Essex Grill – Essex Jct., VT
The Essex Grill surprised me from the second I walked onto their new spacious deck seating area. The inside seemed less like the grubby diner I had encountered 3 or 4 years ago. It had a small, well lit bar with a flat screen TV in one corner and a descent dining space. The restaurant was COMPLETELY empty. The most disconcerting thing about the restaurant was the dog pictures. All over the walls. Photos of dogs of all shapes and sizes with there names covered the walls. The oddest artwork choice I have ever seen in a restaurant. A friendly waitress took our order – I had the pulled pork sandwich ($8.00) and my Dad had the clam basket ($10.00), both came with waffle fries (which are usually better than normal fries in my opinion). My sandwich also came topped with onion rings. I had a mixed response to my sandwich. The bread was extremely fresh and in the first few bites the onion rings really added a nice crunch. Something that was disconcerting was that the BBQ sauce had just been spread across the bread and the meat had not simmered in it or even touched it. Like most pulled pork sandwiches, it became to much of a trial to finish finish, the onion rings became a flavorless, soft mess. My Dad’s clams were obviously freezer brand, there may have been the slightest hint of clam in them but it must have been my imagination, they were pretty terrible. The waffle fries were the shining light of the meal, great seasoning and not oily and just great, whether they were freezer brand or not. It took us ages to pay as we weren’t sure if we were supposed to go up to the counter or wait for the waitress, the waitress never came and there was an awkward exchange of cash in an area between the bar and restaurant area. There was a wide selection of entree’s and house favorites ($9.50-$15.00) There was also an interesting selection of cocktails.
Final Rating – 2.5. A really nice eating space combined with mediocre food is the reason behind the 2.5. It isn’t as good as a 3 but not as bad as a 2. The seafood options are probably something to avoid but the grilled ham and cheese with dijon mustard ($7.50) is an attractive option. Go there if you want but there are better diner and American restaurants in Vermont, which hopefully I will be able to review later.