Located in downtown Melrose, Stearns & Hill Bistro serves up a range of comfort foods at reasonable prices.
The décor looks a little formal, but the atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious. The décor is simple: wood paneled walls, white table clothes, comfortable seating and an unusual pressed tin ceiling.
The bar has ample seating and standing room. There is a nice little partition between the bar and the dining rooms. It’s not completely closed off, but does keep husband from watching sports during dinner.
Stearns & Hill does not have a gluten-free menu. However, on each visit, the waitstaff have been really accommodating and very nice about going back to the kitchen to double-check my order, if needed. Some waiters know the menu / allergies better than others and were able to answer ingredient questions off the top of their head.
The waitstaff generally directed me to the wide range of steak and seafood options (those apparently require little modification for a gluten allergy).
About half the menu is steaks and seafood: so there are a lot of options. Also, I have been told the kitchen is able to prepare burgers protein style (i.e. – using lettuce instead of a bun).
All of the fish dishes offer a few methods of preparation, including grilled, pan-seared or blackened, none of which involve gluten. Hooray for flavor and choices! The fried options are sadly, not suitable for gluten-free diners.
Fries themselves are gluten-free; however they are fried in the same fryer as gluten products, so avoid the fries if you are really sensitive. Luckily there are several sides available and substitution is simple. Their mashed potatoes are really tasty.
I have tried three or four fish entrees, soups, and salads. Each meal was good, though I do wish they would be more adventurous with sauces and seasonings. The food is fresh and obviously of a good quality. It’s just not an exciting food. I always enjoy the dining here, but never think, wow, next time my friend is in town I HAVE to take them here.
G/F friendly: 4 out of 5
Food Taste and Quality: 3.5 out of 5