The Salem Insider

Insiders guide to food, entertainment & living in Salem Massachusetts for tourists and residents.

The Great Escape

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Categories: restaurant

Great Escape Restaurant
50 Saint Peter street
Salem, MA, 01970

Great Escape Restaurant

After a little less than a year long build-out, the old Salem Jail has been converted to condos and one interesting restaurant. The Great Escape was inspired by the conversion of Boston’s Charles Street jail and their Clink restaurant. Owner Cleber Santos has attempted to to keep some of the architectural details of this historic Salem building and offer Salem a restaurant you might expect find in a much larger city.

Great Escape at night

There is outside seating but even when we went a few weeks back it was a tad chilly outside so we opted to sit inside. The first thing you notice inside is how loud it is. The restaurants interior is brick, stone and concrete so sound is not absorbed, which makes for a bustling dining room to be a noisy dining room.

Great Escape interior

I was expecting a lengthy wait but to my surprise we were seated right away.  About 10 minutes later our waitress arrived to take our drink and appetizer order.  Since we were keeping it old school, we ordered a Manhattan, an extra dry martini with a dash of bitters and the roasted red peppers, asparagus, and Gouda wrapped in prosciutto ($9). Before we knew it our appetizer arrived at the table. Our drinks arrived about 10 minutes later. When they finally showed up we discovered that the bartender had mixed them up (putting bitters in the Manhattan and none in the martini). We finished our appetizer which was delicious and about a 1/2 hour later our waitress reappeared to take our dinner order.  Service Fail!


Our waitress seemed to be a bit more on the ball after the initial debacle.  She took our order: the CIA and KGB -pan seared Atlantic salmon and scallops, with sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach slowly cooked in a seafood flume and served with roasted potatoes ($18) and Portafoglio – grilled marinated veal folded with proscuitto, spinach, roasted peppers and smoked Gouda topped with marsala wine reduction and served with roasted potatoes ($20).


Our food was served hot and fast. The veal was tender and full flavored, given its ingredients this could be overly salty but I found it to be perfect the bold flavors of cheese and peppers blended well with the subtleties of veal and prosciutto. The scallops in the CIA-KGB were tender and flavorful, a great achievement on a busy night that could have reduced them to rubbery superballs.

For dessert we went for the cheesecake, along with an espresso and cappuccino.


Overall Impressions of Great Escape Restaurant

Our table service was spotty at best, however it was very busy with a lot of large parties and our waitress was very apologetic. We found the food to be good and the price to be great. Our bill was around $80, which we found to be a great value for what we got.

Price: $$
Atmosphere: C
Drinks & wine selection: B
Food: B+
Service: C
Overall:  B

2 Responses

  1. Rick says:

    I’d give the atmosphere a better grade than average! I find it unique and cozy, in an odd way. I like the bar in back – great place to hang out and watch a game, with drinks and appetizers at the bar. Atmosphere B/B+, in my book. I suppose the openness can make it noisy but that’s all part of the fun. I’ll definitely go back.

  2. o. barfart says:

    The Great Escape
    Salem, MA 01970
    Date of visit: 21 October 2010

    Ambience/atmosphere: B
    Service: D-
    Menu variety: B-
    Food: C+
    Desert: B-
    Value for dollar spent: C-
    OVERALL dining experience: C
    [Parking availability/convenience: D+]

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