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“Great service. Mediocre Food”
Review of Maven

Maven
Ranked #209 of 543 Restaurants in Salem
Cuisines: American
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed November 13, 2013

We were looking for a new place to purchase a gift certificate for our friends anniversary. After reading reviews we decided to have dinner and check it out. We were seated and asked for a wine list. Our server said the wine was listed on the blackboard by the front door but they were out of most of them. This was 5:30PM. When we asked what reds they had, he responded with two pinot noirs and two cabernets. We asked what wineries they were from and he didn't know. We then asked him to bring two bottles to the table so we could see the vintages. We each tried a different one and both were quite good. My husband ordered the pork shoulder and I ordered the salmon with beet risotto..The pork shoulder dish was like a stew combined with pasta and marinara sauce and extremely salty. The salmon consisted of a dish of mushed up rice (not risotto) with a small piece of salmon on top. The salmon was nicely cooked but the skin on the bottom had not been removed and when I removed it there was no place to put it except on top of the rice. The fish was approximately 5 oz and way to small for the price. We asked for bread and our server said he could order it for us. We have dined in many restaurants and always found bread to be included with dinner.We asked for our bill and looking at our half eaten plates the server asked if we wanted take home boxes. We declined and left to go somewhere else to purchase our gift card. The atmosphere of this place is wonderful but the quality of food does not do it justice. We will not be back.

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1  Thank Shirl R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (47)
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36 - 40 of 47 reviews

Reviewed November 6, 2013

But I just could not get there. I read all the rave reviews, and perhaps that set us up to expect too much. First of all what we liked:

The atmosphere is quaint and charming. I have always loved this space and this is the best conceptual use of it I have experienced. The wood walls, the molding, the tin ceiling, the quartz long bar, the small intimate tables. All of this is inviting. We were there on a Wednesday evening and the place was packed. Laughter and good conversation were infectious. The prices are reasonable and the portions moderate, but offer a satisfying evening without feeling too full. The wait staff is friendly and attentive. The wine list, though small, offered decent wines at decent prices.

Now, what brought the rating down:

The lighting was so low that we had to bring out a small flashlight to see the menu. Others near us said they had to do the same. I like the overall mood of low light in a restaurant, but there has to be good lighting on the table. Visual presentation is a major part of a fine dining experience and the lighting was so low that we could hardly see the colors of the food, and could not see the detail of what looked like it was probably a nice presentation. You can have low overall lighting and still place lighting in a way that shows off the plate. This is a huge oversight in my view.

The food, sad to say, was just average. Though the menu has unique items and this is not just a pasta mill, those items were trying just a little bit too hard to be gourmet experiences. We started with the beet/orange salad. We could not even see if it was red beets, With the lighting everything was an even shade of dark gray. The idea of the mix of ingredients sounded good: beets, navel oranges, nuts, fennel, fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, and more. However, the other flavors ended up overshadowing the beets. The beets were cut small and made up less than half the ingredients. The other flavors were just too powerful and not well blended. There were way too many nuts and too much balsamic goes a long way. Nothing was subtle about this salad and if felt like it slapped my taste buds around.

Carol had the shellfish dish in a broth with crusty bread. We expected a mix of shellfish but this was really a bowl of steamed mussels and clams. No shrimp, no crab, no other shellfish. The texture and flavor of the mussels and clams was very good. They were covered with a mix of vegetables including radishes, red pepper and tomatoes. The bread was very crusty and tasty. However, there was very little broth to sop up. This dish needed at least a shrimp or two and more broth.

I had the wild mushroom risotto with pancetta. This was a real disappointment. I love risotto and have had the best at street fairs in Italy, so I can be a little jaded. However, this was not risotto at all. The rice was not the right kind. It seemed like ordinary short grained rice that was overcooked in too much water. There was no sense of the richness of texture and flavor of a properly cooked, stirred and creamy risotto. There was very little flavor to the rice itself. The pancetta stood out and was of good quality, but there were only a few small pieces that seemed more like a garnish than a main ingredient in the dish. The wild mushrooms looked and tasted more like ordinary crimini mushrooms, with none of the wild woodsy or funky notes that endear me to wild mushrooms. A few peas and a little green herb (I think it was green, since it just looked like dark gray flecks in a gray rice dish in the low light) with little flavor also were added to the dish. The flavors were not well integrated, making the flavorless rice stand out even more in its blandness.

We shared a pot au creme for dessert. The caramelized flavor throughout the cream was very pronounced and flavorful. The dish was a little sweet for my taste, but very good. It was served with a small bowl of red salt to be sprinkled a few grains at a time on each spoonful. I liked the contrast in flavors. The shortbread cookie served with it was nothing special and added nothing the the experience of the dessert.

I really want to like this place and I like the sounds of the items chosen for the eclectic menu. We will probably give it another try. I will let you know if it improves the second time.

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1  Thank pkrissel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2013

VERY knowledgeable and skilled server; food and wine pairings were unique; it was a pleasure to pause and really taste the various combination of fresh ingredients, flavours and textures. Everyone in the restaurant seemed thrilled with their meals; you could hear them quietly "oohing and awing" about what they were eating, us included. Large portions - luckily we had a fridge in our hotel room and enjoyed our left overs (mushroom risotto, broken lasagna) for lunch the next day. A funky antique style decor and wonderful classic 60's jazz music playing at just the right volume in the background. The chef and staff show real pride in their product and service; we really felt that they cared that we enjoyed a memorable dining experience. We wish we had this caliber of restaurant in our home City.

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2  Thank podseat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 28, 2013 via mobile

A pleasant surprise to find such a wonderful restaurant in downtown Salem! We had a delightful meal with great service. We will definitely go back.

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Thank Trisshy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 19, 2013

My husband and I stopped here on our way to Seattle from Phoenix. The food was the equal or better than fine restaurants we have eaten at in these big cities at a fraction of the price. The appetizer of Olives and Almonds was unique and delicious. Our main courses were equally great. My husband had the broken lasagna and I had the chicken milanese. When we complimented the food to the waitress, the owner came over and gave us a big hug and talked about her restaurant. It was clear that she cared very much about it and her customers. This restaurant deserves to make it and we hope both residents and visitors give it a try.

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1  Thank Ronald S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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