Prisoners often dream of home-cooked meals, such as a fine steak or a burrito made of nail files. Freely feast on upscale cuisine with today’s Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of New American fare at Great Escape Restaurant in Salem.
Featured on Phantom Gourmet for its surprising combination of elegant cuisine and penitentiary-inspired surroundings, Great Escape Restaurant’s menu blends hearty Italian fare with American favorites. Starters such as the fried calamari ($11) acclimate imprisoned taste buds to their newly flavorful existence, and main courses include the Alcatraz, breaded chicken breast with shrimp and asparagus ($19), and homemade lobster ravioli ($20). The Mafia steak ($29), named for the group believed to be behind local corruption and jarringly loud commercial breaks, lays a 16-ounce sirloin in a cranberry-port-wine sauce.
Beginning in 1813, Great Escape’s halls once housed prisoners of all variety and facial-hair-style, and its sleek, intimate interior retains many of the original structure’s austere amenities, including brick walls, a 2-foot-thick granite floor, and cell bars throughout the dining room. The bar is culled from recycled cell doors, and bathrooms can only be accessed by painstakingly burrowing clandestine tunnels in the walls with a pilfered spoon. Complimentary valet service seamlessly escorts guests to the dinner table.
Great Escape Restaurant
The Salem jail, built in 1813, was the home of countless criminals for more than a century; today, it's the home of The Great Escape Restaurant. "Gone are the days of just bread and water…now the meals here are big portions of pasta, seafood, and steak," according to a video by Phantom Gourmet. While previously alcohol was only available when it was smuggled in, today the Great Escape's bartenders mix up prison-themed cocktails like the Orange Jumpsuit and The Commuted Sentence. In addition, complimentary valet service seamlessly escorts guests to the dinner table.
Under high ceilings, black chandeliers illuminate a bar made from recycled cell doors, the jail's original thick granite floor, and cell bars that surround black leather booths. Exposed brick walls are decorated with pop art with cheeky sayings such as "If you can't do the time don't do the crime," though today's guests are more focused on fried calamari than rehabilitation.