Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Fried chicken, cole slaw, fresh corn, creamy mac and cheese - this isn't the TV dinner I remember.

Fried chicken, cole slaw, fresh corn, creamy mac and cheese – this isn’t the TV dinner I remember.

Remember those mushy, gravy-coated TV dinners made in the microwave that ‘revolutionized’ cooking? Well, the TV Dinner meal at The Shanty in Warwick is actually nothing like that — rather, it’s what you had wished a TV dinner could be.

Geoff opted for the burger and fries - another fine choice.

Geoff opted for the burger and fries – another fine choice.

Delivered to your table on a stainless steel plate, you’ll receive two pieces of crispy fried cornish game hen, creamy mac and cheese topped with sprinkled breadcrumbs, coleslaw, fresh buttered corn, and a biscuit with whipped cream and stewed raspberries.

The Shanty
3854 Post Road
Warwick, RI 02886
(401) 884-7008
www.theshantyri.com

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I definitely have mourned the loss of Farmstead, which had been my favorite Providence restaurant until chef Matt Jennings moved back to Boston (the horror).

That’s really my only excuse for taking so long to make it to The Salted Slate, which took its place in Wayland Square.

However, I was pleasantly surprised on our visit for brunch. The dishes we tried ranged from the savory, like the wedge salad with iceberg lettuce, pear tomatoes, bacon, and bleu cheese dressing, to the sweet such as the bag of warm doughnuts (what’s not to love there) and a French Toast made from brioche topped with sweet strawberries and orange chantilly cream.

I still miss Farmstead, but I’m glad to discover its worthy replacement, which will easily top my list of East Side brunch spots.

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My surfboard on the sand

My surfboard on the sand

Ah, summer. Finally, we’re together again.

Although I do enjoy ice skating and skiing, for me, they just don’t compare to lying on a warm beach, swimming, and surfing. And in Rhode Island, we’re lucky to find everything we need to enjoy summer right here in the Ocean State.

This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather a list of ten of my favorite ways to spend a day during the summer in Rhode Island. I’d love to hear yours too, so post in the comments below!

1.  Surf, Beach, and Mini-Amusement Park in Narragansett

Photo by Dee and Tula Monstah.

Narragansett Town Beach. Photo: Dee and Tula Monstah.

For more low-key (read: novice) surfers like myself, Narragansett Town Beach generally offers small (one to three foot) waves, and the water tends to be freer of seaweed than some other local surf beaches. You can set up a surf lesson in Narragansett or rent a board with Warm Winds Surf Shop or Narragansett Surf & Skate, or just head out with your own board. The beach is separated by a surf side and a swim side, so if you’re only up for swimming, you can head to the other side of the beach. Note that Narragansett Town Beach has a fee both for parking and for entrance on the beach.

Prepare to get wet on the bumper boats...

The bumper boats at Adventureland.

For lunch, I love Crazy Burger, which has a great selection of burgers, salads and sandwiches for vegetarians and omnivores alike.

If that’s not enough action for the day, then we’ll stop at Adventureland, a miniature amusement park with a carousel, bumper boats and a kids’ raceway.

We usually like to pick up some local seafood at Champlin’s to cook at home later (likely stopping for some ice cream at the Sweet Spot while we’re there), and picking up some local corn at Sunsets Farm on the way home.

2. Bike Ride and Lunch Along the Bay

Stopping along the East Bay  Bike Path.

Stopping along the East Bay Bike Path.

If it’s not too hot, one of my favorite things to do is take a bike ride along the East Bay Bike Path, which follows the coastline of the bay between East Providence down to Bristol, Rhode Island. The ride isn’t terribly hilly, and it’s so peaceful to ride along the water.

I like to stop along the way at the Audubon Society in Bristol to explore their outdoor grounds or indoor museum.

A cup of coffee chip at Gray's Ice Cream.

A cup of coffee chip at Gray’s Ice Cream.

Although the food is underwhelming, it’s hard to beat the view at Agave in Bristol. Save room for ice cream at Gray’s Ice Cream, which is one of my favorites.

3. Rocky Coast Hike and View of the Bay in Jamestown

The view from Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown.

The view from Fort Wetherill State Park.

When I’m up for a more adventurous activity, I love to hike up Fort Wetherill in Jamestown. It’s a fairly easy walk, even with children, and the views of Narragansett Bay are fantastic. If you think ahead, you can pack a picnic lunch. Or, you can make your way into the town of Jamestown to pick a spot along the water.

There’s also the Jamestown Community Playground for kids that need to let off steam before or after their meal.

4. Beach, Boats, Kites and Seafood in Newport and Middletown

Second Beach in Middletown, RI.

Second Beach in Middletown, RI.

I usually skip Newport’s Easton’s Beach (“First Beach”) in Newport, and head to Sachuest Beach (“Second Beach”) in Middletown, Rhode Island. The water tends to be freer of seaweed, although the seagulls remain as aggressive as ever here, which is why I don’t recommend lunch on the beach. Plus, who needs lunch when you can go straight from the beach to Frosty Freez for delicious soft-serve.

Kite flying in Brenton State Park along the water in Newport.

Kite flying in Brenton State Park along the water in Newport.

We always like to try to make time to take a drive along the coast on Ocean Drive, stopping at Brenton Point State Park, which typically makes for a great kite-flying spot.

We’ve also spent many pleasant hours over the years in the rental boats available at Sail Newport in Fort Adams State Park.

For dinner, I usually head to Flo’s Clam Shack for my favorite lobster roll and clamcakes. Or if I’m in the mood for a more relaxing sit-down dinner, then I head to  Scales & Shells for local seafood or Mamma Luisa for homemade Italian, both favorites that have stood the test of time.

5. Pool, Cake and a Drive-in Movie

Pool-time.

Pool-time.

Although I do love the ocean, swimming in a pool can often be much easier–no waves and sea creatures to contend with.

If you don’t have access to a pool, see if you can find a friend and get invited by someone with a membership to one (guest fees tend to be about $5-10 per person at local clubs).

Wrights Dairy Farm

Wrights Dairy Farm

After swimming (I like to do laps), I like a treat (shocking, I know). Depending on where I am, I might drive to Eskimo King.

Another one of my favorites is an excursion to Wrights Dairy Farm for some coffee milk and strawberry shortcake.

And what better way to finish a summer evening than with an outdoor movie at the Rustic Tri-View Drive-In?

6. Fishing, Baseball and Fireworks

I love to sit on the grassy field by the outfield at McCoy Stadium.

I love to sit on the grassy field by the outfield at McCoy Stadium.

What could be more American? Start with fishing and a ride on the carousel at Slater Memorial Park.

Then head to a Paw Sox game at McCoy Stadium, where you can grab some beers and a Super Pretzel, some shelled peanuts, or hot dog, and spread out on the lawn to watch the game. If you pick a night with fireworks after, then you can end the night with a close-up show.

7. Beach, Cocktails and Oysters

One of my favorite state beaches is East Matunuck Beach–it’s a bit rockier than some, but it’s has a great atmosphere for children. Plus, you can eat at the waterfront Matunuck Oyster Bar before or after. Am I the only one who finds the beach makes them hungry?

If I’m looking for a more lively beach day, I might head down to Misquamicut Beach in Westerly, RI and have cocktails and lunch at The Andrea’s newly restored bar, right on the beach.

8. An All-Providence Summer Day

Breakfast sandwich from Pat's Pastured.

Breakfast sandwich from Pat’s Pastured.

On Saturday mornings, you’ll typically find us at the Hope Street Farmers’ Market in Lippitt Park, Providence. There are dozens of farm vendors from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and throughout the summer, the produce increases in variety. You’ll also find the Pat’s Pastured Pork stand for breakfast sandwiches, or Tallulah Tacos for lunch. There’s even a series of local craft vendors if you want to do additional shopping.

DePasquale Square on Atwells Ave.

DePasquale Square on Atwells Ave.

On other days of the week, I might head to Venda Ravioli, where you can eat outside in DePasquale Square on Atwells Avenue.

You might not think of the zoo as too appealing on a hot summer day, but the Roger Williams Park Zoo now has Hasbro’s Big Backyard with sprinklers and water play for the kids (and I suppose, over-heated adults). Don’t forget to squeeze in a few minutes to see some elephants, giraffes and gorillas while you’re there.

Sparks fly on a windy night.

Sparks fly on a windy night.

Then, it’s hard to deny the tourist appeal of Providence’s Waterfire. It was the first event that brought us into Providence before we moved here, and its success has led to its adoption in other small cities. It’s one of the only times you’ll see actual traffic in downtown Providence, as a novelty, I appreciate it, especially since I don’t have to drive.

In my ideal day, I’d begin with watching them light the fires, then enjoy a meal at Figidini or Gracie’s, and finish off with a concert at Lupo’s.

9. Berry Picking and Wine Tasting on Aquidneck Island

Newport Vineyards tables overlooking the grapevines.

Newport Vineyards tables overlooking the grapevines.

When I get sick of the beach (it takes a lot of beach days in a row for this to happen), I love going to Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown for berry picking. They also have a small gourmet grocery shop with other tasty treats.

Then, I’d enjoy a relaxing snack and glass of wine at Newport Vineyards at their outdoor seating overlooking their rows of grapevines.

10. Biking and Surfing on Block Island

Ok, this one is actually on my ‘to do’ list.

It’s a bit absurd to admit, but even after living in Providence several years, I have failed to make the short ferry ride to Block Island. But I’m determined that this will be the year.

List of Places Mentioned (without links):

Narragansett Town Beach
39 Boston Neck Rd.
Narragansett, RI
www.narragansettri.gov

Crazy Burger
144 Boon St.
Narragansett, RI
www.crazyburger.com

Sunsets Farm
www.farmfresh.org

Audubon Society of RI
1401 Hope St
Bristol, RI
www.asri.org

Agave
805 Hope Street
Bristol, RI
www.agavebristol.com

Jamestown Community Playground
41 Conanicus Ave.
Jamestown, RI

Sachuest Beach
474 Sachuest Point Rd.
Middletown, RI
www.visitrhodeisland.com

Brenton Point State Park
Ocean Drive
Newport, RI
www.riparks.com

Sail Newport
60 Fort Adams Dr.
Newport, RI
www.sailnewport.org

Scales & Shells
527 Thames St.
Newport, RI
www.scalesandshells.com

Mamma Luisa
673 Thames St.
Newport, RI
www.mammaluisa.com

The Andrea
89 Atlantic Ave.
Westerly, RI
www.andreabeachbar.com

Hope Street Farmers’ Market
Lippitt Park
1059 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.farmfresh.org

Venda Ravioli
265 Atwells Ave.
Providence, RI
www.vendaravioli.com

Gracie’s
194 Washington St.
Providence, RI
www.graciesprov.com

Lupo’s
79 Washington St.
Providence, RI
www.lupos.com

Newport Vineyards
909 E Main Rd.
Middletown, RI
www.newportvineyards.com

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The Wintertime Farmers’ Market remains one of my favorite things about Providence (even though it’s actually in Pawtucket). And it keeps getting better. Last year, the market expanded into another hall of Hope Artiste Village to allow for the growing demand for both more vendors and shoppers, which made it a much more pleasant (and less crowded) shopping experience.

And now, you can take a break from the market with ‘Brunch and Bowl’ at Breaktime Bowl & Bar right upstairs in the Hope Artiste Village. The half dozen lanes feature duckpin bowling, but it’s even more offbeat than that. Here, there is no automatic pin-resetting; there’s actually a person who sets up your pins after each turn.

Plus, the drink menu features some great beers on tap, and the food menu is notches above any bowling alley that I’ve been to: my favorite was the spinach and artichoke dip with parmesan crusted toasts.

And if you miss brunch, they’re open for lunch and dinner with bowling too.

Breaktime Bowl & Bar
999 Main Street
Hope Artiste Village
3rd Floor
Pawtucket, RI
www.breaktimebowlandbar.com or find them on Facebook

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Hot wieners

The star of the show.

Guest post by Allan Miller

“Sometimes a hot dog is just a hot dog.” Fateful, if slightly existential, and somewhat paraphrased, words from Sigmund Freud. But apparently Freud never had the occasion to visit Olneyville New York System in Providence, because sometimes a hot dog is not just a hot dog, but is instead an Olneyville New York System hot wiener.

Ambiance

Don’t go for the atmosphere.

You won’t want to visit for the faintly greasy-spoon ambiance. You won’t want to visit for the diner-like menu. No, you’ll be going for the same thing that lured me there three times in one week during my short stay in Providence: these are quite frankly the best hot dogs that I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. And I’ve had a lot of hot dogs.

But don’t call them hot dogs. Follow the lead of the friendly and boisterous staff and call them by their true name: hot wieners. Freud would be proud that his name and the name of these heavenly delights share the same Germanic roots.

Here’s your quick tour guide to Olneyville. Get there about 12:30 AM, when life is just starting for the place. Order two hot wieners “all the way” (with meat sauce, grilled onions, mustard, and celery salt), a coffee milk, and a plate of fries. The coffee milk is just a giant glass of milk (take your Lactaid on the way there) with a tinge of coffee flavoring, and serves as an unexpected and delightful complement to the main course. The fries are nothing to write blogs about, but are pretty good and serve as a nice side dish.

Olneyville New York System is something you don’t want to miss if you are in Providence. It’s definitely worth breaking your low-carb diet, as it did mine. See you there in the wee hours.

Olneyville New York System
18 Plainfield Street
Providence, RI
http://olneyvillenewyorksystem.com/

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Note: Sadly, the Pepperoni Grill closed.

Thin crust, the right ratio of tomato to cheese -- it looks like a New York pizza.

Thin crust, the right ratio of tomato to cheese — it looks like a New York pizza.

When a friend who grew up in Long Island posted on Facebook that she discovered the “same pizza [she] ate as a little girl,” I knew where we’d be eating out next.

Of course, nothing can ever beat Mario’s Restaurant for me, but there are plenty of New York pizzas that I still love when I’m back in New York City — Lombardi’s, Patsy’s, and Joe’s, to name a few. But since we moved to Providence, I have searched to no avail for an authentic New York pizza. Well, finally, it has arrived.

Last night, at The Pepperoni Grill, we ordered two large pizzas — a pepperoni and a plain. I was impressed with its thin crust, its fresh tomato taste and ‘right’ amount of cheese — this is the New York pizza I remember. The restaurant itself is nothing fancy — but that’s exactly the appropriate ambiance for an authentic NY pizza, in my opinion.

The restaurant has opened so recently that they don’t yet have menus or a credit card processing machine, and they’re not even listed yet on Yelp. They expect to be have their full menu (with salads and pasta dishes) at the end of July. We met the owner, who is a New York transplant who has decided to make a go of it in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He ships his tomatoes from Brooklyn–he says he can’t find anything comparable locally. And he said he plans on having several salads with fresh mozzarella. And as if it couldn’t get any better–they deliver within a three-mile radius, which just barely makes it to our house in Providence.

They also sell them by the slice.

They also sell them by the slice.

The Pepperoni Grill
287 Pawtucket Avenue
Pawtucket, RI
http://thepepperonigrillri.com/

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Ken’s Ramen

Ken's Ramen will cheer you up.

Who says you can’t eat a steaming hot bowl of ramen in the summer?

Many of us think of ramen as something you buy in convenience stores and eat in large quantities as a college student. But you’ve got to figure that something that can be tasty under those circumstances has to be quite stellar when there’s actually some skill and fresh ingredients put into it.

It took us awhile to get to the recently opened and much anticipated Ken’s Ramen in Downcity. There was a long line, or we couldn’t find parking. One time, our three-year-old refused to stay because she thought the music was too loud. So finally, on a weeknight date night, Geoff and I made it over to Ken’s Ramen. I opted for the what they call “the soupless ramen” or Tan-Tan Mazmen, a spicy sesame purée mixed into their special ramen topped with bamboo shoots, kikurage mushrooms, nori and scallions. Geoff opted for the more traditional Paitan Ramen, a chicken broth simmered for over 30 hours, also featuring ramen, bamboo shoots, kikurage mushrooms, nori and scallions. Don’t forget to order some of their homemade pork buns (Cha-Siu Pork Belly).

And don’t let anyone convince you that ramen is not a summer food. In Singapore, everyone eats it all year long, so I don’t see why we can’t too…

Ken’s Ramen
69 Washington Street
Providence, RI
www.kenramenpvd.com

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