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Red Stripe Providence disappointing

Went to Red Stripe for the first time last night. We had an 8:30 pm reservation - our party of 4 was seated promptly, in front of the open windows, which was nice.

Very busy and our server was noticeably harried. We were prepared to order an appetizer and were told that on Friday and Saturday nights, diners are supposed to order both appetizers and entrees at the same time. I was embarrassed in front of my guests - if you need to turn the table, fine, but you don't have to tell us in such a tactless way. We changed our minds about ordering appetizers, we were so turned off by our server.

Two of us ordered the so-called specialty of the house, the moules et frites. He had the Portuguese style with chorizo and I had the mariniere. We were both disappointed by the mussels - small, dried out, and the broth (which at other restaurants, I've been known to sop all up with bread) was too salty in both styles. Our companions had the everything but the kitchen sink salad with chicken (seemed fine - difficult to mess this one up) and the salmon, which was deemed okay, but it looked rather dry and overcooked to me. The accompanying latke looked tasty.

No beer on tap was disappointing - we were looking forward to a nice Belgian beer with our moules frites, but they didn't even have anything in bottles. I had a glass of Spanish white wine (crisp, but a little too young and tart) and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for the table (okay).

All in all, I felt like this is yet another over-hyped restaurant in the D'Oliveira empire.

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  1. I've had similar experiences (except I've been foolish enough to go a total of four times). Ordered the mussels twice and been disappointed twice. Around the same time period I had them at Incontro in Franklin MA and they were excellent (large & not dried out) - so I can't imagine the teeny dried out ones were all that was available at the time.

    I posted about this a while back and I couldn't believe someone replied by basically saying that I was being too picky considering the prices. Huh? If that's my criteria I'll go to McDonalds and REALLY save some $$.

    1. I've been twice. My first time, I thought it was only average. I ordered the salmon and it had no flavor. It was just a blah meal. The second time, I brought my parents because they were dying to try it and I was willing to give it a second chance. I had the pork tenderloin and it was excellent. My parents' meals were both excellent as well. I too found it strange that they had NO beers on tap. With its pub atmosphere, I would have expected a really good beer list. The place reminds me a little of Monks in Philadelphia and they have such an awesome beer list. I wouldn't put Red Stripe on my list of top ten Providence restaurants.

      1. I'm sorry to hear you've all had such poor experiences. Perhaps I'm looking through rose colored glasses since I live in Wayland Square and think Red Stripe is great for the neighborhood, but I've really enjoyed by meals there. I definitely think the appetizers are the strength of the menu (I had an excellent cod-cake last time) although I've had some very good entres as well (the smoked tofu in particular).

        I must say I agree about the service. The majority of the times I've been there my servers have been rushed and often brusque, especially as you get towards closing time. I think this is a problem they really need to address.

        - Garris
        Providence, RI

        1. Garris, how do you like Twist? Although the interior's a bit dark for my taste, I much prefer the food (although I've sorta had it w/the other Pinelli places) to that at Red Stripe.

          1. I like Twist a lot. I think it's very different than Red Stripe though, more whimsical, less serious. I'll certainly grant that the food at Twist is far more consistently high quality than the more hit and miss Red Stripe and that Twist's service is similarly predictable very good, although I vastly prefer Red Stripe's space...

            - Garris

            1. Wait, there is certainly another restaurnant to try... La Laiterie. It has the same owners as Farmstead Cheese. Wonderful beer selections from Vermont draft beers to beautiful imports. The cheeseburger is super yummy!

              1. I agree about the general sentiment that Red Stripe is disappointing. I have given them three tries, and I refuse to go back as each meal was decidedly worse than the previous.

                The mussels are small, gritty and the last time we were there, totally rotten. They smelled up the entire bar area where we were sitting and the fact that the person that cooked them and the person that brought them over could not tell, tells me a lot about not only the quality of food, but of service.

                I did like their deviled eggs and the twist they put on them (filled with a fried chicken liver for instance), but everything else I have tried there has been forgettable.

                Its a shame, because i really want to like this place, but the food and service thwart those attempts.

                Twist is good for eating at the bar. Eating elsewhere hads never gone as smoothly. The food is good, if you keep it simple as I have found is true with all the Pinnelli-Mara restaurants.

                1. i was at Red Stripe just last week again, making it my 4th or 5th time this year. i really enjoy the decor there. the noise level is excessive though, which gets all the more unbearable the further away from the windows you get seated. if i can't make conversation with my fellow diner(s) without yelling, there is a problem... but, having said that, the overall ambiance is upbeat and fun and draws me in whenever i think "so what restaurant shall it be tonight?"

                  the main trouble is that i look forward to going there each time, and each time i get disappointed with the quality of the cooking. the appetizers tend to all taste good (roasted tomato risotto is really special.) but for the main course, i've never been impressed. too often i've crunched on gritty mussels and left the overly salty broth. the fries are wonderful, yes. the grilled hanger steak was fine, but the bordelaise so-so. can't say much about the desserts because the portions are so big that i'm always too full to complete my dinner!

                  the wine choices are good. again, i think the most attractive aspect of this restaurant is the feeling of buzz, the sense of a lively scene, and when you're in the mood for that, it's perfect.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: madgee

                    I so symptathize with the mussel experience. 3 times we have tried them, and all times they have been gritty. The last time they were outright bad. The worst part about it is the attitude of management when told they served bad mussels. The manager had the audacity to tell me that they serve hundreds of pounds a week, and have never had a bad batch. When I told him to smell them, he sure changed his tune fast. Still, they have a poor attitude and the food just is not up to snuff in so many areas. They have a few gems, but not enough to make me go back.

                  2. I went last night as it's right by the Learning Connection - I get out of work at 5pm and had a 7pm class, so it's convenient (last 2 wks I went to La Laiterie and couldn't have been happier).

                    I had a glass of merlot (no complaints), frites w/aioli were yummy, as usual, onion soup was just okay.

                    1. JaneRI - I think that's absolutely the correct route to take at Red Stripe. Stick with simple snacks and a glass (or two) of wine and you will be happy. That is the tact I will take the next time I try Red Stripe if, in fact, I return.

                      1. Chiming in: I agree with the general disappointment with Red Stripe. I liked the food at the Farmstead place, but it was pretty cramped.

                        Rumor has it that The Edge, the coffee shop under the Learning Connection, will be opening for sit-down/BYOB dinners on the weekends beginning in November. It's already got the best coffee in Providence, and the sandwiches are great.

                        It certainly is getting exciting in Wayland Square, isn't it?

                        1. I was there in spring and had the same mussel dish. To me, the mussels seemed overcooked, small and tough--perhaps it was just the type. This dish sounded so good, but was just disappointing. I though I would like the combination with the sausage, but it did not come off well and I thought I would have preferred something simpler instead. Cute place and the menu reads well, you can get casual simple things or a big dinner. Service was amaturish but pleasant.

                          1. I have to say that I'm surprised at all these cold reviews! I have been to the Red Stripe about three times (twice for Sunday Brunch, once for Friday dinner) and I have to say that each experience was very good. The service was great--courteous and attentive without being irritating or annoying. The food was cooked properly and was flavorful and not too salty. I had a different dish each time (salmon BLT, tilapia, eggs benne, respectively), but have never tried the mussels. Also, it has to be noted that I haven't been there on a busy Saturday night which is when it seems like everything lags. I also haven't been there with more than one other person (of even in a larger group), so perhaps they also have trouble with that. It should be said though that I think their food is reasonably priced for the portions--and since my dishes have all been great, I would say it is fair for the quality of food as well.

                            I have heard great things about La Laiterie, but have yet to try it. Looking forward to it though, and definitely looking forward to more good experiences at Red Stripe!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Vivren

                              I have been to Red Stripe 3 times and I also was surprised to hear all the negative feedback. The atmosphere is very loud but I think that is the draw of the place- busy and alive. I hate to sit in a restaurant where there is no energy and no feel. The food has been good for the most part but not great and the service is a little off but for the price and the quality I would definately go back.

                            2. Been to Red Stripe once. That was enough. The fries were good, but the moules were miserable. Gritty and some were off. Won't go again.

                              1. I agree with many of the above. I think it is a good place to have a meal and drinks with friends given the loud atmosphere and the hours. We tend to try and stay away from the more expensive items on the menu, because they dont tend to deliver in any better way than the more reasonably priced options.

                                1. I saw this thread and had to chime in. Don't go to the Red Stripe. I had a horrible experience there. Host, who I later learned was the owner was incredibly rude and snobby. Waitstaff was not helpful. They put us in an incredibly cramped table.

                                  Yes, it is a nice neighborhood restarant and I think the concept is great. But, in the end the service and food do not match up to the price. There are much better places in providence to go.

                                  1. I enjoyed a pleasant lunch yesterday at Red Stripe. The service was good and it wasn't too noisy. I have been there for dinner when it's been impossible to talk and when the service was unacceptable but lunch is better. We both had the grilled cheese sandwich, mine with the pear and proscuitto and my friends without (too bad for her) and we both had the frites, mine with the aioli, hers with catsup (again, too bad for her as the aioli was much more interesting than catsup!)

                                    Today I lunched at Oak Restaurant on Hope Street in Providence. That was a memorably horrible meal. The heat was not working and it was cold inside. People were wearing their coats! Our waitress helpfully told us the heat was on high. I ordered the cheddar bisque, an uninteresting, unflavorable soup. At least it was hot! Then I had the Caesar salad with shrimp. Again, not very interesting or tasty for $14! The Caesar dressing was very mild, no garlic or anchovy bit, the Parmesan cheese non existent, the lettuce was brown in a few places and the small-sized grilled shrimp were unseasoned and undressed. I even had to de-vein my own shrimp. I requested some bread, which is usually the best part of a meal at Oak and was told they have no bread today. As if further explanation was needed my waitress also told me there was no cream either. The room temperature and the quality of the food was enough to put up with but we also had to contend with attitude from the two waitstaff. There are so many other great places in Providence to dine!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: CindyLouWho

                                      Too bad about the heat outage at Oak, that's tough on everyone. About Oak: I find it best for a simple drink at the bar... The one brunch and three dinner experiences we had there just weren't good -- sloppy service, and the food just wasn't fresh or tasty. Could be a nice spot, but...

                                    2. As a Wayland Square resident I was excited to see Red Stripe open, but it has been consistently disappointing. I'm a vegetarian and I am used to having one or two choices on a menu - that's no problem. It's a problem when I order the grilled cheese sandwich sans prosciutto and take a big bite of ham. It's a problem when I mention I'm vegetarian, order the tomato soup and the server doesn't tell me it's made with chicken stock.
                                      I, too, think the atmosphere has crossed the line from lively to painfully loud. I'd rather eat in the basement at Twist and still be able to talk to my dinner companions. Without being elbow-to-elbow with the strangers at the next table. I didn't notice the beer situation, but if true, that is RIDICULOUS for a pub. That being said, I recommend getting the grilled cheese (and checking it twice for meat, if you're so inclined) and frites to go. They ARE delicious. Eat them at home where the service is always pleasant.

                                      1. I went to Red Stripe only once, a few months after they had opened. I had heard negative, from chef-friends and just regular food loving friends alike----service, food quality, everything but atmosphere. I went on a Tuesday night w/some friends, and was pleasantly surprised by a really friendly (in a good way, not in a Fridays/Be My Friend way) waiter who was more than happy to substitute salad for frites (shoot me, I was dieting) w/an open faced sandwich w/beef (steak? tenderloin?). He offered to do this, as he had overheard us wondering if we could get salad instead. The food was excellent, and overall I was pleased.

                                        But---I've heard SO many negative things and there are so many great places in the city, in the neighborhood, that there's no need to roll the dice and keep going there---so I haven't.

                                        I heard that Twist was awful! I'd be willing to try it w/whole family. I used to really like that place when it was the Bookstore Cafe.

                                        If you knew me, you'd be Shocked and Chagrined that I haven't been to La Laiterie yet, for I really, really dig cheese, and have been thinking about the place since it opened. Just haven't gotten there yet.

                                        Garris, I think we're neighbors! sort of.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Moonpie1

                                          First off, I am of the "Twist is horrible" camp. It's pretty chill if you want a glass of wine but I think that's the only thing it's got going for it. Food is just plain silly and bad and completely overpriced. I also live two blocks from Wayland Square so I'm a frequenter of the restaurants there and very much rooting for excellence nearby.
                                          But about Red Stripe. Clearly it is just very inconsistent. I've had wonderful meals there (the grilled cheese is awesome, so is the burger; I've also had good mussels there instead of fetid ones) and have had good service, but have also experienced bad meals and truly horrid service. My favorite was one time when I went for sunday brunch; my friend and I were seated by the host, then we waited twenty minutes while NO ONE came by to even fill water glasses, much less take our order or say hello. We felt like lepers or something, I've never experienced people ignoring me like this in my life, even in the worst days of puberty. During the twenty minutes, we tried in vain to hail down the host who ignored us and tried also to hail down the woman who seemed to be our waitress, who also pointedly ignored us as well. We also noticed that a table of women of color were seated across from us and were getting pretty upset about the fact that they had been waiting for their orders for 45 minutes and had seen other (white & preppy) diners served ahead of them---they made their complaint to the host, who was very rude to them and just brushed them off. They walked out and we followed. It was completely ridiculous. Some of the staff seem to have an issue with wanting to develop a "certain clientele," while some seem to be pretty cool. It's a shame that the staff are jerks, since the food can be good, but I agree with Moonpie1 that when there are so many other great places in PVD it doesn't make much sense to take a chance that you might be treated terribly and subjected to rancid mussels. Anyway I think La Laiterie more than makes up for it in terms of having a good Wayland Square restaurant---i've never had a less than blissful experience there.

                                        2. One more veteran of chez pascal and mills tavern right here. I ate at Red Stripe last may and thought it was pretty good actually. Cant wait to get down to up river cafe and see what goes on down there!!!

                                          1. It's interesting to read through everyone's wildly different experiences at Red Stripe. I've only gone there twice (both times had reservations), and had a consistently good experience. Both times I ordered the moules and frites and both times were excellent. Nice large mussels that were not over-cooked. We also had very good, attentive servers. Brought over extra bread without us even asking, so we could dip into the sauce.

                                            I've gone to La Laiterie three times, because I really want to like the place, but have had poor service each time. I don't plan to go back. The service was very non-existent each time - very similar to what ginqueen experienced at Red Stripe.