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Aug 2, 2007 12:20 PM

Cranston, RI one night only recs?

I will be passing through for one night only in Cranston, and would love to find a place to get a nearly perfect lobster roll. Steamers, a plus and outdoor dining would be great. And, if you have any thoughts on a good bakery, that would get the next morning off to a great start.

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  1. Twin is a Rhode Island institution...not fine dining, but great food and service...extensive menu...and that ain't all...plenty of place like it...

    3 Replies
    1. re: nidanlou

      I grew up going to Twin Oaks, when it used to be good. I then only would go once every couple of years on a special occasion. Not anymore. The only reason why people continue to rate this restaurant highly is because this place is a dinosaur. It brings back memories of the old days. They haven't updated it in ages. I am sure all of the good reviews are made by people over the age of 65. Unfortunately, along with a persons hearing, the tastebuds go as well. When you're on a fixed budget, Twin Oaks low prices seem a plus. Yes, the parking lot is always crowded, but as you pull in you'll notice the elderly people being escorted in by a relative. Yes, the prices are low for a big portion of lousy food. Legally, they are allowed to only hire men for the waitstaff (not women) due to a grandfather clause. Hey, it seems classy if you're sexist. They don't write your order down, but commit it to memory. The service is not great anymore as the waiters don't have a good attitude and don't seem to take their job seriously like at a fine restaurant. The wait is ridiculously long, unless you slip a few bucks to the maitredee. I can only assume that people get tanked in the "great bar" and then actually don't mind the poor service, cold bland food, iceberg lettuce, canned vegetables, and bad quality meat.

      1. re: Monono

        whats wrong with iceberg? It actually is rich in Vitamin K while others are not...its the best for a nice wedge salad too.

        Anyways I am 29 and love Twin Oaks. Never had cold or canned food. Or poor service for that matter. So your sweeping generalizations are just that.

        1. re: Monono

          Twin Oaks seems to have been updated every few years since they rebuilt after the fire in the 80's. I don't know which years these things were added, but there is a new room on the left side past the large bar, a fairly new back porch bar/lounge area, and new outdoor seating. I haven't seen the outdoor section, but a sign was up when the weather was better. I didn't go to Twin Oaks for a while because I didn't want to wait the expected two hours, but I think the wait averages under 20 or 30 minutes these days.

          I am not over 65, and I have posted a couple of good reviews. I do, however, find your comments ageist and especially offensive since you complain about perceived sexism. The reality is that ownership and management are 50% female, so those waiters are in fact working for a woman.

          I don't care if they commit my order to memory. A couple of times they brought me the wrong side order, but replaced it, no problem. And I don't mind iceberg in my side salad.

      2. Ditto to Twin Oaks, unless youare going to be driving to the coast. It's hard to be in Cranston without trying this classic.

        20 Replies
        1. re: janeer

          Twin Oaks is a dinosaur with truly awful food and is not the least bit Chowish.

          I'd go to Caffe Itri for their huge, cheap winelist and homemade roasted red peppers. Also, I've had stellar service every time I've eaten there.

          1. re: invinotheresverde

            I'd go to Twin Oaks if I was in Cranston for a month -- it's just one of those oddball Rhode Island things to do. But there's so much better food to be had in this area

            For one meal in Cranston, I'd certainly try Caffe Itri, named for the small town where the ancestors of many if not most of the local area's denizens hail from. Knightsville is one of the most authentically homogenous Italian neighborhoods in the US.

            And I'm sure there are plenty of great bakeries right there too.

            1. re: Bob W

              I'm a RI-native recently back to the area and this definitely sounds like a place worth visiting. What's the price range? A couple of must-order menu items? Where is that neighborhood located?

              1. re: foxy fairy

                you'll surely get there before me! it's on my list for my next visit to RI. here's a link to their web site:

            2. re: invinotheresverde

              Sorry, I have to disagree about Twin Oaks being a “dinosaur”. Dinosaurs did not survive. Twin Oaks has survived, and continues to do well, if the long wait at dinnertime is any indication. Sometimes I have not much choice about going to Twin Oaks when out-of-town relatives insist on going at least once when in RI. But I still enjoy going, even when it’s not my first choice. It continues to be one of my favorites for lunch. It’s hard to beat their baked stuffed shrimp, lobster roll, or roast tenderloin. Truly awful food? No way! Chowish? A matter of opinion. Don’t know if that’s where I’d spend my only night in RI, but I sure could do worse.

              1. re: Betty Boop

                I totally agree with you on this Betty. I am a Providence transplant and waited two years before going to Twin Oaks because what I heard of it being a "dinosaur". You know what? Its a fantastic place. They have not changed their menu in years but when you have such basics, thats fine.

                Twin Oaks is old school, and they have a lot on their menu you cant find anywhere else but on old school menus. Fried Smelts? Herring? And cuts of meat that are hardly served in that style anymore. The atmosphere alone is a worth it plus a bar that serves a real honest to goodness drink. No pretense, no bullshit.

                It is a Rhode Island institution, and you could do a lot worse than going there if stuck in Cranston for one night,.

                1. re: Betty Boop

                  Twin Oaks has survived because everyone's grandparents go there nightly and because it has an old-school rep.

                  Twin Oaks is one of the restaurants in RI I'd go to last. The food is as plain and boring as you can get, and, as stated above, it is DEFINITELY not Chowish.

                  As the posters above and below me so eloquently stated, "You could do worse...". Yes, you could do worse. It is literally not the worst restaurant in the state. However, you're looking for a great place in Cranston, which isn't exactly hip on the resto scene.

                  I stand by Caffe Itri, which neither has the outdoor dining you seek, nor the seafood. I doubt anywhere in Cranston meets those qualifications.

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    The last time I was there there were plenty of younger people, at least half were late 20's/early 30's.

                    And why is it not chowish? It serves real food that you have a hard time getting at other places. It is simple food, that is for sure. But that doe snot make it not chowish.

                    1. re: basachs

                      Last time I went was 2-3 yrs ago, I wasn't enthusiastic, was there because a friend wanted to go. We sat at the bar and I ordered a grilled fish dinner. I STILL remember how good that fish was. (Twin Oaks).

                      I'll add West End Cafe to the list.....I went over the winter and had a truly suburb enormous hunk of falling off the bone meat....I think they said lamb shank? But it was just one giant hunk...aren't lamb shanks small and served in multiples? Anyway, it was wonderful.

                    2. re: invinotheresverde

                      Chowish? Is there a dictionary definition, or are you the word police? Cranston (definitely not hip on the "resto" scene, another ridiculous word) for one night: Twin Oaks for the experience, and where they can get the lobster roll and probably steamers The questioner did not say he/she was looking for the hippest or best food, or what YOU think they should have.

                      1. re: janeer

                        Personal attacks because I think Twin Oaks is awful? You're quite mature.

                        The diner in question is looking to spend his one night in Cranston having the best dining experience offered, which Twin Oaks certainly isn't. Twin Oaks is the kind of place your whole family goes to together for birthdays/anniversaries so the older generation has an easy time finding something they enjoy. I equate it to The Cheesecake Factory: huge portions of garbage food. They do make a good drink though.

                        The poster will have a tough time finding what he's looking for exactly, because Cranston's not exactly a seafood mecca compared to most of the rest of RI. If the outdoor dining is that important, I'd hit Efendi's, though there's not exactly a view.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          I think "garbage" food is over the I said in an earlier post, I went there grudgingly a couple of years ago and had an excellent fish dinner....simple but perfect. And I went in feeling negative.

                      2. re: invinotheresverde

                        There's actually quite a bit of outdoor dining in Cranston .....Cafe Luna & Papa Razzi at Garden City (granted, you're looking at a parking lot). Efendi's right across the street has a very nice outdoor patio and I'm sure has some seafood on the menu. Give me a few minutes and I'm sure I'll come up w/more.

                        1. re: JaneRI

                          Bilkens on Niantic Ave on the Cranston/Providence line has outdoor seating. And is certainly "chowish" for the sheer fact that they are a hidden place in an industrial park. The chef travels from the Cape every day and brings with him all sorts of treasures from the sea.....

                          1. re: basachs

                            I tried to find it once & got lost! I'll have to give it another shot.

                            1. re: JaneRI

                              it is a bit out of the way. It basically right near Twin Oaks...

                              1. re: basachs

                                Near Twin Oaks? Not that close, is it? I was coming from Olneyville Square and I think I got off Rt 10 one exit too soon (Union?)

                                1. re: JaneRI

                                  less than a 1/2 mile away. You did get off one exit too soon, but you could have gotten there from Union, just a bit trickier.

                                  Take the next exit (unmarked, just says "Exit") and make a right at the light, go all the way down, make a right at light onto Cranston St, go under Rte 10 and make a quick right onto Niantic. Go through one light and Bilkens is on the right side, across the street from the RI Food Bank.

                                  1. re: basachs

                                    Thanks! I just copied that down.

                            2. re: basachs

                              Here's an old chow thread on Bilkens--- sounds fantastic! I've never been and I'd definitely like to check it out... hmm, maybe a chow gathering?


                              Bilkens Cafe and Grill
                              195 Niantic Avenue,
                              Providence, RI 02907

                  2. I've never been to Twin Oaks, so I can't comment on that. But given the request for a lobster roll and steamers, Caffe Itri is not going to deliver in that department. It's an entirely different type of cuisine.

                    In considering at least one alternative, you may want to look into Iggy's in Warwick (depends on your transportation options). I know some people like to rip on them, but the menu is what you're looking for and it's not too far from Cranston (unless you're a native Rhode Islander, in which case it would be considered a day trip!).

                    1. My sister insisted on taking us to Twin Oaks when we visited her. It definitely is a Rhode Island place so DO NOT drink the tap water. (What is with Rhodey and bad tap water???) But I digress.

                      Do go here. Where else are you gonna get Quahog Pie and Grape Nut Pudding?

                      1. L'Osteria on Cranston Street.