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Jul 25, 2008 03:24 PM

"Everyman Bistro", Providence - Pass!

In my quest for trying new restaurants in the Providence area, my friend and I decided to try a new Providence restaurant; "Everyman Bistro" in the "American Locomotice Works Complex" on Valley Street (off Rte 10). For those not familair, this is an old factory complex which has gotten plenty of press in the past few years as they have been slowly renovating the enormous complex into 'upscale apartments, condos, office, retail and restaurants'. So far, this one building has been renovated (it's my understanding this part of the complex will house a variety of "eateries") and "Everyman Bistro" is the first tenant there. They opened about a month ago, so we decided to have lunch.

The inside of the restaurant is welcoming enough - very casual, with no pretensions. The bartender/hostess/waitress sat us in a booth, which actually gave us a quaint and cozy feeling in such a cavernous space. There were a few other tables taken up, but not busy by any means. We were told this was their third full week of operations, since they opened the beginning of July. She gave us the lunch menu (which was minimal) as well as the dinner menu - which had more to choose from. She did tell us that everything used to prepare our foods are from local suppliers, locally grown, etc. Sounded tempting and impressive. We had high hopes that this would be a great lunch, and quickly become a favorite. Alas, our hopes vanished.

We started off with an appetizer of clam cakes ($3.50 for 4) which were very good, Not too big, not too greasy, not too salty, not too 'cakey' was deep fried to that 'golden' color (which means the oil is still 'new'). Our "hopes" were coming true.

For lunch, I opted for the 'Tuna Melt' while my companion ordered the 'Shrimp Skewer'. The Tuna Melt came with a side of fries (white potato and sweet potato mixed) while her Shrimp Skewer came with nothing - so she ordered "Kevin's Cole Slaw" on the recommendation of the waitress.

The Tuna Melt @ $8.50 offered nothing special - tuna (swimming in mayo), a slice of tomato, a slice of American cheese served open-face broiled on rye bread - packaged bread. They could have made it interesting with some other kind of bread choices baked locally...after all, they boast about their 'local commitment'. A sprinklle of sprouts or carrots - perhaps grwon locally? Soemthing mixed in with the tuna aside from the heavy hand in the mayo? Their specialty bistro sandwich was more on par with a cafeteria 'tuna melt' rather than a 'bistro' offering. The fries were OK - again, nothing memorable and not too generous a portion.

The "Shrimp Skewer" was a major, major disappointment @ $9.99. "Layered with vegetables" and "brushed with savory oils and spices" is how it was described. That's hardly what was presented. A few chunks of tomato, a few chunks of summer squash - and that was it for the layers of vegetables. Savory spices? We couldn't taste them. The shrimp - two baby shrimp on each end of the skewer - did not have the"real fresh" taste we were both expecting; it came across as frozen not fresh.

The Cole Slaw ($3.50) was a small portion and simply horrible. It had the taste and appearance of being old; probably from having been sitting around the refrigerator since the day they opened. It should not have been served at all, since it had the taste of 'on it's way out'. We did mention this to the waitress (when she realized it was not eaten - just a fork-taste from each of us) that it was inedible and tasted old and she answered "Oh yeah?" with a laugh, but didn't bother removing it from the bill.

We decided to try something for dessert - their only offering was frshly baked 'Jazzwell apple pie' since they sold out of eevrything already (and it was only 1 pm - they opened at 11:30 am). She suggested 'a la mode' . The pie was (literally) a sliver - not enough for two to share - and tasted on par with Table Talk (I doubt it was freshly baked) @ $6.00. The 'ala mode' ice cream was a melon-ball scoop of vanilla ice cream @ $2.00 more.

Total came to $46 (no alcoholic drinks - just coffee and iced tea) - $54 with tip...for cafeteria food, no less.

Over all - an experience not worth repeating, and certainly not worth recommending. If you feel you must try it (they offer folk music at night in the courtyard), stick with an order of clamcakes...and nothing else.

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    1. Hmmm, that's too bad, close to my office. I might still give it a go.

      Re the pie....that would be Jaswell's....a farmstand/berry farm in Smithfield and they do have pies, so I'm sure it was from them. I've had their pies and they were good, not Table Talk.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JaneRI

        Had to be Jaswell's. And I like their pies!

        Could it be that they called it Jaswell's and it wasn't?

        That's a bummer----I love that bldg and what is being done with it. Here's hoping that some better food shows up there.

      2. I'm so surprised to read this! I just visited Everyman and had a very good experience -- except maybe the AC was on a little too high. I had the clam cakes, which, as you mentioned were fabulous. I tried the seafood etouffe, which was good, but not really a winner of a dish (I would try something else on a return trip). My bf had the fish and chips however, and it was absolutely a winner of a dish. Not too greasy, light batter, a good amount of fish and the fries were nice and crispy.

        My understanding is that they've only had a "soft opening" so perhaps they are still working out the kinks in their menu. I wouldn't give up on it!

        The atmosphere kind of won me over as well, considering they have live music there often and even an open mike night. Not bad for a pretty much forgotten part of town.

        1 Reply
        1. re: staysha

          Did you go there for lunch or for dinner?

          I was tempted on the fish and chips (because the clam cakes were so delicious) but that was 'sold out' that afternoon.

          My major complaint is that it is very, very pricey for "OK" food - nothing memorable. I do hope they make the necessary changes and work the kinks out, because it could very well be a wonderful place, as you say - in a forgotten part of town.

        2. We checked out Everyman this past Friday night. At around 8:30pm, it was pretty empty, but there were enough people eating and sitting at the bar to make us feel not-out-of-place. We sat at the bar. There was a jazz duo playing on stage - really a pleasant atmosphere. We started with jonnycakes topped with gravy. They came out with crispy edges and tender centers - just the way I like them. B (his first jonnycake) was not impressed by them. He got the gorgonzola stuffed burger with hand-cut fries. I don't even eat meat but he urged me to take a bite - I found it quite tasty. The burger was cooked perfectly and obviously made with quality meat and hand-formed. I had the seafood etoufee - this night, it was chock-full of scallops, fish, and shrimp. Mildly-flavored, which I liked. Brothy and tomato-less. He had Dogfish Head 60 min IPA on draft and I stuck with a crisp, dry French rose. It may not be destination dining, but we would definitely use this place as an everyday dinner kind of place. One note: our food took a while to come out.

          2 Replies
          1. re: digga

            jonnycakes w/gravy? Red sauce or the beige stuff? I've only ever eaten them as pancakes, w/maple syrup.

            1. re: JaneRI

              Brown, meat gravy. I have seen them savory before, but I can't remember where. FYI, Everyman also offers them with maple syrup.

          2. Bumping up this thread...we just finished a nice meal at Everyman tonight. It's been off our radar but we were glad we stopped in tonight. Again, not many people in there, but it's a pleasant space. Owner was at the bar, chatting with us and the bartender was lovely. I had the tasty clams zuppa with red sauce and dried penne (the sauce was supposed to be spicy but it barely registered on my was tasty though). It was a big portion but I polished it off (it also came with a side salad)...I might like it even better with a fresh pasta. B had a side of french fries (skinny-type, skin-on, made in-house..yum) and the seared scallop salad. Fresh and tasty. To drink I had a viognier and a crisp Oregonian pinot gris. B had the Peak Organic IPA. We never get dessert but we got the fruit+nut+dark chocolate platter. Orange wheels, thin Granny Smith apple slices, toasted almonds and fried almonds (wow - frying really brings out the flavor without a trace of grease). Shards of dark chocolate that were wonderful but they need to be served in bigger chunks for easier eating. We each had a glass of tawny port. $86 before tip.

            The same (I think) jazz duo we saw last year, playing Dave Brubeck and the like...lots of musicianship up there on a quiet Saturday night. It's a shame....these guys deserve a bigger audience. But everyone there was appreciative. Just as we were of the food, atmosphere, and service. I said this before, but if we were in Providence full time, we'd surely be there more often. It would definitely fit the bill for weeknight meals for us. Alas, we are in Boston 99% of the time.

   are back on our radar.

            2 Replies
            1. re: digga

              Enough said thanks I will take the free pass

              1. re: Frank Terranova

                I returned for the second time about two weeks ago, after my disappointing experience last summer...figuring they worked out the kinks. This time I went with the mac-n-cheese, while my friend opted for the burger. The mac-n-cheese was rather loose and watery (rather than 'creamy'), and the burger had to be sent back to be cooked correctly (she ordered it medium-well, it came out rare). Service was sketchy, even though the place was empty. I think I'll stay away for another year or so.