HOME > Chowhound > Southern New England >
Are you making a specialty food? Tell us about it

Weird menu item at new Westerly, RI restaurant

Joltingjoey Aug 10, 2010 12:56 PM

As most area folks know, Up River Cafe closed its doors for good during the floods in late March. It recently reopened as The Bridge under new ownership. I picked up a menu yesterday and was struck by several things: although most prices seem fairly typical for the area, they charge $9 for a bowl of creamy chowder and $15 for a Cobb salad (?!). But here's the real kicker:

In a separate box it reads, "Hey, it's hot in there! Enjoying your meal? Buy a 6 pack of PBR"s for the kitchen....$10.00." Now first of all, I can buy a 6 pack of Pabst for about $3.50--the restaurant probably gets it for $2.00. But since when would a customer buy beer for the kitchen workers? I almost always leave about 20% to the waitstaff. Isn't that enough?

Has anyone seen this elsewhere? Is it a new trend? Please help me with this.
Oh, and if anyone's eaten there, a report would be appreciated. They have a web site at


  1. a
    Alica Oct 29, 2010 10:20 AM

    I heard that the chef from Noah's in Stonington is now here. Maybe things will get better.

    1. invinotheresverde Oct 3, 2010 04:08 PM

      Julian's, in PVD, also has a buy a round for the kitchen on their menu.

      1. l
        lexyboo Aug 24, 2010 07:46 AM

        Have gone to Bridge but just for lunch. I thought the lunch menu was rather unimaginative, I hate "building your own sandwich" if I wanted to build it I would make one at home. Also everything seemed to come with vegan mayo, and while I appreciate catering to those people, please think of just more then one accoutrement for all the sandwich's. Would still go back and try dinner.

        1. j
          JaneRI Aug 23, 2010 11:41 AM

          Nat Porter (closed now, was a restaurant in Warren) used to have this on their menu as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JaneRI
            L2k Aug 26, 2010 04:59 PM

            Back Eddy has it as well

            Back Eddy
            1 Bridge Rd, Westport, MA 02790

          2. s
            Shann Aug 23, 2010 05:52 AM

            Never heard of it, sounds like just a good spirited way to get some attention for the kitchen staff. Oh, and where do you get PBR for $3.50.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Shann
              Joltingjoey Aug 25, 2010 02:14 PM

              Shann--Just got an 18-pack for $9.99 at a local store not known for low prices.

            2. o
              omnivoreswanderlust Aug 14, 2010 10:49 AM

              I do this often for an exceptional experience. Anything from champagne to a pitcher of draft depending on the total bill and preference of the staff. If near the end of service, the chef will give a tour of the kitchen and chat with the crew. It's always revealing to speak with a Japanese chef training at a tiny Slow Food restaurant in Piemonte, meeting the Roca brothers in Girona and having a laugh with a Columbian stage at Louis XV. That level of dedication and pride among young chefs always rejuvenates my return to the stove.

              1 Reply
              1. re: omnivoreswanderlust
                ospreycove Aug 14, 2010 11:19 AM

                Maybe it is a cheeky way of saying "If you really liked your dinner let the cooks know, with$$$$

              2. trufflehound Aug 14, 2010 10:04 AM

                I'll be in Westerly in a couple weeks. Any other good suggestions?

                4 Replies
                1. re: trufflehound
                  Alica Aug 16, 2010 05:53 AM

                  Bruna's Table is good, head to Stonington (15 minutes away) Noah's, Water Street, Dog Watch.

                  Water Street Cafe
                  25 Water St, Plymouth, MA 02360

                  1. re: Alica
                    Localculinariat Sep 28, 2010 02:05 PM

                    Dog Watch is a poor recommendation to eat- it is a drinking establishment that serves food-

                    Dog Watch Cafe
                    194 Water St, Stonington, CT 06378

                    1. re: Localculinariat
                      Alica Oct 4, 2010 05:03 AM

                      I would not say it is that bad. What restaurants in that area do you enjoy?

                  2. re: trufflehound
                    llapa00 Aug 22, 2010 01:53 PM

                    After a week in Westerly, Bridge was our favorite restaurant! Husband had the swordfish special (like Alicia's!) and I the lobster mac&cheese (fabulous with fresh chives and corn, not too heavy). Of course we started with oysters at the raw bar (nice place to wait for a table and have a drink).

                    Also enjoyed Matunuck Oyster Farm (in Matunuck, not far from Westerly)... great oysters... nice lobster roll (altho I prefer a CT hot lobster roll to the chilled version). Perfect outdoor seating on a nice day.

                    S&P Oyster in Mystic was good... but they overcooked both my tuna and my hubby's. Service was fair. Always a wait there...

                    Bruna's Table has really spotty service, but good food.

                    Mermaid Cafe was a nice outdoor lunch option.

                    Van Ghent is great for breakfast---real Belgain waffles and crepes.

                    Have fun!

                  3. trufflehound Aug 14, 2010 10:03 AM

                    For a good meal, I'll gladly buy the cooks a beer. Working in those hot conditions they deserve it.

                    1. a
                      Alica Aug 13, 2010 07:31 PM

                      We went to The Bridge for the first time last night. All in all we thought it was pretty good. The only complaint we had was the kitchen was a bit backed up ( maybe it was the beer! Just kidding!) I got Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese dressing for an app. I got a special swordfish with greenbeans and wonderful garden tomatoes. My husband got sardine salad which he really liked and he got the fried clam plate. He really liked both. The clams were good, not greasy, not covered with a really thick coating. The only food complaint was both of our friends got mushroom ravioli. they liked it but they only gave them 4 ravioli and they felt that was not enough.
                      I look forward to going back, there were many items on the menu that I would like to try.

                      1. j
                        jkuhlen Aug 11, 2010 10:46 AM

                        I don't know of any other places, but at East Coast Grill in Cambridge, MA, its a long standing tradition for customers to buy beer for the cook staff. They all used to bang pots and pans as a thank you, but the last time I made a donation they just applauded and cheered. Maybe the pots and pans thing was disturbing to other customers. It is not a menu item at ECG, you just buy whatever at a package store nearby. I don't think they are able to consume it until later in the evening.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jkuhlen
                          sarabean Aug 11, 2010 01:30 PM

                          ok, for the very most part, cooks do NOT drink while on the clock, and they certainly are not permitted to by any chef i've ever known. i have bought many pitchers of beer for the guys and gals at thee red fez in providence, and it is a printed suggestion on their menu, all the way at the bottom. those cooks have fed me so much delicious delightful food out of that cramped, hot little kitchen over the years, i'm more than happy to throw em a pitcher. i can see how it would seem strange to the average diner but to industry folks it's a sign of respect. it's also good to know that the proprietors are announcing to their guests that they feel their hard working cooks deserve a cold beer!

                        2. invinotheresverde Aug 11, 2010 10:01 AM

                          What they're doing may actually be illegal, since in MA (and I'm almost positive RI) you can't charge two different prices for the same drink. On the menu, a PBR is $2 each, which would be six for $12. Hopefully they offer the six for $12 dealie to all their guests.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: invinotheresverde
                            Localculinariat Sep 28, 2010 02:03 PM

                            I would question a chef you considers himself of distinguished taste that would consume PBR, which in my opinion is even garbage compared to High Life...

                          2. f
                            Frobisher Aug 11, 2010 06:08 AM

                            The Red Fez has a similar item on the menu. I've never exercised that option, though I also don't take offense at it. While perhaps not a 'joke', I think its fair to call the "buy the kitchen some beers" a lighthearted suggestion.

                            Red Fez
                            49 Peck St, Providence, RI 02903

                            1. c
                              coastalgypsy Aug 10, 2010 02:01 PM

                              First , if the kitchen staff can drink on the job, I'm putting in an application ASAP.
                              Second, I'm really impressed that they have vegetarian/vegan entrees... our little town has come so far!
                              Third, yes, $9 for a bowl of clam chowder is pushing it... maybe it's a really BIG bowl with a nice loaf of french bread to go with it... but rarely do you see a sit-down restaurant that offers clam fritters.
                              Now, if they could just fix the misspelling of "Guiness" on their beer menu....

                              1. t
                                Tinkerbelldee Aug 10, 2010 01:18 PM

                                I am quite cerain that it is a joke, just a way to lighten up people.

                                A local restaurant has a few funny quirks on their menu too. Under sides, it has one old gym sock for $5.00 with cheese $5.50

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Tinkerbelldee
                                  Joltingjoey Aug 11, 2010 05:24 AM

                                  Interesting thought, Tinker, but I doubt it. The menu overall is not jokey or quirky, and if this is an attempt at humor, it's pretty lame.

                                  I do agree with coastalgypsy that there's an impressive selection of veggie dishes. We'll probably try lunch there, maybe next week.

                                Show Hidden Posts