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Now Eating Vol 1: PVD/RI 8/14

it seems the majority of posts on here are motivated by one of two extremes: a stellar experience, or a terrible one. i thought it might be useful to have an ongoing thread to discuss the large middleground of meals that maybe don't merit a five paragraph review.

so i intend to make this a running list of restaurant visits, farmers market finds, food trucks, and take out orders; hopefully others will add theirs as well.

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  1. last night: dinner at cook & brown. we hadn't been here in about a year and a half. dining room was mostly empty at 7pm and didn't pick up much while we were there. started with a roasted bone marrow appetizer that was decadent and delicious. wife had baked orecchietti with smoked pork, it was a good hearty one bowl dinner. i had fried chicken with typical sides. the chicken (drumstick, thigh, and half breast) was perfect: extremely crispy and juicy. the grean beans and potato salad sides were good but a bit nondescript. the biscuit was unfortunately VERY dry. it was a lot of food overall and i was very pleased overall. we each tried one of their special cocktails and they were good enough that we went back for seconds. my wife in particular really loved hers (something involving cucumber and hot sauce).

    i was surprised the place was so dead but i guess having chez pascal right next door (doing a great business by the looks of it) must be a challenge to say the least.

    3 Replies
    1. re: wormwood

      I have heard some nice things about Cook and Brown.Before I went I checked their food handling. Pretty deplorable.Actually very bad.

      1. re: Frank Terranova

        Jeez, I just looked up their DOH inspection from last year--it was a little gross! I will note, however, that they closed briefly this summer to undertake renovations in the kitchen, not the dining area. Hopefully some of these maintenance issues are being addressed.

        1. re: RhodyRedHen

          Rhody its food handling not kitchen issues. When you looked there were two of them 2 weeks apart. Both were bad. DOH section is afraid of placing grading marks for food places.

    2. Thanks Wormwood. This thread is a good idea. I'm in!

      I went blueberry picking yesterday and considered posting but thought my experience wasn't chowhoundy enough but It fits nicely in a thread like this.

      Here goes:

      Picked several pounds of blueberries at Rocky Point Farm in Warwick. Quite a large patch, must be hundreds of bushes.

      You get a plastic pail lined with a sturdy plastic bag and head for the bushes. Picking was easy. There were amble ripe berries with many on their way. We were able to stay within one row.

      To cash out, berries are weighed; the charge is $2.50 per pound. My three-plus pounds, about half a pail-full, were less than $8.00.

      The farm is open every day during the summer months from 7 am to noon. On Thursdays from 4 pm to dusk. (The Google map that pops up on the web has inaccurate times.)


      Now to do some baking!

      1. Good idea! The biggest eating event in my neck of the woods is not restaurant related at the moment--it's wineberry season! Wineberries are an invasive berry species from Asia, and in my family, we consider it part of our civic duty to eat as many as possible to prevent further ecological contamination ;)

        Wineberries are extremely easy to identify and don't really look like any other, potentially poisonous species, so they're a good pick for the novice forager. Of course, always do research before eating any wild berry and double-check your identification with pictures online (or talk to an expert.) They grow on disturbed land, margins, basically anywhere a bird drops them. When perfectly ripe, the berries are deep, ruby red and look a bit like a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. They are a great flavor and not oversweet. I don't think they're commercially cultivated, so wild harvest is your only opportunity to try them.

        We've gathered several pounds so far and been enjoying wineberry buckle, wineberry parfaits, and fresh wineberries by the handful. Wineberry jam is on the docket for this weekend (first time attempting it, but the harvest has been very bountiful this year.)

        On an unrelated note, in addition to butchered meat, Persimmon Provisions in Barrington also offers a limited selection of restaurant-prepared foods. Right now, they've got very good quality pulled pork. It's not cheap (~$10/pound), but one container is enough for around 4 sandwiches. I've also added it to stews, etc. Right now, they also have a homemade salami available called finocchiona. It's small and fennel-flavored. They don't have them all the time, so it's a special treat.

        2 Replies
        1. re: RhodyRedHen

          i'm very interested in hearing about foraged and wild foods in season locally. i'll keep my eyes open for wineberries, wasn't familiar with them (or maybe i have seen them and just assumed they were raspberries).

          1. re: wormwood

            Wineberries are finished, but the blackberries are ready in places. They often grow right alongside the wineberries ( ripe in July) and the wild black raspberries (ripe in June). They're really good, but beware the thorns!

        2. This thread is a great idea.

          In the past week, I've gotten Tallulah's Tacos twice for lunch. Carnitas both times, you can definitely get great tacos, burritos, etc., for less $$, but these tacos are just ridiculous. So good. They serve pickled (not just sliced) radishes on the side, and those are delicious. The pork itself is the best pork I've had in a taco, period. The people there are awfully nice, also. Can't wait to go again.

          Also in the past week, the husband and I had lunch at Taco Mix (Broad St., Central Falls). Had not been there since they moved to this location. The service was really slow but very friendly, and the tacos were great. Not life-altering, but very good, and I'd get them again.

          Also in the past week, I had a beer brat from Chez Pascal's Wurst Window. It was out of this world and I can't wait to get another one---and also try their "pork on pork"---a homemade pork sausage with bacon in it. The toppings and bun made a great brat complete----some kind of roasted onion puree, and homemade mustard. So good.

          As I type this, I'm seeing a pattern. There is no reason I should be getting lunch out this much---I work from home, lol. Just got carried away this week.

          1. We tried Bocado last night, which opened in the old Cuban Revolution space in Olneyville. We've eaten at the original Worcester location and had positive, sangria-tinged memories of our meals there, so expectations were relatively high. Overall, it was a solid-to-good experience. We had reservations, but the restaurant was completely full when we arrived, and we ended up waiting almost a half-hour for our table--not an auspicious start to the meal. The restaurant space is noisy, due to the high factory ceilings, open kitchen, and long bar. The place was slammed from the moment we arrived to the time we left. Still, the kitchen seemed to handle our meal in a timely way. Bocado is a good value for what you get. The menu offers "experiences" for 2, 4, or 6 diners--set price meals to share. We did the two-person program, which included 2 cheese/charcuterie, 4 tapas, 1 large plate (paella or the like), and dessert. Although the listed menu price for this meal is $75, they seem to be running a promotion for $60. In short, a ton of food for a reasonable price.

            The food itself ranged from ok to good. We started with a fried goat cheese (large for two people,) with honey, almonds, pickled pepper, and ham--a satisfying start. We opted for a veggie tapa of greens, pickled golden beets, asparagus, and manchego--not very impressive. There was no discernible salt or dressing on the plate (not even a bit of olive oil or vinegar) so the only way to get any flavor was to have a bit of pickled beet in every bite. For hot tapas, we ordered braised rabbit, shrimp burgers, and piquillo peppers stuffed with veal and cheese. The shrimp burgers and the peppers were very tasty. The rabbit (one braised leg served on a piece of toast) was ok; oddly enough, it tasted like thanksgiving turkey with stuffing. We had a monthly special for our shared large plate--sea bass cheeks with a summer veg succotash and herb sauce. This was also quite good and large enough to feed four. Dessert was churros with chocolate sauce. Hit the spot.

            When it was time to leave, we had some trouble finding a server to get us the check, but it wasn't a big deal. Throughout the rest of the night, we were well looked after--drinks delivered promptly, water glasses refilled, plates cleared, etc. The service was very friendly, and managers were on-hand overseeing everything and pitching in when necessary. Overall, it looks like there's already a lot of interest in Bocado. It's a solid option for Spanish tapas, though nowhere near the authenticity (or, frankly, delicious simplicity,) of Flan y Ajo. Good value, hopping scene, solid food, parking--we probably won't rush back, but I'm sure we'll eat there again come winter.

            1. bacado just ran a promotion on groupon a week or two ago, might have something to do with the crowd...

              wife and i tried the new uncle tony's in johnston (site of the old j & d's family restaurant). we live right around the corner and were hoping for a quick sandwich and beer at the bar, but there is no bar. we split a snail salad and a sausage and pepper sandwich. both were very good standard presentations. snail salad was quite large for 9.99; we probably could have just split this for lunch if we had accepted the bread we were offered when the waitress sat us. will probably just stick to take out here; the dining room was packed at 2pm, lots of kids, and having to wait for a table is a little more "formal" than i was hoping for a quick lunch.

              1. Great thread!

                The new Dave's coffee location on S. Main St. has some great am pastries. I was lucky enough to get a blueberry muffin fresh from the oven this week. It was the huge, not overly sweet, with a perfect, slightly crisp top. They also have a number of savory pastries.

                My latte was great too and service is super friendly.

                1. stopped at Providence Oyster Bar after work last night for happy hour ($1 oysters, all appetizers $6). wife and i shared the crab sliders and a dozen oysters. wish i could say the food was better, but it was just ok. james river oysters were a bit flavorless and the sliders were a bit too wet and just lacked any kind of pizzazz. it's a good value for the food (you couldn't even beat $6 for two sliders and a plate of fries at burger king), but the drink prices... ouch. i do not balk at $15+ cocktails when the drink/service merits it, but $10 for well vodka is a bit outrageous to me.

                  1. Went to Bacaro's last night in Providence. Split a huge "salad" of local corn, tomatoes, crutons and basil which was super tasty. Then we split a chacuterie plate of lots of tasty cheese, meat, etc. Also very good. Had the Negroni cocktail - never had one before and really liked it. Kind of like a slightly sweet martini or cross between a manhattan and a martini.

                    1. take out pie from Catanzaro's on mineral spring last night. over the last couple of years they have grown to become my favorites for this style of thicker crust pizza. sauce is always excellent and they use great quality ingredients (you ask for mushrooms you get sliced portobellos, not some joblot canned button mushrooms).

                      1. I'm not in RI all that often anymore, but I still occasionally make it to Pho Horn in Pawtucket and y'know I'm always totally satisfied with eating there. It's steady and they're nice and it's better than most of the Vietnamese places I've been to in Boston.

                        1. Chilango's continues to satisfy. Dinner for two, with two drinks apiece: $47. How can you beat it? If you haven't been in awhile, they did a pretty drastic redecorating job. Also new (relatively speaking) is that they now offer food and drink specials in addition to the standard menu. Creative cocktails made with housemade bitters is not something I usually expect from a traditional Mexican restaurant. My wife's drink included tequila, St Germain, horchata and other things that I forget. It was excellent; a beautiful head of foam (I assume egg whites but they weren't listed) and served in a classic coupe glass.

                          1. Went to the Salted Slate for lunch today. They've done good things with the old Farmstead space. The former cheese counter is now a spacious bar, the wall separating the dining room and the old cheese shop is still there, but it's been opened up, and the small bar in the back of the dining room is gone. Sadly, the window seats are also gone (I used to quite like sitting there.) Tried a fresh veggie slate with homemade cannellini hummus, harissa, and artichoke spread and toasted flatbread(the slate was, indeed, salted.) This was a nice, light start. For lunch, salad with baby greens, Bermuda onion, thin-sliced roasted yellow beet, and hazelnut brittle. The hazelnut brittle was delicious, but very chewy (a dental nightmare), but the vinaigrette dressing was extremely tangy and delicious. Three shrimp on top were an additional $9 (!) The sandwiches going by looked very good and enormous. Overall, good quality but not such a great price. I'll go back for dinner sometime.

                            1. We have been taking out food from rock solid institutions:

                              Catanzaros - today's gold standard for RI style pizza

                              Blount seafood shack - Richmond St, also Crescent Park

                              Sandwich Hut

                              1. Went to Salted Slate in Wayland. I don't usually get the chicken but it was recommended, and it was good! My companion thought it was a bit salty, but I was fine with it, moist, with crispy skin and a good flavor. Also ordered was the pork chop. Both were pricy at $27, but the portions were big, it was truly a half chicken. Meatball and mac and cheese apps were also good. My husband had the pot roast app, which he said was cooked well, but was dry, it needed sauce. Drinks were in the expected price range of $10-$12 (when did that become the norm??), but wines were priced high... usually I find wines to be about $3-$4 below the mixed drink, but here all the wines were in the $9-$12 range too. Dinner was good, will probably go back and would recommend.

                                1. went to Los Andes last night. figured we would try a tuesday since our usual night out (thursday) is so busy there. didn't make any difference; place was absolutely packed, including tables outside. despite this, our table of 8 got perfect service, perfectly executed food, and a typically warm reception from the owners. it's gratifying to see that their (richly deserved) success has not prompted them to rest on their laurels; if anything they seem to try harder to outdo themselves every time we return.

                                  Los Andes
                                  903 Chalkstone Ave, Providence, RI 02908
                                  (401) 649-4911

                                  1. Went back to Den Den Cafe Asiana on Benefit right next to Geoff's last night. Packed, even on a Tuesday. I am in love with this place. Perfect spot, casual and unpretentious, extremely friendly staff, excellent service, reasonable prices and, above all, delicious food.

                                    Wife and I went with the Monkey Balls (deep fried mushrooms stuffed with spicy tuna & special sauce) and Pork Gyoza for apps. Both are phenomenal. For an entree had to get the Hot Stone Bibimbap yet again. Can not recommend this enough. Just a perfect blend of flavors. Love how the sesame oil at the bottom of the hot stone bowl crisps up the rice. Like a bonus treat for making it to the bottom. Looks so damn good when they bring it to your table that it is almost a shame to mix...almost. Have always gotten this with the traditional spicy sauce but they offer a citrus garlic soy sauce as well that I have to get around to trying. So many other fantastic choices on their menu that I haven't even gotten to yet.

                                    All in all another stellar meal at Den Den and here I am, already thinking about going back.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: soze45

                                      Love that place! We went last week too, had the scallion pancakes for app, (didn't realize they were seafood scallion pancakes), which were great and I got the sweet potato noodles and my husband the spicy pork dish.

                                      1. re: soze45

                                        sounds great. i hadn't heard of this place, definitely look forward to checking it out.

                                        1. re: soze45

                                          Couldn't agree more. I place Den Den up there with Birch and a Boston area Thai place as my top 3 meals of the year so far. Providence finally has a consistently top level Asian restaurant.

                                          Speaking of consistent, BTW, I think Abyssinia has been consistently very good recently, much better now than their originally inconsistent early months. A visit to Blue Nile up here in the Boston area, supposedly the best of the Boston Ethiopian/Eritrean options here (it was just ok) made me miss it.

                                        2. Had the chance to try bites of a variety of North Bakery pastries at a dinner party last night. The chocolate chip cookie was, as always, amazing, with pockets of solid chocolate and a bit of salt on top. The peanut butter cookie was also fantastic and the lemon bar was one of the best I've had.

                                          The faux-reo and macaroon were fine, but nothing special.

                                          Overall my experience with desserts there has been better than breakfast pastries. Anyone tried anything amazing for breakfast?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: barfly

                                            Whoops, missed this post before I added a comment on a new breakfast item from North Bakery (see below). It's an egg and cheese stuffed bagel, and I thought it was great! I've actually preferred their savory offerings thus far, especially the savory scones and handpies, but then, I'm usually there around breakfast time, so I'm not in the mood for sweets!

                                          2. Such a great weekend of eating...Took a diverse family group to Broadway Bistro for a fabulous meal. I would have happily eaten every single thing on their current menu, plus all the specials. BB is such a great place to bring people with varied sense of adventurousness when it comes to eating. Folks who like more interesting food will be satisfied, and the more conservative diners can also find something they'll eat. On the current menu, I highly recommend the gnocchi and the arugula salad--both appetizers.

                                            Lunch at Tallulah's Taqueria. They had a photo of an adorable goat to promote their goat taco, and, perversely, I felt compelled to try it. It was delicious, as were the fish taco and the barbacoa taco. Dessert from Silver Star bakery directly across the street, and it was fun to see the parade of regular customers stopping in to pick up their weekly loaf of sweet bread. Had the pastéis de nata, which brought us back to the time we spent in Lisbon.

                                            Stopped by North Bakery for breakfast today. They had an item I hadn't seen before--a bagel stuffed with egg and herb cheese. Good lord. It was AMAZING, especially chewy and warm from the oven.

                                            1. wife and i went to chez pascal's tomato dinner on monday night. food was delicious as you would no doubt expect but honestly i felt the portions were TOO big (what a crazy complaint, i know). it was five courses (with several specialty breads also incorporating tomatoes) and going into the 4th course we were seriously running out of steam.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: wormwood

                                                Jealous! I haven't eaten there in awhile, and I live very near.
                                                I just get the bratwursts at the wurst window whenever possible---better than any similar than I've had anywhere.

                                              2. The Wurst Kitchen, at Chez Pascal on Hope Street in Providence, now sells retail. Hot dogs, six to a package, are $12; and wurst, four to a package, are $10. There were three varieties of sausages to choose from the day I was there. I bought a package of knockwurst. It was a birthday gift so I haven't had a chance to try it.

                                                I did, however, order a hot dog which I enjoyed at one of the high top tables in the tiny charming bar. There are four seats at the bar and two high tops that seat three on each side, all tucked inside Chez Pascal. It is hard to describe how delicious a hot dog can be. My go-to frankfurter is a Saugy but the Wurst Kitchen house made one is beyond caparison, flavorfully spiced and juicy in a perfect hot dog bun. The honey apple mustard turned it into a marvel.

                                                Kristin and Matt Gennuso have come up with a great combination, Chez Pascal for truly fine dining and the Wurst Kitchen for a terrific casual lunch.