Just about every group of friends has a go-to spot for their regular get togethers. Rachel, Monica and the gang had Central Perk. Carrie, Samantha and the girls frequented their fave breakfast spot and Jerry, Kramer and Elaine sat down together at Tom’s Diner. When a group of friends get together over food and drink, you end up bonding over fighting for the cheesiest nacho or the last fry. Someone always ends up laughing so hard they snort their beer out of their nose. Maybe someone falls out of a chair. Here in little Providence, the go-to spot for you and your buds to let loose and eat good is right on historic Federal Hill. If you are expecting me to name an Italian restaurant, you’re wrong. Shocker, right? Step into your comfort zone at Federal Hill Tap House, your new fave spot for your friends-night-out.
When you go out in a group, it can be tough to please everyone. Becky is on the Paleo diet, Tim will only drink craft beer, and Maria wants a fancy cocktail. Just when you thought that someone in the group is going to get hit with the “tough luck”, you remember that Federal Taphouse has something for literally everyone in your crew. From a healthy salmon dish to a overly indulgent buff chick dip, the group will be pleased.
The atmosphere is dim, but lit. Ha! The dark stained wood and hanging lights create a whole mood, and a buzz of fun hits you as soon as you open the door. People don’t come here to mope, that’s for sure. Groups of friends are cheersing, someone just called out bingo, and the smell of buttery goodness wafts into your senses. Take a seat, and enjoy your night.
Speaking of hanging with friends, make sure to order the buffalo chicken dip for a sharable way to start the night. A pile of crispy tortilla chips wait to plunge into this glorious, golden dip, so thick it might break a chip or two. But try, try again. Whipped cream cheese is spiced up with a hot buffalo sauce, folded in with cream bleu cheese. White meat shredded chicken joins the party and adds an extra heartiness. Topped off with a fistful of cheese (and then some) and finished with fresh pico de gallo. It feels like a game day celebration when you take the first bite
We know that the start of the week can be a total drag, but at least when you get through Monday, you have Taco Tuesday to look forward to. Federal Taphouse sets you up for success with three tacos for only $7, and not no little boring tacos either. Hoisin Pork tacos are spicy sweet and topped with a juicy pineapple salsa. Red onion and a dash of BBQ makes for a tangy kick.
Baja fried fish is light and tender, with a cilantro crema, creamy slaw and smashed avocado all wrapped up to give you the vibes of beach front Cali. Finally Carne Asada boasts succulent marinated steak, crumble queso fresco, bright citrusy salsa and a smokey chipotle crema. If you are having a hard time deciding which one you want, take the easy way out and get one of each. The only thing that could make this meal better would be if I told you it could all be washed down with a $5 margarita. Oh wait! It can! We sipped on a strawberry jalapeno margarita, the ideal balance between sweet and spicy. Tuesdays don’t seem so bad afterall, do they?
This one goes out to the friend in your group who is committed to #fitfam and somehow manages to resist a cheat meal of nachos and pizza. The friend who is so over eating salads for every meal and wants something that is healthy AND delicious, dammnit! Is that so much to ask?! No, it is totally reasonable. The sweet and spicy mango habanero glazed salmon is just the dish your healthy friend has been looking for! A bit of heat and a tad sweet, this grilled salmon is cooked to a juicy medium and served over tenderly wilted spinach, toasted corn kernels, and roasted potatoes. Finished with a bright poblano salsa for that added pop of flavah.
On the other end of the spectrum, that friend who can’t have a seem to bare a meal with no meat is going to love Ma’s meatloaf. While it may give you some nostalgia of mommy’s meatloaf, this one is all grown up. This hearty meatloaf is wrapped in thick cut bacon and simmered in a sweet bourbon glaze, keeping all that juicy goodness soaked up tight. Of course it’s served over whipped red bliss mashed potatoes and bright broccoli, and it gets a crown of golden fried onion rings. Only consider this one if you are real, real hungry!
As I had mentioned, Federal Taphouse definitely gives the comfy and cozy vibe, so it only makes sense to offer a luxuriously over the top grilled cheese. A warm and hearty sandwich that screams “curl up on this booth and get comfortable, because we are in for the night.”
The short rib grilled cheese is served on buttery thick cut toast, lightly crisped along the edges. The short rib is slowly braised. It is tenderly shredded and moist, and is joined by a savory mix of mushrooms and onions. A generous heap of smoked gouda melts together, completing what I would call, the Father of All Grilled Cheeses. Warm pan gravy that spent hours cooking with that juicy short rib awaits a dip from every bite, to only further enhance the full experience of this grilled cheese experience.
Brunch is Sunday’s way of giving us one last hoorah before we all go back to work on Monday. So do it right, people! How about some chicken and waffle...fries. Yes! Golden, crispy waffle cut fries are tossed with crunchy fried chicken bites and topped off with a ton of cheese, a blanket of thicc gravy, and a sunny side up egg. Something tells me that this is how we will want our chicken and waffles going forward!
Brunch only comes once a week, so please enjoy it responsibly. And the responsible thing is do it to the max! We are talking bottomless bloodys and mimosas to keep you flowing throughout the day. You know what they say, Bottomless brunch is the best way to keep the Sunday Scaries at bay!
Always make sure you save room for dessert, especially at FTH. Although the cookie pie is big enough to share, we totally won’t judge if you take this down solo. A hot skillet keeps a ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookie toasty warm. The scoop of ice cream on top doesn’t stand a chance and little by little starts relinquishing itself to a sweet and chilly pool atop this dessert.
Most of us have fun memories of a childhood camping trip, sitting round the fire roasting up some marshmallows and making s’mores. Well FTH has a dessert that let’s you build your own S’more’s, sans the bug spray and smelling like a fireplace. Complete with all the deconstructed S’more components, skewers and a little mini fire, you can make your fave camping trip sweet, this time from the comfort of the great indoors. We like our marshmallows completely charred, so that the middle is nice n gooey and it helps to melt the chocolate. But hey, toast these mallows to your liking!
For some of us, the best desserts come in liquid form. For that end of dinner pick me up, an espresso martini will do the trick. Or if you love s'mores but want to be boozy, a campfire martini will bring both worlds together. Complete with a toasted marshmallow floater.
Honestly we can't help but have fun when we visit Federal Taphouse. Seemingly endless beer options, hand crafted cocktails and heart warming comfort food is a sure combination to enjoy your night out. Nestled into Providence’s historic Federal Hill, FTH doesn’t fit the norm of Italian dining, and instead creates it’s own lane. And whether you’re out with your best buds or a comfy cozy date night, you already know that FTH promises food and beverage that is always on point, and a vibe that is contagiously fun.
It is so easy to enjoy pizza. Simply take a bite and let the doughy, cheesey, saucy gift of the gods sink into your taste buds. But have you ever thought about what goes into making this heavenly delight? The careful science behind the delicate dough? The precise way to stretch the crust? The exact temperature to melt the cheese and tan the edges to a golden brown without overcooking it to a burnt ash? Well, we found out that it is far easier to eat pizza than it is to make it! We joined Chef Brian Ashness in the kitchen at Surf Club in Newport, and made our very own Neapolitan style pizza. And thanks to Chef Brian, we can cook up one hell of a pie now.
It started with a sprinkle of flour to roll out the dough. Chef showed us how to spread it thin, but keep it from ripping. He helped us to carefully press out the dough and maintain the shape, until it was just right and ready for toppings.
Next we ladled red sauce onto our dough (You already know that I poured an extra spoonful because I love sauce), and evenly saturated our soon-to-be crusts. I am a firm believer that a pizza derives so much of it’s power from the sauce, where all of the herbs and seasonings are fragrantly living. This sauce was melodically flavorful and tangy, the perfect foundation for our masterpiece pizza pies.
When you can add whatever toppings you want to a pizza, it is seriously hard to not go wild and literally pile 17 cheeses, 12 meats and 14 vegetables all on top. This is my personal idea of being a “kid in a candy shop”, except I am a grown adult trying to decide between gorgonzola and gouda. We wanted to maintain the integrity of our pizzas, to keep from overloading it and weighing down the dough. So on Molly’s pizza, she went with a classic mozzarella, sweet red onions, and finished it with arugula and prosciutto. My pizza was earthy with black olives, cremini mushrooms, and a rich, decadent black truffle spread. A sprinkle of this and a dash of that, and we have created our very own Picasso Pizzas.
Chef Ashness showed us how the pros slide a pizza into an oven easier than a bro slides into a chicks DMs. With a seemingly unnecessarily long paddle, we carefully placed our pizzas into the rotating oven and within 120 seconds, BOOM they were done! Bubbling and melting cheese, crispy crust. The hardest part? Waiting for it to cool before digging in!
Just an FYI, our pizzas came out AMAZING. The roofs of our mouths thanked us for giving them a moment to cool, so we could keep all of our taste buds actively enjoying our creations. While we were eating, Chef made whipped up a couple more, since you know, they cook in less than three minutes. (Keep this in mind this summer when you’re starving and don’t feel like waiting forever for food to fill you up post beach day. A quick pizza pops in the oven and gets in your mouth in minutes!)
A little pesto action, and a spicy pineapple made for some seriously solid toppings. Our pizza options seemed endless. Our appetites were wildly eager to judge which we liked best.
But Chef kept the food coming! Of course, we adore anything “bun” related, and it just so happens that one of Chef Brian’s favorite items on the menu is the Cubano Bun. He sears the outside of the adorable little bao buns so that they are ever so slightly crispy on the edges, but maintain their luxuriously doughy texture. Tasso ham, and pulled pork rest in between the buns, with tangy pickles and a flavorful mustard. These little buns have got a whole lot going for them. Two bite delights, perfect for sharing with your favorite human.
Just when I felt like I might have to undo my belt from excessive fullness, Chef came out with a dish that I simply could not say no to. A macaroni and cheese crab cake. YES! Elbow macaroni in a creamy house made cheese sauce, hand mixed and packed with shredded lump crab and placed atop of a smooth mustard seed sauce. DAMN, this dish was brilliant! Cracking into it was like opening presents on Christmas day as a child. The crisp on the outside was like a protective shell to the ooey-gooey tastiness inside. Luxurious crab cake meets heavy mac daddy comfort food!
Big thanks to our friends at Surf Club!
Shout out to Chef Brian Ashness for bringing us back in the kitchen and showing us how to make a mean pizza!
If you want to have some fun and make your own pizza at Surf Club, check out their monthly pizza classes!
Love tacos? Big fan of tequila? Those were rhetorical questions because of course you do. Join Surf Club for their tacos and tequila night for SIX courses, each paired with a cocktail. Grab your tickets here.
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Does this mean that in turn, brunch is the most important meal of the week? You work real hard, and brunch is the best way you can reward yourself after an exhausting forty hours of labor spent at your monday through friday. The weekend is for going to bed without setting an alarm, cheating on your week day diet and throwing around the phrase “treat yo self” one too many times. The question that comes to mind as the whistle blows at 5pm on Friday is, “where will I be brunching this weekend?”, and the answer to your weekend prayers is Laura’s Bar and Grill in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
Laura’s Bar and Grill opened a year ago, following huge success at the Laura’s Pleasant Valley Diner, so you could say that they have flipped an egg or two, and know their way around a breakfast menu. Let’s make it brunch with some booze!
The king and queen of brunch beverages are bloody marys and mimosas. I personally worship bloody marys, and am willing to travel out of my way for a particularly good one. And the bloodys are Laura’s are good enough that I would walk there if I have to. I think of bloody marys as a blank canvas; the tomato juice base can be dressed with spices, seasonings, toppings and rims galore. Laura’s lets you take the reigns and build your own bloody, so you can get real creative. Of course you’ve got your traditional garnishes that make a bloody a bloody; your celery stalk, your trio of skewered olives and lemon.
To kick it up a notch, opt for a crispy piece of bacon or a slab of beef jerky. Maybe stuff those olives with Bleu Cheese. Even the tomato juice gets a makeover with options like lemon and rosemary, pineapple habanero for that sweet and spicy mix, or extra spicy for those who love heat. To finish off your masterpiece, give your lips something yummy to meet when they first touch the glass to sip! We went with an everything bagel rim, and it was everything I had hoped it was. Think of all those yummy flavors from your favorite breakfast carb, but instead its the doorman to your favorite brunch cocktail. YES!
Bottomless mimosas are always* a good idea. (We put an asterisk for that one friend we all have who ends up having eight and falling asleep at the table.) Mimosas are actually filled the brim with Vitamin D! So drink up! We got a extra fancy and got a white cranberry mimosa with a sweet sugary rim. Pinky up!
OK it’s time to dig in. We are starting off with the star of the show; the pancakes. We piled up a bunch of Laura’s signature cinnamon bun pancakes, heavily doused them in maple syrup and lathered them with warm butter. Think cinnabon meets your grandma's ol fashioned flapjacks.
That good! Perfectly fluffy and thick! Swirls of sugary cinnamon are topped off with a sweet icing. So whether you keep em stacked and cut slices like your eating cake, or you eat em one at a time (that’s how I do, make em last longer), these pancakes will definitely make your morning leveled up.
For something savory, the lobster eggs Benedict comes *highly* recommended. First of all, eggs benedict is my number one savory brunch item. Carbs, layered with meat, guaranteed runny egg, and then topped with thick, buttery hollandaise sauce. Cut a slice, and liquid gold spills out, coating everything on the plate in magical flavor. OK enough of me fangirling over eggs benny. Although they typically come with ham, the beauty of the benny is that you are a god damn adult and can do what you want! No ham sub lobster, the finest, most delicate creature of the sea? Oh OK! Yes, that’s right, tender, sweet lobster meat graces the eggs benny at Laura’s. Treat yourself to something nice this weekend!
We all love a classic breakfast; scrambled eggs with homefries, bacon and sausage. Don’t forget my side of ketchup! Think about getting a bite with each of those piled onto your fork, mmm. Now, imagine that whole bite, but on top of pizza.
Now that I have your attention, Laura’s breakfast pizza was made with the dreams of brunch goers, still sleeping soundly in their beds. And when you wake, your dreams are real, and you can have pizza for breakfast. (not the cold pizza you left in the box, on the floor after getting home at 3 am last night) Sprinkled with melted cheese and a drizzle of ketchup. Your brunch fairy god mother has blessed you this morning!
The classic breakfast sandwich is such a perfect go-to for first thing in the morning. Breakast + cheese + and carbs. Ok, done! At Laura’s breakfast sandwiches are a little cuter than your normal. The breakfast sliders were cheesy little sandys with runny egg, sausage and a lil brioche bun (you know how we love buns!) Served with a side of crispy homefries, these sliders are going to change how you eat your breakfast sandwiches!
Every good breakfast has a great sidepiece. Homefries, toast, and fruit cups, whatever your mood is telling you at that very moment. One of my all time favorite side is corned beef hash: a mash up of seasoned beef and finely diced potatoes, all salty and crispy. This is a side that can really finish a meal, and it is a signature side at Laura’s. The recipe coming from years of popularity at the diner, you can now have it for brunch with your bloody mary. Thanks, Laura!
As someone who finds herself scooting into a booth for dinner rather than my own dining room table, this is something I have picked up on. It *can be* easy to make things taste really good; take a carb and make it buttery, and salty and “Oh!” let’s add eight different types of cheese on top and make it melty. YEAH! Sounds SUPER good! But what is really, truly admirable, is when a Chef is able to take something healthy, and make it taste real good. Ever notice that healthy things don’t naturally taste awesome!? When was the last time your broccoli tasted like pizza? Never! (if it did you’re a witch). It takes skill to transform a health-conscious dish into something appealing. And no, I don’t mean taking a salad and smothering it in bacon and bleu cheese. I mean taking wholesome ingredients, and knowing how to finesse them to maintain their health conscious purpose, while serving as an appealing and tasty dish. But at the end of the day, get you a chef who can do both! Chef Angie Armenise at Blackie’s Bulldog Tavern in Smithfield is a savage beast when it comes to making a balanced menu. And that’s what life is all about, right? Monday through Friday we’re all “meal prep and bottled water” and Saturday hits we go bizerk with bottomless bloodys and 10 lbs of donuts. That’s the way life is, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Luckily, at Blackie’s, you can do both.
Let’s start with the weekends most important meal of the day: BRUNCH. God, brunch is magical. Not only is it the love child of two meals, it’s a social scene, it’s the prize at the end of a long work week, it’s the breath of life after a late Saturday night. Of course all brunch menus rattle off the same eggs, waffles and sandwiches. But baby I want something more. I want to taste the unusual. Blackie’s took a step in the direction of the wild side and got weird. And that is precisely what I am looking for.
OK let’s talk about the Smokey Pig. This breakfast style pig-in-a-blanket will make you wonder what other of your favorite foods can be magically transformed into a breakfast item. The limit does not exist (well, in Chef Angie’s world). Fresh English muffin dough is the soft, pillowy blanket that swaddles a house smoked maple breakfast sausage. First of all, let’s all acknowledge the brilliant use of English muffin dough here, this aint no basic puff pastry. The English muffin dough was ever so slightly crisped along the edging, while maintaining a beautiful doughy texture inside. On the side, is a welcoming brown sugar maple mayo dipping sauce, just begging for that piggy to dive in head first.
Next on the breakfast agenda was a sweet. I have really been taken by pancakes this year. And these fluffy cakes at Blackie’s really woo’d me. Made from scratch batter is folded with whipped egg whites, giving it that silky soft, cloud like composure. We had our’s topped with thinly sliced bananas and of course warm maple syrup.
Of course breakfast has it’s traditional items, but in all honesty, they can get dull. We have all seen eggs and home fries, but how about eggs and home made fried rice? (if you read that and had a “duh, why havent we been doing that all along” moment, you and I are in the same boat). You know when you cook rice and you scrape the bits that get stuck to the bottom of the pan? My favorite part, I call it the “cripsies”. This fried rice had that perfect toasted crunch, and literally fireworks of flavor. Tender shiitake mushrooms and tangy kim chi are adding pops of spicy bites. Aromatic veggies and chopped green onion join the party, but the real star here in the pork. Chunks of cold brew coffee rubbed pork are seared to a succulent crisp and tossed with the rice. Sitting atop of this heaping, glorious monument is a Buffoni Farms poached egg.
I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it every single time I eat an egg, runny yolk should be nominated to be an eighth wonder of the world. That thick, salty golden river coats seemingly every grain of rice, and completes the dish to be a breakfast contender.
We might as well have graduated with a degree in sticky buns, so you can imagine our excitement when we saw this giant, sweet coil of dough. Freckles of sweet cinnamon sugar line the layers, while candied pecans proudly sit on top like crown jewels. A smearing of think caramel lays beside the bun, awaiting a tear and dip.
Moving in a “lunchier” direction, let’s chat about the Diner Burger. Ever had a classic patty melt from a casual corner diner and be blown away by its simple goodness? That is the nostalgic feel happening here with this burger. Except instead of the skimpy patty, Blackies hand forms a beef burger using Lafrieda Farms brisket and chuck (not yo average patty, eh?) topped with all of the good stuff; thin slices of red onion, lettuce, tomato, and 1000 island dressing.
All of this was stacked between two buttery, fluffy roles. I will make a bold statement and say the bun here is my favorite part of it. The airyness only adds to the flavor of the burger, rather than steal the show. All wrapped up tight like a bow in folded wax paper.
Of course, butts rule everything around us. So maybe we ordered the Big Booty Judy sandwich because of the name, but we were enamored by its savory flavah! Damn, Judy! Toastie slices of artisan bread are smeared with a sweet and sticky apple butter, and layered with crispy shaved and fried brussel sprouts and thinly sliced granny smith apples. Sweet and tart bold flavors are met with pancetta cracklings and lusciously laid with melty smoked guerre and a creamy American cheese. Oh, my, god Becky, look at her sandwich! Yeah Judy’s got a booty and the popping sandwich to show off!
Wintertime comfort food can be summed up in Chef Angie’s fettucini, as it’s beautiful richness is complimented by hearty slow cooked short rib for a seasonal dish cozier than a crackling fireplace on a snowy night. Braised beef in a bone broth cooked for 60 hours makes for commitment to ensuring tender and flavorful meat. Pulled and shredded atop of al dente fettuccine with sautéed Tuscan kale and shitake mushrooms for extra meaty bites. Tossed in a black garlic cream sauce and pecorino bread crumbs, this pasta dish isn’t for lady and the tramp slurping because you will definitely not want to share it with your date.
If everything you’ve read so far seems nacho’ average, you are correct my dear. So naturally, the nachos follow suit. Crunchy flour tortillas are the base for the pig-pile that is to come, so try to keep up. A slow simmered veggie chili loaded with hearty beans smothers these chippies, followed by sour cream, house whipped guac, pickled jalapenos and a tangy smoked salsa verde for some extra heat. All of this is tucked in with a heavy winter blanket of sharp white cheddar cheese sauce. Yes!!!! Sharp cheddar, a game changer for that notable taste. Go ahead and use one of the chips like a snow shovel and scoop up as much goodness as you can in one bite.
Let’s dedicate this section to our vegan friends. We feel for you when you go out to eat with your friends, and everyone is mowing on burgers and wings, yet the only vegan option on the menu is the house salad. I am having flashbacks of being the kid left out at the lunch table, and no one should feel that way! Chef Angie is dedicated to providing guests with ample options no matter the dietary restriction. Her Clean Living section is your playground. We tried the vegan ramen and found heaven.
On a chilly winter day it was literally the perfect dish to warm you from the inside out. Shredded wok fried cabbage and shitake mushrooms simmer with roasted butternut squash and chickpeas. These ingredients alone are packed with super powers to help make this dish extra hearty. Traditional ramen noodles rest in the boldy flavored vegetable broth, and finally topped with pickled red onion, toasted sesame seeds, and avocado. Finally, a win for our vegan and vegetarian friends. Don’t go anywhere, health lovers, we’ve got more wholesome options below.
OK let’s talk about pizza real quick. Carbs covered in sauce and cheese make it the Madonna of cheat meals, a world wide favorite, voted “most likely to break your diet”. I desperately search for the illusive “healthy pizza”; but how do you ever make handfuls of melted cheese good for you? How does salty carb-a-licious crust ever constitute as acceptable by your trainer? Well I am here to tell you that Chef Angie used her magic powers to create a guilt free Keto pizza. A flourless crust is made from egg and finely ground almond flour, which toasts up nicely and created a crunchy crust. House made tomato sauce and fresh whole mozzarella and cured pepperoni on top. Slice away, folks!
Keeping on the healthy train, we dug into the Paleo short rib and veggie fried rice. Paleo basically let’s you eat anything that our hairy caveman ancestors may have eaten! AKA, whole foods that aren’t processed with all the unnecessary junk! Cauliflower “rice is cooked with more of the 60 hour bone broth and coconut aminos for an extra boost of good-for-you stuff. Slow cooked braised short rib and a vegetable medley, topped with slices of coveted ripe avocado, toasted sesame seeds and a sliver of bright lime. Damn, our caveman ancestors were eating good!
OK enough of all the healthy stuff, pour some sugar on me! No seriously, I am addicted to sugar. No matter how full I am, I must end each meal with a sweet. If you’ve learned anything from the dishes i’ve described above, you know that Chef Angie takes something basic and gives it a makeover to a Beyonce status.
For the big reveal, a carrot cake ice cream sandwich. Yall ready for this? Two slices of house made carrot cake hold hands with vanilla ice cream, smears of cinnamon cream cheese frosting and a carrot “cream”. Towering on top is a whole lot of vanilla bean whipped cream, and thin slices of candied carrots. This savage beast of a dessert sets a whole new standard for ice cream sandwiches.
When I got in my car after leaving this meal, I had to unbutton my pants and rub my belly. It is crazy because that alarm in your brain that blaringly tells your stomach that you're full was completely drowned out by the “oooh’s and mmmm’s” I was making. With so much food, I literally couldn’t control myself from going back for more. There wasn’t a single thing that I wouldnt rate a 10.
Thank you to Chef Angie and Jeanine, Nicole and Molly. Yall put on a culinary show that I want front row seats to. Seriously, a round of applause doesn’t cut it. Standing ovation is more like it!
We love burgers. Why? Because they’re served between two plump, doughy buns! And we love buns of all shapes and sizes, so sliders are just little burgers with mini buns! They go hand-in-hand with our whole mission. Little buns matter, too! At JR’s in the Jewelry District in downtown Providence, little buns are poppin. Slingin’ sliders day and night, on buttered buns, just the way we like em.
Since buns are kind of our area of expertise, it is only right that when we walked into JR’s, we were greeted by a mountain of lil slider buns. Literally, a heaping mass of sliders of all kinds! It is a good thing we had friends come along, because this amount of sandwiches in front of one person would appear to be a burger eating contest! Hey, I am up for a good challenge!
Let's start right out of the gate with my favorite of the beef slider selections; The Maui JR. Two grilled sirloin patties topped with fresh, juicy pineapple, mozzarella cheese, crispy bacon, and a smattering of BBQ sauce. Honestly, I am a huge advocate for pineapple on pizza, and an even bigger proponent for pineapple on a burger. Pineapple for president! Too far? Ok, well..pineapple on everything! In all seriousness, these sliders were so juicy, and between the pineapple and BBQ sauce, they were succulent lil babies.
Next in the pile of beef buns was the Three Pepper Bacon JR; two beef patties topped with melted pepper jack (mmmm), jalapeno (ooooh), chipotle mayo (ahhhh), sliced onions and bacon. If you’re into heat, this one has your name on it. With a spicy bite in every bite, the tree pepper packs flames.
I know it’s not right to have more than one favorite, but with this many burgers in front of me, it is hard not to! The Alpine JR, two grilled sirloin burgers, grilled portobello mushrooms, sauteed onions, crisp bacon, melted swiss and mayo. Mushroom and Swiss might be one of the best-of-all-time burger combos. Some people don’t like mushrooms, and those people are wrong! Or, they just think they don’t like mushrooms, until they try the Alpine JR and their world changes! Try it, you’ll love it.
Another classic, the Southwestern JR had us glad that these lil things come in pairs! The two sirloin burgers are topped with melty pepperjack, crisp bacon, tomato, fried onion petals, and southwestern saucy for a little kick! Cheesy, tangy, and crunchy, these little burgers have big flavor. With crispy little onion petals for extra pops of yum.
If you think that sliders are just burgers, think again. The pulled pork slider is a homerun, and one of my favorites. Honestly, pulled pork reminds me of a high class sloppy joe. It’s usually a little messy, and you will definitely want a napkin or two to wipe the BBQ off of your face, but worth every sticky bite you take. The chipotle BBQ pulled pork JRs are piled with slow cooked pulled pork, tossed in a sweet and tangy BBQ, and then piled onto buttery brioche buns.
Moving on to sliders of the chicken variety, we hit up the crispy chicken for an all American favorite. Tender fried chicken, melted American cheese, and mayo. What a classic combo! No need for fancy sauces or spreads. The simple chicken/cheese/mayo trio can’t go wrong.
Finally, the grilled chicken avocado slider. Yes, I am absolutely one of those people who thinks that avocado enhances anything that it touches. So in this case, the grilled chicken breast, melted swiss, crunchy bacon, tomato and lemon pepper sauce gets a gold medal. This one is the most different from the others, and certainly flavorful and juicy. And lemon pepper sauce ties it all together like a bow on a Christmas present.
Did you know that it’s a sin to eat a burger without a side of fries? Ya, it says so in the book of buns in the bible. So we went all out with the fancy fries; thin crinkle cut fries, Kraft cheese wiz, crunchy bacon and chopped sirloin steak. Meaty! Cheesy! Savory! Cheesy fries are in the running to be the eighth wonders of the world, right up there with the great pyramids.
Speaking of cheese fries, we also loaded up with curly fries doused in that velvety yellow cheese sauce. And if you want to take your cheese fries up another level (but only follow this next step if you’re really committed), squeeze a little (or a lot) of JR’s sauce. A tangy, creamy kick to your fries, burgers, or really anything on the menu. And if you like it like I think you’re going to, keep in mind that they keep it out on the tables within arms reach at all times.
Ok so you’ve filled your belly up with all different kinds of sliders. Beef, chicken, pulled pork, and all the fries. But if you think we are done, you are sadly mistaken. Because not only is JRs known for their sliders, they’re sought after for their famous fried Oreos. The creme filled chocolate sandwich cookies are something that we love as children, and really never get over. I guess you could consider them our first love. We have all dipped Oreos in milk, and cursed ourselves when we leave them dunked for too long and have to fish half of the bottom of the glass. That was child’s play. As adults, we go to JRs where they wrap them in dough and deep fry them. Steaming, doughy, crispy goodness wrapped around an Oreo.
If you learned anything from the amount of sliders we consumed, you should not be surprised to hear that we didn’t stop at one single dessert. We stuck a fork into a slice of the fried cheesecake. YES you read that right! A classic slice of creamy cheesecake, breaded, deep fried, and then served with sweet sides of chocolate, caramel, or houses made strawberry sauce. Man, if you ever felt like indulging in anything before, this is it.
We would like to thank our friends over at JR Providence for testing our limits on the amount of sliders we could consume in one sitting. And to make this tasty spot even better, they're open till 4am! So whether you're studying or partying, you have a definite late night spot to kill your hunger pains. Delivery until 3:30am, if you are in your PJs and dont want to leave the house! Extra points! Woo-hoo!
Talia Piri Photography
Jami Zoglio Mind Your Manicure
Smithfield, Rhode Island; rolling rural lands, fall colors on the trees, spicy tangy buffalo wings. Wait, what? Yeah, I said it. One of Smithfield’s main attractions could be the infamous chicken wings from Rocco’s Pub & Grub. Located conveniently on Douglas Pike, Rocco’s serves not only the people of Smithfield, but customers from across the state (and beyond!) their heart warming, comfort dishes.
Where do I begin? How about their infamous chicken wings? When it comes to wings, it is all about the texture for me, and Rocco’s nails it. An even crisp on the skin, and juicy tender meat inside. It is easy to dry out the meat when working to get the outside nice and crispy, but Chef Alessia knows how to do it right. First baked, and then fried to order, wings come tossed in a selection of 50 sauces. Yes, 50! As in, each state in the USA could pick a flavor and have a wing party! Hey, not a bad idea. With that many flavors, I hope you are a great decision maker. I however, am not. But lucky for me, I had the wing professionals at Rocco’s help me select some of their favorite flavors which I am now sharing with you!
We love trying funky wing sauce combos, and if you do too, you’ll love these! The Bobby Masello is a combination of Thai chili sauce mixed with “Rocco’s juice”, but shh, its a secret recipe! The Dragons Blood, a spicy/sweet mix of buffalo, barbecue, and teriyaki was the perfect balance of heat and sweet. The Dusty Baker whisks up Rocco’s Juice and Buffalo for some hott tang, along with Liquid Gold, a mix of honey mustard, bbq sauce and buffalo. Chef Alessia gave her recommendation with the Pacific Rim, Thai chili and teriyaki, so if you love sweet sticky wings, there guys are for you! And finally my favorite, the Bacon Buffalo! Packing some nice heat, just enough to make your mouth burn but tame enough to keep you come back, these wings are tossed in traditional buff sauce AND chopped bacon. Like, dang! With meat on top of meat, it is a home run! Now that you’re hungry and craving all of this saucyness, mark your calendar for every Thursday until further notice, because it’s wing night at Rocco’s! Yep, forty five cent wing every Thursday. You know where to find me!
Whenever I go out to eat, I always ask the server what their favorite things on the menu are. They are around the food all the time, probably get to eat it a lot, and lets them be honest! Well, I asked Chef Alessia what her favorite was, which is an even better perspective! She gets to cook the food and eat it, so I know she would give me something good. Her recommendation was the fried cheese. Go ahead and get the thought of boxed mozzarella sticks out of your mind. These triangular shaped crisp babies were sent from the fried foods heavens. It makes a significant difference when you’re using house made, hand formed mozzarella cheese, so it is fresh. Panko crusted and fried, they’re begging for a cheese pull. Whenever I go out to eat, I always ask the server what their favorite things on the menu are. They are around the food all the time, probably get to eat it a lot, and lets them be honest! Well, I asked Chef Alessia what her favorite was, which is an even better perspective! She gets to cook the food and eat it, so I know she would give me something good. Her recommendation was the fried cheese. Go ahead and get the thought of boxed mozzarella sticks out of your mind. These triangular shaped crisp babies were sent from the fried foods heavens. It makes a significant difference when you’re using house made, hand formed mozzarella cheese, so it is fresh. Panko crusted and fried, they’re begging for a cheese pull.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it is only right to run a holiday special. Rocco’s plumped up an egg roll with fresh shredded turkey, stuffing, and gravy, fried it, dusted it with cinnamon sugar, and served it with a smear of honey mustard cranberry sauce. I am going to be transparent here; if I had to pick ONE thing to be my favorite of this over the top meal, this would be it. This Thanksgiving eggroll really did it for me. The inner workings were savory and tender, while the outside added a hint of sweet. Finish it off with a dip of tangy from the sauce, and kiss me goodnight! My goodness, I could skip the whole dinner, and just eat this Thanksgiving egg roll.
To our surprise, Rocco’s let us not only build our own burger, but they added it to their menu! That’s right, the Buns and Bites Burger is on the menu at Rocco’s, and we are so excited yall! I bet you’re wondering what we made, huh? Well, we started with Rocco’s eight ounce hand formed patty, melted cheddar cheese, carmelized onions, ground chorizo, chipotle aoli, and of course, topped off with a fried egg. All piled up between two buttery buns. Being Portuguese, I just couldn’t say no to chorizo and a fried egg, they seem to enhance anything they’re added to! And in this case, the burger leveled up. The carmelized onions added almost a buttery component, and the chorizo was juicy and so savory. All of those brought together with the smokey tang of the chipotle aoli. In case you were wondering, this is my dream burger.
So we have covered burgers, wings, and fried cheese. What are we missing? Oh, yes! Pizza! The most important carb of all. Rocco’s does flatbreads in a fun, creative way. We went the the corn pizza. Yes, I said corn! This was my first time having corn as a pizza topping, and I am not mad at it! As a matter of fact, it totally added a pop of sweet here and there! They start off with a garlic rubbed flatbread. Just imagine a pizza crust getting a massage but instead of essential oils, its creamy delicious garlic. And if you thought plain ol’ regular cheese was going on this pizza, think again. Corn is steeped in the creamy cheese sauce for that hearty flavor, and then topped with a sprinkling of corn kernels, caramelized onions, a dash of crushed red pepper and finally finished with a drizzle of honey. Wow-wee! This pizza is a creamy, cheese, sweet and savory creation.
As if this wasn’t enough food, Chef Alessia surprised me with dessert. It is almost like she knew I had a major sweet tooth! In all honesty, my favorite dessert in the world is anything that is warmed up and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. So you can imagine my delight when I laid eyes on sundae served in a massive goblet overflowing with warm, house made cookies and fudgy brownies, chilly scoops of vanilla gelato and a heaping tower of fresh whipped cream. Not the stuff that comes out of the canister, no never that. This is house made by Chef herself. Of, did I forget to mention the hot fudge? Ya, that’s in the mix too. I always so that no matter how full I am (and trust me, after wings, pizza and burgers, I was stuffed) I always have a little room for something sweet.
At this point, it goes without saying that we left Rocco's with more than full bellies. Every dish evoked eye rolling "mmm's" and "uhhhhs"! It is easy to be really good at one thing, but to master a variety of dishes across the board means you've got talent! And that, is certainly what I am looking for when I go out to eat!
A special thanks to Rocco, Chef Alessia, Bryan, and the rest of the Rocco's staff. Yall are such great people, so welcoming, and so so good at serving bomb food! We cant wait to come back and visit for wing night soon!
As Rhode Islanders, anything outside of a 15 minute car ride is considered a day trip. But as a state nationally recognized for it’s expansive dining scene, we need to do better about going out of our way to enjoy these gems that RI has to offer. One of these diamonds we came across may require some of you to travel over a bridge (oh my gosh!). For those of you on that side of the bay, well, you’ve lucked out. Carmella’s Pizzeria in Middletown is best for dinner with the family, before (or after going out), staying in for Netflix & Pizza (the new Netflix & Chill), or just about any occasion. Whether you live down the street or in a different zip code, we want you to add it to your list. You know, the list we’re talking about. the one your significant other made you start so you could stop arguing about where to eat dinner. See! We just saved you from a hangry argument. You’re welcome!
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite carb, pizza. This is my opinion on pizza; all pizza is at the very least “good” because cheese and carbs together can not possible be “bad”. However, if you’re anything like me, you do not care to waste meals on anything that’s not above par. So when it comes to pizza we seek out the best of the best. The creme de la creme. The Madonna of meals. If you take a bite of pizza and it doesn’t immediately evoke the need to touch your four fingers to your thumb and kiss it, maybe yell out a “bellisimo!”, then your pizza isn’t good enough!
We started with a classic margarita pie at Carmella’s and yes, that happened. What makes it so great? The quality of the ingredients Chef Ken Martin uses. It makes a difference when your sauce isn’t coming straight from a can and onto your pizza. That’s right, house made tomato sauce, simmered and seasoned is ladled onto the hand kneaded dough, and then topped with Grande Cheese. I am not going to lie, I didn’t know what Grande cheese was before eating at Carmella’s, but now that I’ve experienced it I don't know that I can ever go back! I’ll save you the trip to Google. Grande is a high quality cheese company that prides itself on production of classic Italian cheeses and the imprint they leave on the environment. Lusciously silky mozzarellas, creamy ricottas and the like. The margarita came piping hot out of the oven, and then topped with fresh basil. It’s quality that counts, and Carmella’s is racking up their points.
Sometimes your friends want pizza, but you’re just in the mood for a hearty green salad. Salads at Carmella’s are treated with the same respect that is given to the godly pizza pies. We gushed over the shaved steak salad, mingling with soft crumbles of Gorgonzola cheese, salty little black olives, sweetly smoked pineapple pieces, shaved carrots, and roasted apples. Wowza, this salad had a lot working in it’s favor. Sweet and juicy with salty and savory all atop a bed of crisp greens. (Real salad! Not just iceberg ends. Never that at Carmella’s!) Always made fresh to order!To bring all of these ingredients together is Chef Ken’s house made balsamic dressing. Let me note that, this is not your average, run of the mill vinaigrette. This is a zesty, creamy, flavorful dressing only enhances whatever it’s added to. Just ask a regular! They’ll tell you to order sides of the dressing with pizza for crust dipping. If that’s not a pro tip, I dont know what is.
Onto sandwiches, we start right off with a classic Italian Grinder. Toasty, crispy bread holds melty cheese, slices salami, genoa, ham, and pepperoni tight in its warmth. Onion and pepperoncini get tucked in with all that meat along with shreds of crisp green lettuce. To complete, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil makes this beauty glisten like the legs of a super model applying tanning lotion. (I’d pick the sandwich, though!)
Our second sandwich was the chicken Caesar wrap, a classic classic. I never met a Caesar wrap (or Caesar anything for that matter) that I didn’t like. But when you find an exceptionally well done Caesar something, you hold it in your arms and promise that you will never let go. Here we have lettuce, tender grilled chicken, shaved provolone and parmesan, tomatoes and crispy chopped bacon. Of course, it is all tossed in a light coating of creamy Caesar dressing before being swaddled in a warm wrap and cut in half.
The next two appetizers we dug into need to come with an important precursor; Chef Ken does not have fryolators in house. So our teriyaki wings and cheesy fries were both baked to crispy perfection. We really respect the fact that these notoriously greasy foods are done “fry-free”, without the extra fats and can be cooked so spot on. You would never know that these sweet, salty glazed teriyaki wings started in an oven! Whether you’re a drums person, or you favor flats, you’ll end up eating the whole basket without preference!
Cheese fries are a comfort food I can get down with. What comes to mind when I think comfort? Sinking into a plush couch, wrapped up to my nose in fuzzy blankets all warm and toasty. That is the embodiment of cheesy fries. Warm, soft and cheesy. The golden french fries are lathered with oozing shredded cheese that melts in between each and every one. As the cool weather sets in, I can’t think of a better, warm snack to pick on. And when you pick a particularly melty fry, watch in awe as the cheese pulls in all of it’s glory
If you’re thinking we couldn’t possibly have anymore carbs, think again! We wrap up this hearty meal with penne pasta (my personal favorite) laden with house made marinara and *here’s the best part* hand rolled meatballs! Three massive meatballs proudly sit atop this mound of pasta like flags waving on the peak of Mt. Everest! It’s no shocker that homemade is the way to go. Bet you never saw your grandma use canned tomato sauce and frozen meat for Sunday dinner. What better way to get a taste of home than pasta and meatballs?
Pizza, pasta, fries, wings, and sandwiches. Can you think of anything else you would add to this list? I literally can not. As a matter of fact, my stomach has reached max capacity. What I love most about Carmella’s is that Chef Ken is able to take our favorite classics and enhance them with high quality ingredients and careful preparation. Ken’s cooking began at a young age, and eventually he became classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City, an internationally recognized institution. He brings these skills to Middletown, Rhode Island for us to enjoy in the Ocean State. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
The phrase “Oh Boy!” is one that is spoken out of nothing but excitement. The saying may be strung along and repeated, “Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!” and always concludes with an exclamation point. I can hear it shouted by a child finding out his parents are taking him on a trip to Disneyland. Well, when you’re a foodie, a delightful dinner is just as exciting as the magical theme park itself, and also provokes the joyful saying of “Oh Boy!” Brand new to Providence’s dining scene, with a very fitting name, O’Boy is serving Asian fusion cuisine in an artistic and tasteful form, with a variety of options for vegetarians, meat loves and seafood aficionados alike.
Fitting right into it’s foodie neighborhood on Westminster, the space is comfortable yet classic. A place for a casual lunch or an intimate cocktail following a long work day. Unwind and refuel in an urban meets rustic interior.
Of course, there are a million ways to cook a piece of meat. We can grill, fry, bake, broil, saute, steam.. I could keep going. All of these approaches have their positive attributes, as well as pitfalls. A new way of cooking allows the chef preparing the food to monitor the temperature and time so precisely, they are able to control the output to be exactly their desired result. The method is called Sous Vide, (pronounce is Sue Vee) and is put to action in the kitchen at O’Boy. Food is placed in small bags and then submerged into a boiling water bath, where the temperature is closely controlled. This creates the opportunity for the perfect temperature on meat, and the ideal consistency throughout a dish. If it is something that intrigues you, O’Boy is a place to try.
Our first dishes were vegetarian delights. Starting with the carrots, beautifully slow roasted to have snap but still be smoothly soft. Drizzled with a spicy/cool wasabi crema and dotted with sweet corn, this dish makes orange look good on you. Next we moved on to roasted brussel sprouts. These little tiny heads of cabbage (or so I call them) need to be cooked just right in order for their full taste potential to show, and they did not fail here. The outer edges and leaves with a slightly blackened crispy, just enough to make them curl, while the center remaining soft enough to cut through. Tosses with an aromatic goat cheese, leafy bitter kale and a splash of a sweet soy reduction to counter.
Not so vegetarian friendly, the beef tartar was superbly done and really had me questioning when the last time I had uncooked beef that well done. A rice puff patty serves as the portal which carries the tastefully picked ingredients; finely diced mango and pear make for a summery, lush, brightness to accompany the coarse grained mustard and the sesame oil. Served with a side of soy marinated egg yolk, this beef tartare is as attractive as it is tasty. Personally, I cut into it like a slice of pizza, broke the egg yolk and drizzled it on each slice. Truly the highlight of the evening, this dish took the top of the podium as my favorite bite of the night.
Continuing with the meat trend, we next sunk our knives into the pork belly. If you have ever tried pork belly, you know that the texture is what makes this cut of meat so desirable. A succulent layer of sweet, fatty meat seared to a crisp on the outer edge. My knife sunk into this tender pork and stole my heart. Prepared with nutty black eyed peas, spicy seared brussel sprouts, and beautiful curling pea tendrils.
Where I really witnessed the beauty of Sous Vide is with the O'Steak. A beautiful cut of beef, cooked to an absolute mid rare perfection. Happily exuding its natural juices when tenderly sinking your knife in, the steak is seasoned and flavorful. The plating of this dish was impressively creative; fingerling potato in confit, grapes infused with watermelon for a sweet and tart pop, shaved carrot and pickled pearl onions. The flavors came together harmoniously in a way that anyone eating a steak would hope for. Conflicting tastes like pickled onions and sweet watermelon grapes add layers of tastes and textures.
For lovers of the sea, we have a plate special for you. The braised octopus leg was good enough to call King Triton and thank him for this tasty ocean creature. Octopus has a very specific texture; slightly chewy with a snap, but crispy and tender when prepared properly. In this case, the eight legged water dweller was cooked on point. Served with roasted baby potatoes, tart pickled vegetables, and a savory miso glaze. Good enough to lick the plate.
After seeing how impressive and extensive the dinner menu was, we were not surprised to find an exquisite cocktail list. The mix of cordials gave liquor lovers a wide selection of hand crafted cocktails hosting their favorite booze of choice, creatively shaken up. Our favorite was the lychee mimosa! So lightly sweet and fizzy to make your nose tingle and your mouth savor. Smooth enough for brunch or dinner.
Every dish coming out of the kitchen here at O’Boy impressed us even more than the last. We really appreciated the artistic thought that went into plating and presentation, as well as the purposeful pairings of flavors. We are really excited to com back and try their brunch menu, because if it is anything like dinner, we may never leave.
On a cool rainy day, there’s not much better than cozying up with a knit blanket, a steaming cup of tea, and a good book. Except when you look down, the cup of tea has turned into a margarita, the blanket is a pulled pork sandwich, and the book is...still a book. Different comforts, but the same results. Punk & Poet in South Boston, might remind you of your prestigious but cool grandfather’s study; paper lined walls, tall bookshelves peppered with novels and poetry, plaid patterned seat backings. But the rebel, the renegade in you gravitates to the bar and orders a spicy sweet tequila concoction.
We are always on the market for comfort. The notion of being uncomfortable in a dining setting brings about thoughts of stuffy, white glove service and minuscule greens daintily placed on a silver platter. On the other hand, comfort in a dining setting brings thoughts of curling up on a bar stool with a paperback novel, a warm and hearty, oversized meal with a cocktail in hand who’s ice might keep your hand cool but who’s contents fire up your insides. The Punk & Poet gives you feels that the righteous-badass-rocker in you sometimes needs a place to let loose, and maybe recite a few lines of beautifully worded poetry to his or her righteous-badass-rocker boyfriend or girlfriend.
OK as we were saying, P&P aims to bring comfort to guests; with a sweetly spiked cocktail, a buttery burger, or a leather bound book, comfort will be served. And we started with, a dish that can fall into no other category other than comfort food, Macaroni and Cheese. We have all had our fair share of mac. We’ve had mom’s mac at home, EZ Mac in college (never again) and everything in between.
But go ahead and add this mac, right up top on your Mac travels list. Traditional macaroni in a deliciously buttery, ooey-gooey melty four cheese sauce (yes, four!). And we all know that the best kind of mac has a little crumble on top. However, Punk & Poet uses flakey/crunchy potato chips for the crumblecust on top. The perfect velvety smooth cheese, with just the right amount of buttery crunch.
Our next comfort came in between two buns (hehe, we love that every time). Two sesame seeded brioche buns do their best to hold together the massive pile of slow braised, juicy and succulent BBQ pulled pork. Those are some strong buns, because we all know how weighted pulled pork can get, and nothing's worse than soggy buns (these buns? They held up). To add fuel to the fire, crispy fried onion strings and cuts of hugely thick bacon rest in there with all the good stuff. Hand cut and seasoned fries on the side make for a complete comfort meal.
Finish it all off with a sweet and a spicy cocktail, alongside a leather bound book and you’ve got yourself an ideal comfortable situation. So let your inner punk out for some yummy food, and let your inner poet recite some E. E. Cummings.
Thank you to the Punk & Poet for so graciously hosting and feeding our Buns. We can’t come back to Boston without swinging through again. You will see our buns again soon!
As kids, the extensive convincing Mom and Dad would go through to get us to eat our veggies included but were not limited to; mild threats of sleeping at the dinner table, nearly on the knees begging, bribery with the sorts of candy and other sweet confections, or heavier threats of going to bed without dinner whatsoever, the likes of Max from Where The Wild Things Are. Well mom n’ pop, the day has come, the tables have turned. No longer are turning a nose up at a brussel sprout, but actually seeing it listed as an ingredient and being the decision maker. Those years of veggie tirades seem so obscure with our head-over-heels love for the fully vegetarian menu at The Garden Grille, located at the tail end of Blackstone Blvd in Pawtucket.
Garden Grille is easily one of my utmost favorite restaurants in the state, for the simple fact that the food that is placed before you is consistently delicious. Whether you are a creature of habit and order the butternut squash quesadilla every. Single. Time. without a glance at the menu (guilty), or if you dabble in the specials menu. You can guarantee a delectable dish. I am confident that I could close my eyes and point, and I would be thrilled with the outcome.
We started out with an appetizer that everyone can love; Korean Tacos. Two soft flour tortillas hug a slice of nutty tempeh marinated in a sweet chili glaze, shrouded by a colorful purple cabbage, creamy avocado, and a tangy chipotle aioli. These tacos can do no wrong in my eyes. They are flavorful, bright, and the best addition to your taco Tuesday rotation.
Salads are a summer time favorite, but a word of advice, never settle for a basic salad. Cukes and tomatoes are all well and good, but when you have fresh, in-season fruits and veggies to decorate your bowl of green, there is no room for entry level veggies. The Reggies Raw Heaven is an absolute go-to, so much that if I ever meet Reggie, I’d have to shake his hand. The curt bitterness of leafy arugula is cut with a sweet pomegranate dressing, and piled with beet infused jicama, tart grapefruit segments, lush and sweet mango slices, buttery avocado and crushed cashews for a nutty crunch. Like I said, no basic salads allowed. If you can fit all of that onto one forkfull, you will be in juicy green paradise.
For the grand finale, a true Mount Rushmore of dishes. Except instead of the portraits of American Presidents, the massive mound of tortilla chips is proudly adorned with the grand classics of nachos; President cheddar jack, President guac, Vice President salsa, Secretary vegan sour cream, and General black beans. This heaping pile of oozy toppings of the ultimate comfort dish and honestly, my favorite nachos in town. While nachos are hard to mess up, when they are done well, it’s easy to recognize. This right here? Is a refined nacho.
Although I had mentioned, I feel the need to stress this point; Garden Grille is one of my all time favorite restaurants. It is the absolute go-to, the fall back, the treat yo self, the special night out, the casual take out at home, the “I want to show off to my out of town friends”. It is whatever you want or need it to be! The place has been around for decades and is recognized in the community as a staple.
I want to make one final point. When speaking about a vegetarian place, it is easy to get lost in making comparison to meat based dishes, saying things like ‘the Reuben tastes just like real meat!” (Don’t get me wrong, it totally does), or "get your meat lover friends to try it!". I think there is something to be said about creating a space where meat has no place at the table. So much, that meat is not worth mentioning. It is completely irrelevant and not needed to showcase how incredible the the meals are in it’s absence. That being said, Meat, you are not missed here.
Thank you to the Garden Grille, for always being there for us, and to the staff who is always warm and welcoming, even when you are over flowing with a bustling crowd of people knocking the door down for some damn good vegetarian cuisine. Love yall!
Photos: Emily Homonoff
Braceletes: Marianna Mae Designs - handmade in RI