Providence has spoiled us with an abundance of eateries to choose from, it almost feels like there is no need to leave the confines of our little city. However, every once in awhile, a hidden gem elsewhere gives us a reason to get in our cars and explore a different town (ventures are a big thing for rhode islanders!) But hey, for food this delectable, we would probs drive to Kansas.
Cook & Dagger sports a fine looking menu, with a selection of American fare dishes and comfort cuisine. We suggest that you read the descriptions out loud, so that you can really listen to yourself over exaggerate words like “manchego” and “bacon jam”. (Note the “ohh’s and ahh’s).
When the starters were brought out, I almost mistook them for mains. The heaving portions are going to ensure that you do not leave the building still hungry. Let’s start with the croquettes; manchego cheese and serrano ham (dry cured from Spain) rolled in breadcrumbs and lightly fried. These little honeys were served with a chipotle aioli and then topped with finely grated cheese. So let me break this down for you; fried cheese, topped with more cheese, and dipped in a smoky spicy sauce. These lil rounds reminded me of kinder eggs; break em open and you’re met with an enticing surprise. In this instance, it’s ooey-gooey melty cheese
For our next app, we had the the wings du jour, which were thai peanut. Sweet and tangy sauce topped with crushed peanuts and chopped scallions. Basically all of my favorite parts of pad thai, but in wing form. (keep in mind, this was the wing flavor of the day, so when you check it out, there might be another mouth watering flavor). When it comes to chicken wings, I’ve got a certain criteria they’ve got to meet in order for me to take them seriously. First and foremost, the texture has got to be done properly, and these wings had us thinking they wrote the rules. When you bite into a chicken wing, there should be layers of texture; tender meat at the center, crispy skin, swathed in a tangy sauce. So submit yourself to these winggys, commit to sticky fingers and a saucy face. Totally worth it.
Next we had an app that I had been eyeing as soon as I glanced over the menu; the octopus. While many people love calamari, not many are as readily excited to give octopus a try. So if you’re reading this and have never tried it before, this is where you need to go for your first experience.
It is absolutely imperative that octopus is properly cooked, for the sake of your meal (or else it will just be rubbery and chewy). As soon as I took the first swipe of my knife, I knew it was going to be perfect. The tentacles had a light char, giving a nice crispy edge to it while keeping the meat nice and tender. Plated with crispy fingerling potatoes, pickled onions and a chorizo aioli. You heard me. Chorizo. Aoli. Giving the octopus smooth creamy/smokey company on the plate.
*Side note: The portion size on this was impressive. I have had octopus many times, and always found the cuts to be average/small. This octopus must have been committed to leg day, because it was a nice and thick piece.
For our final app, I saved the best for last. My god. I actually don’t know if I have ever had poutine quite like this anywhere south of the canadian border. These crispy fries were just smothered in a rich gravy, melty cheese, cheese curd, and then finished with (more) grated cheese AND a fried egg (yes the yolk was runny, I know you were wondering). The flavors here were just unreal. Served in a large skillet pan, enough for you and a few friends. So roll up your sleeves, break that yolk open and get down to business.
For mains, we went with some hefty hand-held options. The first being their glorious fried chicken sammie, cooked to a delightful golden brown (think David Hasselhoff via Baywatch gold). With American cheese, pickles, lettuce, bacon (the thick, almost caramelized, crispy kind, you know what I’m talking about) and Alabama white sauce (we aren’t sure what’s in it, but whatever their doing in Alabama is OK with me), all held together by a Portuguese roll. You know the Portuguese know how to make a good bun, amiright?! This sandwich was a classic with a personal touch.
Four our final dish of the evening, we had the cheeseburger. Now what I love about burgers is that they’re so simple, yet can be modified to be eclectic fare. This savory beef burger was locally sourced from Blackbird farm, and topped with American AND cheddar cheese (yep, two types of cheese), that crispy bacon we mentioned, caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms. I mean, caramelized anything between two buns and I am sold, but the mushroom onion combo knocks the flavor out of the park. No need for some fancy shmancy burger, just one that has all the important parts done right (which is exactly what we have here folks).
We would like to thank Cook and Dagger for welcoming us in to dine with us, and for guiding us through the menu. Every detail from the warm and cozy lighting to the garnishes on each dish are purposeful and intended to enhance the experience. We have literally not stopped thinking about the poutine, so expect to see our buns again soon.