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Archive for the ‘restaurants’ Category

Louis’s Crossing

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Chicken parm with salad

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Grotto Bar
Grotto Pizza, Rehoboth Beach DE


photo by Rachel

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Deli Bob's

Deli Bob’s
Thames Street
Newport, RI

Cheese pizza
Turkey Cuban sandwich
ham, turkey, Cuban dressing, chopped dill pickle 

 

I am pretty sure the cheese pizza was made to order, either that or they had to go hunt the turkey for my Turkey Cuban, because it sure took a while for our food at this slightly-off-the-main-path Newport deli to be ready. The counter staff (two teenaged or early twenty-something girls) even had to ask him if he’d gotten his food yet. While he was inside waiting for our orders, I was outside staking a table on the deli’s breezy front porch and watching the foot traffic. One thing I learned about Newporters is that they aren’t too terribly charitable. Every single person who went past seemed to be in a foul mood.

The food, once it came, was surprisingly to die for. My small Cuban was just enough protein and bread for a filling lunch before a walk on the cliffs, but not so filling that I felt weighted down. The cheese pizza was piping hot, thin-crusted, with a bubbly cheese mixture. The thin crust was not overcooked, so the thin edges didn’t burn but were still soft on the inside with a little bit of crunch on the crust. This is another indicator that makes me think the pizza was freshly cooked, it hadn’t had time to become overcooked.

If you’re in Newport and need a small, inexpensive place to eat with a good selection of sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and ice cream, Deli Bob’s is not a bad place to drop in; just watch out for the locals.

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TGIFriday's 4

TGIFriday’s
Braintree, MA

Pick Three appetizer
boneless Buffalo wings, crispy green bean fries, and breaded mozzarella sticks
BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad
Chicken Parmesan Sliders
Two breaded chicken sliders on Ciabatta bread topped with Provolone cheese and marinara sauce. 
Jack Championship BBQ Chicken & Shrimp Combo
Classic Sirloin

We decided to do the Pick Three appetizer, because I wanted Crispy Green Bean Fries and this makes me a weirdo in my family. The men split the boneless Buffalo wings (a tiny bite I sampled was WAY TOO hot for me), while I kept to the CGBF and Mum kept to the mozzarella sticks, which were hot and gooey without being too hot or too gooey.

I didn’t get a crack at Jim’s shrimp, which apparently were wrapped in bacon and slathered with JD BBQ sauce. I’m not sure how I feel about shrimp wrapped in bacon, I sort of feel like that is the purview of the scallop. But the chicken, half of which came home as a leftover, was good, if it somehow gave off the impression that it was industrialized. Maybe it was the perfectly cross-hatched grill marks that gave it away. But the light coating of JD BBQ sauce was sweet, not too strong. And the cheese mashed potatoes were delightfully cheesy.

Mum’s Chicken Parm Sliders looked good, with a little bit of salad in a side dish. I might give a thought to ordering that next time. Chicken parm always sounds good to me, until I get to the restaurant and start reading the menu and I find something more tantalizing. I ordered the same BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad I ordered on an early trip to TGIFriday’s, in Stoughton, and it was just as good if lighter on the extras, like the now-famous jicama. It had just the right amount of dressing and BBQ sauce, which goes a long way toward making a good dinner salad. Too much is overpowers the flavors of the greens and the protein and makes a soggy salad, too little can’t bring the salad together in to a whole and the greens and protein are too dry.

Dad’s steak must have been good, as he did not remark over it and he didn’t bring any home as a leftover.

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Tim Horton's

Tim Horton’s
Augusta, ME

Canadian Maple donut
Coffee, hot
Coffee, iced

I feel that over two days, the team at Tim Horton’s never figured out what “and sugar” meant. “Medium hot coffee with cream and sugar,” I’d say. And the cup of coffee they gave me had cream, but seemed to contain no sugar. It was annoying, and I was able to live with it, but Jim couldn’t. He even asked for “extra cream, extra sugar” just like he does at the Dunkins here at home. He had to go sugar up his iced coffee in order to not offend his palate.

The donuts were small-ish, which I think was good, because they did pack taste and had they been larger, they might have been “too much.” Sometimes I just get in a headspace where I WANT MAPLE, so the Canadian Maple donut spoke to me behind the glass case and I had to give it a try. I was nibbling along Saturday morning when I got halfway through and realized that not only does it have a buttery European-pastry texture, it has yellow custard in the middle like a traditional Boston Creme donut. Maple frosting plus buttery texture plus custard interior is like nothing could be better on this earth.

Tim Horton’s lost points on the coffee but gets big points for a surprising donut with great texture and flavor. So nice I had the same breakfast two days in a row.

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East Side Pocket

East Side Pocket
Thayer Street
Providence, RI

Two #7 gyro pockets
Strips of Greek style season lamb, one with all the toppings, hot sauce, hummus, lettuce, tomato, hot peppers, onions, pickles, tabouleh, tahina, yogurt cucumber sauce, except the tomatoes, and one with just lettuce, onions, and yogurt cucumber sauce.
Baklava

For years Jim has been trying to talk me in to gyros at East Side Pocket on Thayer Street. Every time we’re in Providence, usually for dinner and WaterFire, gyros come up as a top three contender. Having never been a fan of gyros, which in my experience are always drippy and messy eats, I have usually put up resistance, but this time our planned outing to Spike’s was kiboshed by their relocation from Thayer Street to the opposite side of town, so I gave in to gyros.

First: Not at all messy, especially if you get all the toppings like Jim does; the thin yogurt cucumber sauce gets soaked up by the hummus, tabouleh, and tahina. Whereas I had only lettuce and onions on mine, so the sauce was a little messier. But still not as messy as I’d expected.

Second: I was so disappointed by the lamb. Jim tells me that back in his college days they did the lamb the old-fashioned way, shaved to-order off a leg on the rotisserie. This lamb seemed to be ground and shaped in to long, thin patties, then done up on the grill. I am sure that doing it this way is less expensive for the restaurant, easier to control the portions, and easier to maintain the flow of stock, as well as not as hot as the open rotisserie in the cramped space in the summer, but I feel like whatever they made up in savings and air conditioning, they lost in flavor. If I hadn’t known it was lamb, I couldn’t have told you it was lamb and not beef. The seasonings were way too heavy-handed, obscuring the unique natural flavor of the meat. I fell in love with lamb in Greece, where it was always done up simply, with simple spices and sea salt to bring out the natural flavor of the meat. Jim hadn’t had a gyros in long enough that he hadn’t thought about it. I pointed out that it is good, inexpensive, plentiful college food for the students on the Hill, but I wouldn’t call it Greek, I’d call it Americanized Greek; just like how most of the Chinese food we eat in this nation is Americanized Chinese, adapted to the palate of the host country.

Jim demolished his pocket, but I could only get halfway through mine before I couldn’t get down another bite. He said it was okay if I didn’t finish mine, since they are well-sized, but I had to explain that whereas I was starving before dinner, if I had gotten up and walked away from the table at that point, I would have been merely not very hungry, with no feeling of having eaten (just of being less hungry). So while I hadn’t been planning on any dessert, I gave up on my pocket and went back inside for two pieces of baklava, the quality of which more than made up for the pocket. Soft, sticky, great texture in the filling. Jim has been saying for years, I don’t like baklava, I don’t like baklava, which is always a disappoint to me, since I love baklava. Then he looks at my two little pieces of baklava and says, What’s that? Baklava, I say. Oh, he says, if this is baklava, what is the stuff wrapped in leaves? Dolmas, or dolmades. All this time when someone says “baklava,” he pictures dolmades. No wonder he keeps telling me he doesn’t like “baklava”! As it turns out, he did like East Side Pocket’s baklava, and it filled the hole I still had in my stomach after the disappointing pocket.

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TGIFriday's 3

TGIFriday’s
Braintree, MA

Green Bean Fries
California Turkey Burger
with sweet potato fries
Friday’s Cheeseburger
Wild Cherry Julep
bourbon, seltzer, mint leaves, and pomegranate juice over ice

 

A basic dinner after a full afternoon of craft shopping. Green bean fries are a must for us, and kept me, at least, from attacking something (or someone) in my advanced state of hunger.

Feeling particularly inimical toward Ben Franklin’s first choice for the national bird, Meghan ordered a turkey burger; not wanting to copycat but needing something weighty and meaty, I went with a basic cheeseburger. Meghan should have remembered to order hers without onions, but at least she remembered to substitute her regular fries for sweet potato fries, which I thought had a great texture and subtle-but-sweet flavor. Baked sweet potatoes are usually served with butter and cinnamon to play up the natural flavors, but sweet potato fries lack those two seasonings and therefore are well-suited to ketchup, surprisingly. The turkey burger is perhaps as excellent as the Abington Ale House turkey burger that I had back in May, so I’m excited to try it on our next trip (maybe).

Cheeseburger was well-cooked, had good texture, was cheesy but not too cheesy, and responded well to ketchup. My fries were not as good as Meghan’s sweet potato fries, so I am ranking TGIFriday’s fries in this order:

green bean fries
sweet potato fries
regular fries

If I could substitute green bean fries and their addicting cucumber wasabi Ranch dip for regular fries with a burger, it would be a meal made in heaven, but chances are they wouldn’t let me. Always, veggie-crisp on the inside with lightly-breaded crisp on the outside. Next, sweet potato fries, for their excellent texture and subtly different flavor. Lastly, regular ol’ fries, a comforting staple and more a vehicle for ketchup than strictly virtuous in their own right — which sometimes is just what I need, a vehicle for my condiment of choice. Sweet potato fries are more chosen for themselves in their own right, and don’t need ketchup or mayo or malt vinegar to give them character. Just like a baked sweet potato is heavenly in and of itself, but if you are looking for sour cream and chives, you’re better off with a classic Idaho or Maine spud. And red potatoes are best lightly dressed in as a side dish. Potato choice is all a product of the mood you’re in at the time.

The Wild Cherry Julep was an impulse, a photo of iced candy-pink happiness greeting us at the table. We both immediately gave in. A light dash of pomegranate really does have a cherry flavor, which threw me off. But it was refreshing and different, and next time I’ll go back to my usual Blue Moons.

We’re two points away from our first Give Me More Stripes reward. Should have ordered a second round of drinks!

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