Monday, March 30, 2015

Atlantic Beach Club and Pavilion - Newport Rhode Island

"Johnny's" Atlantic Beach Club and Pavilion is located at 55 Purgatory Rd, Middletown RI 02842 right at the "neck" driving into Newport. This was a fitting end to a very nice trip to the Providence area to visit vendors for work. We drove down towards Newport Beach and took in the sights, then started looking for a good lunch spot. Yelp provided several that all seemed to packed to enjoy so we ended up at the Atlantic Beach Club and Pavilion by default due to the availability of parking. I'm glad we did as we both enjoyed the experience.

This place is huge and right off of the main drag coming across the inlet. It took just a few minutes to be seated outside where we aggregated with all the other tourists - yes this is a premium location with great views of the bay. It was still blindingly bright, even with the cirrus clouds hugging the sky's zenith.

There's a fairly extensive menu but luckily a single page lunch menu was available and I saw something that I wanted to try. We began with drinks - I started with a very nice Long Trail Brewing India Pale Ale - this is an unfiltered craft with a good bit of hops and citrus and a fairly clean finish. The beer itself has that unfiltered look that's more in line with homemade beers - if your place has the Limbo go with that as it's a bit better and more ABV (tried it elsewhere). The India Pale Ale worked well with lunch and the above-average warmth of the day. Sid decided to try a tawny port since ha hasn't had one previously - I think he liked it quite a bit!

For lunch I started with a very nice lobster bisque - it was certainly delicious. It was served with these Westminster Bakers Oyster Crackers which I pocketed for later.

Sid went with a salad which he said was very tasty and refreshing.

For the entree I decided to go with the fish-and-chips as they promised, and delivered cod. I thought the tarter sauce a bit heavy but it did have the promised lemon and saltiness of added capers. The slaw was very good and creamy.

Sid went with a side of macaroni and cheese, as there was a limited number of vegetarian options. I tasted and it was very good with a baked crust.

Service was good but not great - lot's of tables outside so it was a bit slow - also lots of intemperate and demanding tourists so I found nothing to fault. Our server was very knowledgeable in the food but knew squat about the beer (she did find someone to answered my questions). In all a very good lunch and good way to take in the day.

-- John

(shorter version posted to Yelp)

Johnny's Atlantic Beach Club on Urbanspoon

Gray's Ice Cream - Bristol Rhode Island

Grays Ice Cream is located at the end of the pier on 259 Thames St, Bristol RI 02809 next to Thames Bar and Grille. This is an extension of the original Gray's in Tiverton that's been around since 1923 and just as good, featuring waterfront views and fantastic treats.

We had lunch next door at the Thames Waterfront Bar and Grill and this seemed a natural way to finish off the lunch meal. It was fairly warm and the cool ice cream just fit the scenic view and made a complete finish to the recent lobster roll. This location is more shack-like with cedar siding and a huge painted medallion of an ice cream cone adorning the gable above a small ordering window. While Gray's doesn't have dedicated seating, there are many benches and rails where you can eat in peace while enjoying Bristol Bay.

The ice cream itself is quite the delight - it appears to be a high-milk content/fat variety that is very homemade in consistency and flavor, I sampled the pistachio (which I highly recommended) before going with the coconut which was delicious. My friend Sid went with the Cookie Dough which was also quite good. If you love ice cream as much as I do (and it's really the only dessert that I can't say "no" to) then you'll try Gray's. As with many small stands and shops, Gray's is a cash-only business.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)

Gray's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kabob and Curry - College Hill - Providence Rhode Island

Kabob and Curry is located at 261 Thayer St, Providence RI 02906 in College Hill, not to far from RISD. If you haven't been to College Hill it's quite a treat - much like other neighborhoods near colleges, there's several inexpensive restaurants, a big Starbucks, a classic movie theater (with lit marquee!) and of course, Kabob and Curry.

After a rather disappointing experience at Bombay Club I didn't have high hopes in finding decent Indian in Providence. Since I'm usually traveling with my friend and coworker, Siddharth, we usually sample what each city has to offer in Indian cuisine - Sid had previously lived and worked in Providence and recommended Bombay Club and we found out from that experience that the restaurant had definitely taken a turn for the worst. You would think that in the very popular Federal Hill area that an Indian restaurant would be supported, but apparently if it's not Italian that's a no-go.

While searching for a new dining experience we decided to go by the Rhode Island School of Design (or RISD for short) campus on this particular evening. Doing a quick Yelp search using the smart phone app (which I highly recommend) up popped Kabob and Curry. We had done the same the afternoon we flew in and sampled El Ranchito which was rather disappointing in contrast to the 4-star rating. I did not have high hopes for K&C.

The restaurant has a bit of an odd layout - you climb stairs into a foyer decorated in South-Eastern motifs and then walk through to an outside, covered deck. There's a fold-out sign with specials listed - interesting to see gluten free and Halal options. The smells were very good and there were more than on Indian and South Asian groups of people seated - most appeared to be students so I still reserved judgement. We were presented a menu.

 I spotted a Trinity IPA to find out they were out, they were also out of the Sierra Nevada,  Bass Ale and Tajmahal so I defaulted to a Kingfisher. So far I'm not too impressed. We were provided a basket of pappadum with some chutneys that were quite good - OK so my impression just improved.

Looking over the menu Sid and I both decided to go with the Thali Plates - these are a great way to sample many different items and get some extras thrown in. You get a samosa, papadum, two veg dishes, rice or naan and a curry (or two for the jumbo) of your choice. You also get keer for dessert!

Vegetarian Thali - Sid went with a sag paneer and a veg curry - he heartily approved of everything on the plate. We both had the same dal which was more of a soup and very tasty. Also, the samosas (they were both veggie) were quite good and a welcome change from some I've had recently.

Meat Thali - I went with a Chicken Vindaloo and a Lamb Curry, extra spicy on both. The vindaloo had an appropriate amount of spice and tartness and the lamb curry was tender and delicious.

We also added a garlic naan - it was good but appeared to use that chopped garlic you get in a jar. This is still much better than that powdered garlic crap I saw in Salt Lake. Their naan is top-notch (they must have a real tandoor instead of the faux-bread you get in other places).

In all the food was quite good with an intensity of spices missing in our previous experience at Bombay Club - we thoroughly enjoyed the food, the service was great and the Thali plates offered more food than either of us could eat.

The only negative was that it was a very busy night so we had to wait a bit to get our food - which was still well within our expectations. Kabob and Curry will be on my "must"  list the next time I return to Providence.

-- John

(Also posted in shorter form to Yelp)

Kabob n Curry on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bluefin Grille - Providence Marriott Downtown - Providence Rhode Island

The Bluefin Grill is the restaurant at the Downtown Marriott, 1 Orms St, Providence RI 02904. I spent 5 nights at this hotel while visiting vendors in the surrounding area and had the opportunity to sample both food and drink, mostly at the bar which was fairly busy when we returned from dinner.

A couple of days in we finished early enough that I ended up being on my own for lunch - the Bluefin was just the ticket as I sat at the bar and enjoyed a couple of pints of beer (there was a list of local craft for $5 a pint - quite a deal). Although this is a Harpoon mug, it's actually a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA - one of my favorites!

Service was very good and I could tell by the techniques employed by the bartender that she was well trained (not that pouring beer takes much but the mixed drinks she was making for others were very well done). I watched some local programming, made some notes for work in my notebook and occasionally caught her restocking or making some exotic cocktail. Tourists are the same everywhere, apparently.

There was also a great "Gameday Special" cited "Burger and Beer $12" and "Angus Beef, aged cheddar, crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and a pickle paired with a selection of one of the beers below" - I passed on the $3 beer selection and want with something crafty. I also ordered a side-salad instead of fries in an attempt to eat a bit healthier - heh.

In all, the food, even as a special burger, was exceptional. I don't know if there's a better hotel in Providence, but the food at the Downtown Marriott makes all the difference in my book.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)

Bluefin Grille on Urbanspoon

MuMu Cuisine - Federal Hill on Atwalls - Providence Rhode Island

MuMu Cuisine is located at 220 Atwells Ave in the center of a row of shops in Federal Hill. Parking is on the street or in one of the many l lots down alleys behind the shops. In Providence over the weekend and exploring Atwells and Federal - apparently rain kills the restaurant business except for Italian. Can't touch those restaurants, many with a two hour wait when the weather is nice. We were thinking about doing something spicy and preferably with rice, and walked past "Ho's" which didn't have a single table seated - fortunately we stumbled on MuMu's just down the street.

This restaurant is a bit unassuming - looking in, only 4 tables were occupied, but nary a white guy at any and I distinctly heard Mandarin coming from one table.

The menu was typical of most Americanized "shwag" Chinese places, however some of the suggestions were very Shanghai sounding - the cover also sports an interesting "Gangnam Flavor" label I found intriguing.

 We were seated and put in our drink order (we both had the tea which was very "obachan" like but a bit dark - still very tasty and served in a pint beer glass) - at this point I had very little expectations as our we had both very good food on our first day (dinner at Siena) and fairly bad (lunch at Mi Ranchito).

We started with some basic veggie steamed dumplings (pot stickers) which were good but had a bit of a texture problem (a bit too stringy for me). I ordered the Chicken with Vegetables and asked for it to be spiced up a bit as is my habit. Sid ordered the veggie fried rice. In all the food was above average and I was surprised a bit, especially in this Italian area of town and in a city where most Asian cuisine seems to be of the "PF Chang" sort.

Service was better than average and the waitress did a great job answering questions regarding the ingredients used for the various dishes.

-- John

(shorter review also posted on Yelp)

Mumu Cuisine on Urbanspoon