Category Archives: Food

The Lion’s Pride

After our Sunday River trip, we  headed down to Brunswick, ME for the night to visit The Lion’s Pride, the newest restaurant owned by Chris and Jen Lively of Ebenezer’s fame. If you like beer and you live in New England (or anywhere really) and you haven’t been to Ebenezer’s, you need to get there… NOW. Of course their hours during the winter are funny, being only open on the weekend, likely due to their seriously remote location. This is why we decided to go to The Lion’s Pride. They’re open every night of the week.

While Ebenezer’s has a small middle of nowhere pub feel to it, The Lion’s Pride has a more urbane feel. Aside from that difference, they’re very much the same. The staff at both restaurants are fantastic. The food is to die for. And the beer… it’s world class. They’re both known for their steak tips, using the same recipe at each and getting their beef from the same local farm. This is what I ordered. And, as expected, they were absolutely amazing. Whatever they use as a marinade is just mouth watering. Susan got the seafood scampi, which said it came with lobster, mussels, shrimp, and scallops. We weren’t expecting much in the way of big hunks of seafood, but on top of the huge mount of pasta was a huge mound of seafood,  including a ton of lobster. I ate my whole meal, but Susan brought hers home. It fed both of us that second night. Prior to our meals, we were brought a small loaf of bread, which was amazing. I think it was a molasses oatmeal bread or something like that. I honestly don’t remember, but it was darker and very tasty.

Now the beer… being indecisive, we ordered a couple flights. They had a taplist of something like 25 different beers, all amazing. This made the choice difficult and the option of getting a flight much more attractive. Our first flight of six beers consisted of the following.

  • Smuttynose G-Bock
  • De Struise Pannepot
  • Cuvee de Jacobins
  • Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine
  • Biere de Boucanier
  • Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted

The Smutty was a great beer, classified as a doppelbock. It was sweeter and quite tasty. Cuvee de Jacobins is a Flanders red ale (or a sour red). The difference is that it’s far more tart than most in the style. In fact, it bordered on being a lambic, in my opinion. Pannepot is a spiced Belgian ale, similar to a spiced quadrupel. It’s tasty, but not my favorite (though I’ve heard it’s excellent aged). The Olde School wasn’t as good as I had hoped. It was hoppier, but not hoppy. The malt profile seemed lacking. I expected more depth to the beer. Bitter and Twisted is a traditional English IPA. It was nice and malty with a touch of hops. It’s very easy drinking. Finally, Biere de Boucanier is a Belgian strong pale ale. I wasn’t overly impressed by it, but it was still good (I’m not the biggest Belgian pale ale fan).

Because there was still so much beer left on the list that I had to try, I ordered a partial flight when we finished the first. That one consisted of:

  • Smuttynose Oak Aged Maibock
  • Allagash Interlude
  • Koningshoeven Quad
  • Bayrischer Berlinerweiss

The Berlinerweiss was ordered straight up. In Germany, they’ll add a shot of flavor to it, like raspberry or apple. We wanted the pure unadulterated beer. It’s a very light, easy drinking wheat beer with a tart finish. It’s a very refreshing beer. I wasn’t impressed with the Quad, which was surprising as I enjoy it from the bottle. Perhaps the difference was being on tap. I actually have  bottle of that in my basement from 2006 that I need to drink. I’ve heard that those bottles had something wrong with them, but I guess we’ll find out when I open it. Interlude is a different type of beer. I think Allagash was going for a saison, but ended up infecting it by accident the first time they made it. It gave the beer a slight hint of funky tartness. It’s an excellent beer as always. My favorite beer of the night, however, was the Oak Aged Maibock. I don’t know what kind of oak barrels Smuttynose used, but I was expecting a big bourbon flavor as with many oak aged beers. This one, however, was very different. The oak gave the beer a nutty maple flavor that I was not expecting. It tasted almost like maple walnut ice cream. It was a superb beer, and, as a big fan of everything maple, easily my favorite.

The waiter we had, Jon, was excellent. He brought us a complimentary glass of the Cuvee de Jacobins as dessert. He knew his beer, as did the other two people working there that night. I was very impressed by their beer expertise, though I shouldn’t have expected anything less. We chatted with them all for a bit before we left. Even though they closed up right after we left (at 9:30 pm), they weren’t in a rush to get us out of there.

Finally, I want to comment on the pricing. Our bill came out to almost $90 for our two meals and the two flights of beer. The way they do the flights is give you basically a half pour for half the price. They fill up large tasting glasses, which are probably about 5 or 6 ounces each. Our beer came out to just about $40, not including tip or the complimentary beer. My meal was the cheaper (I didn’t have lobster in it). Susan’s meal cost $27, but for the amount of food, especially the amount of high quality seafood, it was well worth the price. I am not one to enjoy spending a large amount of money going out to dinner. The food and beer at this place is well worth every penny. In fact, I would dare you to compare the quality of the food with any top quality restaurants in a major metropolitan area. The food matches the quality of some of the best restaurants here in Providence – a city known for it’s culinary masters.

World’s Best Pasta e Fagioli

While my claim might be a little dreamy, I have never had a Pasta e Fagioli that I have liked better, even at the best of Italian restaurants. The only thing I can come up with is that the restaurants are making a peasant’s dish too classy. The dish is meant to be simple and easy to make with few ingredients. After all, in English, it just means “Pasta and Beans”.

The recipe that follows has been handed down to me from my mother. It’s the same way my paternal grandparents made it (oddly enough, my father doesn’t know the recipe). This is the same recipe that has been my favorite meal since I was pretty young. Being that this is one of those handed down recipes, there’s a lot of improvisation (the garlic, oregano, and basil were my additions).

Ingredients:

1 pound spaghetti (I use Barilla)
4 8 oz cans of Hunts Tomato Sauce (the plain one)
1 can of cannellini (white kidney) beans (brands very. I prefer Sclafani. Progresso is no good)
1 medium size yellow onion
6 cloves of Garlic (if you don’t like garlic, use less, if you do, use more)
Olive oil (I use extra virgin, but it’s just what I have in the cabinet)
Oregano (dried flakes)
Basil (dried flakes)

Chop the garlic and onion. Add some olive oil to the bottom of a pot. I usually use a 3 qt pot, but it gets filled pretty close to the rim. Cook the garlic, but don’t burn it. Add some more olive oil and then add the onion and sauté until the onion is translucent. I generally end up with a lot of olive oil in the pot to the point where it’s nearly covering all the onion (I like olive oil). I let it get hot and add the tomato sauce and cannellini beans (including the “bean juice”). After each can of tomato sauce is added, I carefully fill the empty can with water, making sure to mix the excess sauce in, and add that to the pot. I usually rinse the bean can just enough to get some water in it and mixed with the excess “bean juice” and add that to the pot as well. I then add the oregano and basil to taste. You can also probably add salt and/or pepper if you want, but I generally don’t. Let the whole thing come to a brief boil, stirring pretty regularly, and then let it simmer covered.

While the sauce is getting hot, I get the water going for the spaghetti. While I’m waiting for it to come to a boil, I break the spaghetti up into small pieces (about 1-2 inches in length). It’s a lot of work, but it makes eating this a lot easier. By the time I’m done, the water is ready. Cook the spaghetti according to the package. I generally stir the spaghetti with the same utensil used for the sauce. In fact, I’ll add a small amount of the sauce to the spaghetti water (you’ll understand soon enough). When the spaghetti is done, pour about 1-2 quarts of the water used to cook it into something to save it (again, you’ll understand by the end of this), then strain as usual. Add the spaghetti back to the pot and then dump in the sauce and stir it up. The consistency should be almost stew-like. Cover the pot and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. This allows the spaghetti to soak up the flavors from the sauce.

Serve it in soup bowls or pasta bowls. I usually add a good amount of grated parmesan or romano (or a mix of the 2) cheese to it and mix it in. It’s best eaten with a good crusty Italian bread for dipping.

This recipe makes a lot. I don’t know the exact number of servings, but I always end up with a lot leftover. This is where that water you saved comes in. I add the leftovers to a container for the fridge. But usually by the time I do it, it has thicken up quite a bit. I add some of that water (which already has a lot of the flavors mixed in) to loosen it up a bit. If you add too much of the water, it will be bland. If you don’t add enough, it will be really thick.

I’m still perfecting this each time I make it. I have yet to have a brand of beans besides Sclafani that meets my approval. Sclafani may not be available in all parts of the country (I can get it in RI or CT). You can try making it with 2 15 oz cans of the tomato sauce (always use the plain Hunts). I’ve made it really bland. I’ve made it overpowering. It all comes down to the spices. Now, the one thing I can’t remember (which is why I said you can add it if you want) is if my mother used salt and/or pepper in the sauce. That might be why it sometimes comes out bland. Though, on that same note, I’ve had it be absolutely fantastic without adding that stuff. I do salt the pasta water (adding a good amount of salt after it’s boiling, but before adding the pasta).

If you try this or make some changes, let me know what you think in the comments. I really don’t care what anyone says. This will always be the world’s best Pasta e Fagioli to me. Enjoy!

Hot’lanta!

Susan and I visited my cousin in the Atlanta area for an extended Memorial Day weekend. It was a ton of fun, but here are some of the highlights and thoughts on some of the urban issues down there.

The first day, we had to pick up my cousin at the airport at 10pm. He gave us his car to use for the day so we spent it in Atlanta (he actually lives about 20 miles north). Our first stop was lunch because we were starving. We went to The Underground and ate at The Irish Bred. The food was tasty and I got a Sweetwater 420 on tap there. It was a great start to a vacation. From there, we wandered around The Underground, which is basically a street underground that was turned into a mall, but it’s mostly independent stores, which is nice. It’s a neat spot, but nothing overly special, especially on a rainy Thursday afternoon when there’s nothing going on.

After leaving The Underground, we headed over to Sweetwater for the tour and tasting, which started at 5:30. Not being from the area, we didn’t know what to expect, but it was nothing like a northeast brewery. They literally don’t do anything until 5:30. So we sat in our car in their parking lot. When we got out, they had setup a tent and tables at the end of their driveway and there was already a line forming. All total, there were probably about 300 people there, mostly for the cheap beer. They charge you $7 for a glass or gave a free plastic cup that was small and you got 6 drink tickets for 6 tastings (2 tickets for a higher gravity beer). They claimed they limit the pours, but they don’t really. I got about 3/4 of a pint each time even though it was supposed to be 5.5 ounces. The tasting part was kind of like a frat party. The tour was cool, though the tour guide was a bit odd. She seemed to be a little beer snobby. It would have been nice if it was a brewer. They had a cool painted tank (pic to follow) for their experimental stuff and they had some barrels with sour and wild beers (pics to follow). It was nice to learn that they bought a large building next door. I’m hoping they’ll expand distribution. They make some great beers. I’d love to see them in New England. My favorites were Happy Ending (a great imperial stout) and their IPA.

We immediately left and headed to Atlanta Brewing Co., the brewers of the Red Brick beers. This was a much smaller group. Similar deal on the tasting, though you only got 4 each (which was fine for us since I was driving). Same deal with the size of the pours, though they were offering half a pint, but I still got almost a full pint. The tour was much smaller and more intimate and a little more informative. They have a lot of room to expand in their space, but they aren’t producing anywhere near as much beer as Sweetwater (they said they’re at 10-15,000 bbl per year while Sweetwater is at 80,000 bbl per year). Their brown ale is awesome. It has a nice roasted flavor with a hint of coffee.

Following the tour, we headed to Green’s Package Store to buy some beer to bring home and then to the Porter Beer Bar for dinner before picking up my cousin. The Porter Beer Bar is a must visit place for beer lovers in Atlanta. The waitstaff was great, the space is very unique (long and narrow, but very comfortable), and the food and beer selection is awesome. I had a Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale (Bell’s had only been available in Georgia for about 2 weeks when we arrived) with my brats and kraut, and Susan had the shrimp and grits.

The next day for lunch, we went to Five Seasons brewpub. It’s a chain, but the beer and food were good. The beer is nothing to seriously seek out, but it’s definitely worth trying if you’re near one. I had their pale ale, which tasted a bit grainy, but was still tasty. My wife had their stout, which was very good. The food was excellent. Their onion rings are the size of small donuts. The thing that surprised me is that they had a menu of aged bottled beers (their own) available. I have never seen that in a brewpub.

We headed to Athens on Saturday for the day. Our first stop was lunch at Trappeze. Everything here was very good. They had a great selection of beer. I got a Bell’s Expedition Stout, which was on the house because I only got 1/2 to 3/4 of a pour as it was the end of the keg. They had an extensive beer menu, which was all craft and looked incredible. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to drink a whole lot so early in the day. Athens is a pretty cool little city. It’s the location of the University of Georgia, which is big, making it a college town. It was very much like New Haven or Burlington. It’s very artsy with a big music scene (after all, REM hails from Athens). After wandering around for a bit, we stopped at the Mellow Mushroom for some beer and let the women check out some clothing stores and try to get my cousin’s kid to take a nap. They had a pretty impressive beer selection for a chain pizza place. I got some good local beers there. Finally, we ended up at the Last Resort for dinner. None of us were overly impressed by it, but it did seem popular. They had a great sweet tea and my trout was really tasty.

While in Athens, we all visited the Terrapin brewery. This was the same deal as the others. You buy a glass and get so many drink tickets. This place gave out 8 drink tickets, but only had 5 beers available. Terrapin makes some awesome beers. Their Rye Pale Ale and India Brown Ale were both awesome. They’re the one brewery I wish I brought back more beers from. The tour was very informative and given by their VP. They are looking to expand and I told him to consider RI. Hopefully, they will.

On Sunday, we went to Summits Wayside Tavern, which boasts the world’s largest selection of beer. How true that is, I have no idea, but they had something like 214 taps and even more beer in bottles (though I imagine some of that beer overlapped). I was not overly impressed other than when I looked at the bar. The wall of taps is pretty intimidating. A lot of the taps were not craft beer, though Susan and I did get some good beer. She had the Old Dominion Bourbon Barrel Stout and I had the Highland Oatmeal Porter (though they got mixed up and I ended up drinking hers and she mine). They were both tasty beers that I can’t get in New England. The restaurant is basically a family restaurant. The service was lackluster and the atmosphere was pretty low brow. I would have preferred a nicer restaurant with smaller beer selection, but it was worth going to once.

We then headed back to RI on Monday. We did eat at the Sam Adams Brewhouse in the Atlanta airport and saw that the Akron airport had a Great Lakes brewhouse in their terminal (didn’t get a chance to see if I could buy beer to bring back with me). All in all, it was a fun trip. We brought back almost a case of beer (Red Brick Brown Ale, Red Brick Double Chocolate Oatmeal Porter, Terrapin 90 Schelling, Terrapin Monk’s Revenge, Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout, New Belgium 1554, New Belgium Fat Tire, and Avery Brabant).

Urban issues: Atlanta was designed for driving. Highways are 6-7 lanes wide in 1 direction. Roads in the city were mostly 2-3 lanes wide. The city is filled with sprawl. It’s a new southern city. There are neat areas (5 Points is a cool neighborhood), but it’s a lot of sprawl. Athens, on the other hand, is a well designed city, though I didn’t notice any public transportation there, but it is walkable.

Kate the Great Day 2/9/09

So, now you know the reason why I held off on my review of Portsmouth Brewery.  I extended my vacation by a day and went up to Portsmouth for Kate the Great on Monday with a bunch of other beer geeks from RI.  In fact, I was the designated driver of a 12 passenger van.  I’m sure the question on anyone’s mind who hasn’t tried Kate the Great is “How is it?”  Well… it’s awesome, but I’ll get to more on that later.

The final day of the Maine trip, we drove back from the Olde Saco Inn.  Since we had a huge breakfast, none of us were hungry for a while.  We decided it’d be a good idea to stop for lunch in Portsmouth, since it was already 2:00.  We figured the Portsmouth Brewery would be the best place… and it was.  We had to wait a little bit for a table, but it was worth the wait.  Our hunger had crept up to us by then.  We had a great waitress.  The food was excellent.  I had a chicken pesto sandwich with tortillas and salsa rather than fries.  I was all fried out by then.  I tried their Flanders Red with my lunch.  The beer was great (though some disliked it on Monday, I still thought it was excellent).  It was a bit tart and a little musty.  Apparently, it’s not infected, but rather utilizes a sour mash to get that flavor.  I still thought it was really good.  Everyone else got their Oatmeal Stout, which is also excellent.

Anyway, back to Kate the Great Day… We got up bright and early and met at 6:00 to head up to Portsmouth that morning.  We arrived around 8:30 to find that they had already started handing out calendar dates.  They use page-a-day calendars as their numbers for the beer and call everyone up a month at a time.  It actually worked out really smoothly and there weren’t any problems.  By the time we had arrived, they were up to the beginning of July.  We knew we would get our bottles because they released 900 bottles and there was a 2 bottle limit per person.  After we got our bottles, we headed to the Friendly Toast for some breakfast.  The place had no idea what was coming.  They had 1 waiter on and a line of people out the door.  They ended up calling in more and things started to calm down a bit.  I had french toast, which was huge, and pretty good, but nothing overly special (the breakfast at Julian’s is much better).

Once we were nicely stuffed with food, which many of us failed to finish due to the sheer quantity, we headed out and wandered around Portsmouth while we waited for the brewery to open at 11:30.  Around 11, we got in line outside the brewery and waited for the doors to open.  As soon as we made it to the door, we headed to the downstairs bar, which I had no idea existed, and sat ourselves down right at the bar.  It worked out great as a bunch of people we knew who had heckled us for waiting in line were without seats.

We hung out, chatted with various people, drank some beer, and killed some time before 1:14 when they tapped Kate.  They had some great beers on, including their Oatmeal Stout dry-hopped with Columbus hops on cask, which we killed and was followed by their Dubbled dry-hopped with Saaz hops on cask.  Both were excellent.  Being the designated driver, I drank mostly water throughout the day.

As 1:14 arrived, the place went nuts, the bartenders went crazy filling glasses, and we were the first to get to try Kate the Great.  The beer is a very thick black imperial stout.  It has a lot of chocolate flavor to it, similar to, but not quite the same as, Southern Tier Choklat.  There are some roasted undertones, a little coffee bitterness, some fruitiness, and a slight alcoholic warming.  The beer, according to the bartender, is about 12.5% ABV.  It drank like it had 9%.  It was very heavy and I’m not sure I could have drunk more than one of them if I wanted to.  While the party was going on, we all eventually got up and bought our 2 bottles and kept chatting with other beer geeks from RI and CT and all over New England and some from around the country.

By 3:30, it was time for more food.  I ordered the steak and cheese, which was phenomenal.  I don’t know that I’ve ever had a steak and cheese sub that was this good.  It was juicy, full of flavor, and completely hit the spot.  I washed it down with their Dirty Blonde Ale, as I was looking for something a bit lighter.  The beer was an excellent blonde ale with a nice flavor and finish, but not heavy.  The others ended up getting food and as things started to wind down, we decided it was time to head out.  We made it back to RI around 7:00, but decided to head to Julian’s because they had Abbaye de Saint Bon Chien on tap, an expensive beer and supposedly the most expensive keg ever purchased in RI.  That beer was also excellent, though in quite a different manner.  It had a nice vinous quality to it and tasted like a cross between a gueuze, a Flanders red, and a biere de garde.  At 15% ABV, it was strong, but the alcohol stayed hidden.  The beer also changed quite a bit as it warmed up.  It was a nice finish to a great day.

If you’re in New England and driving along 95, stop by the Portsmouth Brewery.  It’s easy to find and the food and beer make it worth a stop.  Portsmouth is a cool little town.  It reminded me quite a bit of a smaller version of Burlington, VT.  If you were at Kate the Great Day and got your 2 bottles, here’s a little tip.  One of the guys in our group was chatting with Tod Mott, the brewer.  He suggested you set the beer down for a year before opening it.  That’s likely what I’ll do, though it will be very tempting to open.  It’s a really good stout, deserving of the hype, and, in my opinion, the #1 spot on BA.  Westvleteren 12 isn’t quite as deserving.

Review: Cafe 412

Last night, after spending a couple hours at Nikki’s for the Thursday night beer tasting, I headed over to Cafe 412 at the suggestion of Mike (the beer guy and owner of Nikki’s).  I had known of the existence of this bar/restaurant, working for Providence College and all.  One of my former student employees, Jenny, had talked about this bar quite a bit as I believe she is friends with the owner.  So we headed over to this little bar on Douglas Ave and walked inside.  It was about 9:00 pm and the bar was completely empty.  It’s a small room with a U shaped bar and a couple of bar-height tables around the edge.  There’s a little nook with an ATM machine (that is “free”, in that they’ll take a dollar off your purchase for using it and paying the dollar fee) and a bathroom in the back corner.  In the middle of the bar are the taps and a row of bottles beneath displaying the beer.  There are 2 chalkboards hanging on the walls on either side of the bar displaying the beer list.  Behind the bar is a big reebar (sp?) rack to hold wine bottles with a neat arch made of tab handles for various beers.

The beer selection last night was pretty impressive, especially considering this is a college bar.  They had the following on draft:

  • Allagash White
  • Stone Ruination
  • St. Bernardus Abt 12
  • Victory Prima Pils
  • Ipswich Ale
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Left Hand Milk Stout
  • Flying Dog In Heat Wheat
  • North Coast Red Seal Ale
  • Thirsty Dog Hoppus Maximus

In addition to that, they also had one tap that wasn’t being used.  Their bottle list was a little less impressive, though the standouts were Haverhill Leatherlips IPA and Whittier White, Long Trail Double Bag, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, Thirsty Dog Siberian Night, and Left Hand Sawtooth Ale.  There were probably about 25-30 bottled beers in total.   The beer was served colder than what would be ideal, but with a little time, it warmed up.  The Abt 12 was served in a St. Bernardus chalice, which was a nice touch.

Our waitress, Audrey, was fantastic.  She didn’t know a whole lot about the beers, but she seemed very willing to learn, and had informed us she was planning a trip to Nikki’s to mix her own 6 pack this weekend.  We also ordered some food.  I had heard their pizzas are really good.  Those who told me weren’t lying.  It’s a grilled flatbread pizza.  I got a margarita (fresh tomato and basil) on their whole wheat crust.  It was awesome, rivaling Bob and Timmy’s (though this was a little different from Bob and Timmy’s grilled pizza).  Everyone else also seemed to enjoy their meals (I don’t remember what people got, other than Susan who got nachos that looked fantastic).  We left around 11:30 and there were still only a few other people in the place.  I’m going to assume that because they actually card, it’s not a big hot spot for the students.

If you’re looking for a great low key bar in Providence that serves great food, Cafe 412 is worth a visit.  The beer selection, while not over-the-top, is great, the food is awesome, and the service is fantastic.  Check it out, have a beer or two, and enjoy their awesome prices (my pint of Ruination was $4 and the Abt 12 was $5).  Chatting with the waitress, it sounded like the owner wasn’t too sure how much longer he’d be able to carry some of the beers because they’re not big sellers and because of their high price.  We actually suggested to her that the owner should raise his prices on some of these beers (Ruination usually goes for $5-6 for a 10-12 oz. pour and Abt 12 is usually around $7-8 for a smaller pour as they filled it above the fill line on the glass).  I’ll definitely be going back, especially if I end up moving back to the neighborhood.

Julian’s Rocks

I know I’ve written about Julian’s before, but I had to write about them again.  Susan and I went there for dinner last week.  We wanted to go for a walk, but didn’t want to cook.  Julian’s had some healthy stuff on their summer menu, so we stopped in for dinner before going for a walk.  Susan got the tuna steak (ew because it’s rare, though she likes that kind of thing) and I got their mussels special, which was awesome.  Anyway, that’s not why I’m writing (though the food was excellent and certainly healthy).  I’m writing because they had a freaking keg of freaking oak-aged freaking 120 Minute IPA on tap.  Yeah… it was freaking awesome.  Susan ordered it while I got the Avril, which was also on tap.  That restaurant is full of surprises and totally worth your time.  The Avril was fantastic on tap (often saisons are not very good on tap, but this one was) and the 120 was phenomenal, though I would have preferred it as a dessert beer because it was so sweet (it’s on the sweet side to begin with and the oak aging added a sweet vanilla note to it).  So we got the beers with the highest ABV and the lowest ABV that night.

Go to Julian’s.  Drink lots of good beer.  Eat lots of awesome food.

Visit their MySpace page for updated food and drink/beer menus.

Tina’s Jamaican Caribbean Restaurant

Tonight, Susan and I decided to try something new for dinner and ended up at Tina’s Jamaican Caribbean Restaurant in the middle of Providence’s Little Italy (which is actually simply becoming the dining district with all the great food of various ethnicity).  I had heard their food was good, but it’s always empty.  I think they do a lot of take out business.  The waitress was really nice.  We started by splitting the coco bread (bread made with coconut milk) and a beef patty.  They were both excellent.  I ordered the curried goat and Susan got the curried chicken.  Both meals came with vegetables (which was cabbage and peppers and some other stuff), rice and peas (peas are actually red kidney beans), and fried plantains (which were quite delicious).  Both our meals were excellent.  The chicken and goat were so tender, there was no need for a knife.  I had never had goat before, but it was like a greasier lamb.  It peeled right off the bone and was very tasty.

The only thing I didn’t like was sorrel, which is like a berry wine with rose petals (it’s not alcoholic).  The rose petals added too much perfuminess to it that made it a bit unbearable, but it still tasted good.  We both left very satisfied and Susan even took some home.  I think we’ll be going back there again.  It’s definitely worth a visit.  Don’t let the lack of customers deter you, the food is awesome.

Coddington Brewing Co.

After we left the Folk Festival on Saturday, we headed to Middletown to get dinner at Coddington Brewing.  I had heard it was good.  The interior feels like a cheap family restaurant, like a Chelo’s or Gregg’s.  The waitstaff also seemed like people who would work at one of those.  Our waitress didn’t seem all that interested in serving us.  I ordered their IPA, an English style IPA.  It was actually quite tasty.  It has a nice hops flavor, but a really nice malt profile as well.  Neither was overpowering and it was quite drinkable.  Susan got their Nut Brown, which was similar to Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown.  It had a nice roasted nutty character.  We both got fried seafood.  I had scallops and Susan got fish and chips.  I wasn’t as impressed by the food.  The fries were nothing special, though the scallops were cooked well.  Susan really liked the fish and chips.  They were lightly coated and not overly greasy.  We then headed home.  I think that one trip was enough, though some of the other menu items looked really good (we didn’t want to spend a lot or overeat and fall asleep driving back to Providence).

I have now been to RI’s 4 brewpubs (Trinity Brewhouse and Union Station in Providence and Mohegan Cafe on Block Island are the other 3).  Trinity is still my all around favorite, though the beer at Coddington was solid.  I wasn’t impressed by the atmosphere at Coddington.  Union Station’s beer tends to be watered down, and Mohegan Cafe was just OK (though I’d go back there again if I find myself on the island).

Doherty’s East Ave. Irish Pub

Susan and I decided to check out Doherty’s East Ave. Irish Pub last night after hearing about it from some our beer buddies and reading some of the reviews on BA.  All I have to say is “Wow!”  The place is very unassuming… well, not true.  It’s very assuming.  It looks like a dive sports bar that serves nothing but light beer (though the big “Firkin Wednesdays” sign on the back of the building kind of gives it away).  The inside has all sorts of random stuff on the walls from sports stuff (lots of Red Sox crap) to beer stuff to music stuff, as well as a bunch of local stuff.  In front is the bar area, which was packed with people.  The back has a bunch of tables and is more like a restaurant (and quieter), though there was a projector showing the Mets game last night.

The beer menu is the placemat.  The front has a list of what’s on tap (looked to be 30-40 taps), along with their firkin tapping schedule.  On either side is the new stuff (bottles and draft) and the stuff that’s almost gone (again, bottles and draft).  I thought that was a nice touch.  The back had the bottle list, which I would put at over 100.  The majority of the beer was craft beer.  In fact, aside from a few bigger imports (like Guinness), the draft beer was all craft beer.  I ordered a Rogue Imperial IPA and Susan got the summer Odd Notion from Magic Hat (the grapefruit sour ale we tried at the brewery).

The food menu was impressive and had a wide range of stuff from traditional pub fare to some interesting pasta dishes and a bunch of wraps.  I ordered the Rasta Pasta, which was basically a Caribbean-style pasta dish with jerk chicken and a chipotle sauce.  It had quite the kick.  Susan got the Pasta Jordan, which was basically a Bolognese style pasta dish.  Both came with garlic bread.  The portions were huge, but the food was excellent.  While we were waiting for the food, the waitress brought us some corn muffins, which were also really good.

If you’re in the Providence-Pawtucket area, check out Doherty’s.  It’s worth a stop and, in my opinion, the best beer bar in the state.  Even if they don’t have all the Belgian beers that Track 84 does, they got the food (and I’m biased towards the crazy American beers anyway).

Dogfish Head Beer Dinner at Julian’s

I know it’s a little late, but this coming Sunday is a Dogfish Head beer dinner at Julian’s on Broadway in Providence.  It’s sold out (which is why this is a little late).  I imagine they’ll be open after it’s over and still have some great Dogfish Head beer on tap, like a keg of aged Pangaea, World Wide Stout, Raison d’Extra, Immort Ale, and Palo Santo Marron (among others).  The menu looks to be pretty unique (as with everything at Julian’s and Dogfish Head).  I’m looking forward to it and I will most definitely report back.

If you don’t have reservations and still want a great dining and beer experience, you must get over to Julian’s.  They currently have some great beers on tap, including Left Hand Imperial Stout, Ommegang Hennepin, and Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale (which is not part of the beer dinner).