About this blog

My mother was a great cook. My father loved to eat.
I am the Man from Pawtucket and this is my story. Here you will find a collection of observations, from Central Falls to Central Park, from Pawtucket to Paris, about Eating Well. Bon Appetit.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


December 23, 2008

I went to Tree in the East Village with my brother before the holidays. Chef-owner Andrew Robinson, formerly of Gramercy Tavern, took over the old Brunetta's restaurant on First Avenue. The small, narrow restaurant, with a backyard garden, serves French bistro food. We started with two salads followed by steak frites and mushroom risotto with truffle oil, one of the daily specials. We also had a reasonably priced bottle of Chinon. The food was decent with attentive service.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pizzeria Paradiso

December 8, 2008

I had a great lunch at Pizzeria Paradiso at Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. I sat at the small counter and watched as my pizza was made in the wood-burning oven. They use fresh mozzarella, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. Not Ben's Chili Bowl but still well worth a visit if you're in Washington.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Walfels & Dinges on Park Avenue (South)

December 3, 2008

I passed this yellow truck selling ‘really belgian’ wafels & dinges on Park Avenue South (formerly 4th Avenue). The made-to-order ‘mother of all waffles’ cost $4 while a mini-waffle (more like a doughnut hole) served on a stick cost $2. I didn’t try either. Maybe next time.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Down on Main Street

December 1, 2008

Since there has been so much talk about Main Street, we decided we better see for ourselves what it was like. We found the Eat Buffet & Restaurant at 42-07 Main Street and right across the street, Chung Fat Supermarket at 41-82 Main Street. Politics aside, Main Street is the place to go for some good eating.

Boy vs. Wild

December 1, 2008

It seems that my 10-year-old son has taken a cue from Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmer and Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls (he loves that name). Lately, he has tried cold jellyfish, boiled tongue, turkey hash and yesterday, chicken feet at East Buffet & Restaurant in Queens, New York. I can’t say he liked it all but I applaud his willingness to try!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Providence trip report from October

October 2008
By our man in Pawtucket
(aka Lurker W's older brother Bob W)

I spent a couple of days in Providence with brother Lurker W. Here are the places we hit -- as usual, they range from the sublime to the ridiculous. This is the report on Friday night.

Pizza (Wayland Sq.) -- our plan to grab moules at Red Stripe while waiting for our table at La Laiterie fell through because the wait at RS was even longer than at LL, so we popped in to on of my old haunts, Minerva Pizza. New owners took over about 5 years ago, and have cleaned the place up. Still the usual greek pizza. Not nearly as greasy as I remember, and the crust even held up under three toppings -- Mushroom, banana peppers, and linguica (great combo BTW). Good neighborhood pizza.
La Laiterie (Wayland Sq.) -- we weren't exactly starving after the pizza, so we shared the charcuterie plate and the mac&cheese. The charcuterie doesn't look like a lot of food, but it's all very intensely flavored. Four meats (some kind of salami, duck carpaccio, pork trotters pate (basically pure fat), and some kind of sausage), four pickle-type things (bread and butter pickles, pickle jalapenos), celery root salad, and cornichons), babu's (sp?) mustard (very intense), red wine butter, and the surprise, honeycomb.
Very good bread too.
Everything but the cornichons is house-made. Really an incredible array of flavors. The honeycomb was the big surprise; didn't think I would like it but it was great. The pate was absurdly rich. The mustard and jalapenos will blow your head off. Etc etc.
And the mac cheese? Just ridiculous.
This is not food for the faint of heart. (Although your heart might faint after you're done.) This is a place I could be a regular at.
We each tried a different red wine. Both were very dry and good accompaniments for the rich food.

Here is the Saturday-Sunday recap:
Bluefin Grille (Providence Marriott): We got coupons for free breakfast brunch (regular price is $15.95). Not bad at all. Marriott bacon is as good as ever. The brunch also includes smoked salmon and good fresh fruit. Lurker W had a nice egg white omelet made to order. You can eat pretty well here. Normally I might not have eaten for the rest of the day, but there was work to be done.
Rufful's (Wayland Sq.): We stopped in as usual, but the torch has been passed. Mike Rufful and his brother in law John have retired. The boss is now Mike's son Peter. Being stuffed from breakfast we just got a grilled corn muffin and coffee. The place is doing just fine, but it's not our Rufful's any more.
Mike's Kitchen (Knightsville, Cranston): This place lives up to the billing! Not only is the food very good -- we shared snail salad, fried calamari with hot peppers, veal and peas, polenta, and a side of peppers (now how RI is that menu?) -- but the place is a trip (on many levels). (For comparison's sake, think Rocky & Carlo's in Chalmette, LA).
I could go back to Mike's ten times, order five different things each time, and probably be just as happy each time.

Chez Pascal (Hope St., Providence): I'm going to give CP a pass, because we were really too stuffed to truly appreciated the place on this visit (surprised, huh?).
I got the vegetarian tasting menu, because I was trying to eat somewhat light. Unfortunately, i didn't eat light. The salad came with a square of creamy goat cheese in a crispy shell, and my entree was a puree of something in a crispy shell over some cubed root vegetables with a scoop of pumpkin mousse. The whole thing was just too much.

There was a special king crab appetizer but the crab was served over a ragout of some other root vegetables. Just sounded like overkill. The whole fall menu thing...just too heavy and monochromatic for me on this visit, I guess.
I don't want to dissuade anyone from trying what is clearly a beloved place. I'd give the place another shot -- on a completely empty stomach. They have a great wine list (I got a half-bottle of a Chataneuf du Pape-style wine from Calif) and some really interesting cocktails too.
And sadly, no late-night NY System weiners.
Modern Diner (East Ave., Pawtucket): Lurker W was under the weather so I had to venture in by myself. Once again, the Modern hit a home run. The key is ordering one of the specials thumb-tacked or taped to the wall. I got cranberry-apple french toast. Not only was it delicious, but like the french toast I got on my last visit, it was artistry on a plate. Just a great dish.
Seven Stars Bakery (Hope St., Providence): Lurker W got a baguette because that's all his stomach could take. Excellent baguette. Nice and chewy.
DeFusco's Bakery (Cranston): We got a bag of pizza strips to take to a tailgate at the Pats game. Love those pizza strips! So cheap yet so good.
Finally, I picked up a 32-oz bottle of Autocrat coffee syrup to take back to VA. The TSA guy at the airport got a kick out of that when it showed up on the x-ray machine (in the bag I checked specifically so I could get my coffee syrup home).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

50+ @ 40

October 10, 2008

I went to Back 40 a few days ago with my son. We were promptly seated in the outdoor garden which, compared to other ones, was pretty comfortable. We had risotto balls with beets and blue cheese (not a favorite of my son), the special fennel salad with pumpkin, grass-fed burger with sea salt and rosemary fries and a 1/2 of chicken cooked in their French-made rotisserie (left/sold by the previous restaurant) . If I judged the meal based on how much or how fast my son ate his hamburger, it was a huge success.  He finished the whole thing in record time. Despite the food and excellent service, it was a bit pricey for Avenue B in the East Village. But we’ll probably go back (40) again anyway.

Friday, October 10, 2008

An EatWells LiveWells Weekend

October 2008

Last weekend we celebrated my birthday by EatingWells and LivingWells. On the way back from my son’s soccer game in Brooklyn (he won), we were diverted by heavy traffic on the BQE to just under the Brooklyn Bridge. We took the opportunity to have a quick pizza at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria on Old Fulton Street. We shared a large plain pie- just some sauce, basil, olive oil and fresh mozzarella cooked in a coal brick oven until the crust blistered and the bottom has just a touch of black. We enjoyed it lot. We then headed around the corner for some of Jacques Torres Chocolate. We shared apiece of dark chocolate bark with some espresso (my son tasted Torres’s famous hot chocolate). That night, we went to Le Perigord, one the few remaining classic French restaurants. We started with two glasses of Lillet and a Shirley Temple for our apperetif. Next my wife and I ordered the cold buffet and my son chose the escargot. For the plats principaux, we had halibut, bass and a filet of beef. Finally, for dessert, we had a chocolate souffle, chocolate mouse and apple tarte tatin. It was a lot of food and a lot fun and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Perbacco is not Perfecto

September 20, 2008

We went to Perbacco last Saturday for dinner. Frank Bruni in The New York Times gave it two stars a few weeks ago so we decided to give it a try. Well, we were not impressed. First of all, what is it with stools? Have restaurant designers ever sat on one and had a meal? Perbacco is small, crowded and very noisy and the food was simply not that good. Certainly didn’t live it up to the hype. For appetizers, we shared grilled zucchini and ricotta cheese , a special rolled bresaola and a green salad with walnuts and honey. The others were OK but the zucchini was iced cold. We mentioned it to two servers who just said “sorry about that”.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One more Constant

September 10, 2008
I managed to have one more nice lunch in Paris before returning home and went directly to Christian Constant’s Café Constant; just a few doors down from Les Cocottes on rue Saint-Dominique.

Since I didn’t have a lot of time, I quickly decided on the 23 euro menu of the day. The first course was 3 grilled langoustines with a simple green salad. Next, was a plate of roasted organic chicken with a few roasted potatoes. Simple, but well done (taste that is, not the chicken). Finally, for dessert I had fresh raspberries with cream, almonds and mint.

It was a great ending to a few days in Paris.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Constant's Cocottes

September 8, 2008
Les Cocottes, 135 rue Saint-Dominique
This is one of four restaurants by Chef Christian Constant. They are all along one block of rue Saint-Dominique, very close to La Tour Eiffel. After working at The Ritz, Paris, Constant became Executive Chef at The Hotel Crillon's 2-star Michelin restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs. After 8 years at the Crillon he decided to open his own restaurant, Violon d'Ingres, just a few doors down from Les Cocottes.
I had the ‘salade roquette’ (arugula with bacon and poached egg)’ the ‘cocotte du jour’ (cocotte is a casserole) and ‘fromage basque’ served with black cherry confit. I thoroughly enjoyed these dishes with a carafe of Chablis and one of Cairanne rouge (AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages)

I really enjoyed this bistro. The food and service were both excellent and the price was very reasonable considering the quality.