Modern Bistro

Modern Bistro - Cumberland RI

Modern Bistro – Cumberland RI

During the 1980’s, American speculation suggested that fine French dining would displace its haughty attitudes with a more customer centric preference for lighter, more flexible and less provincial cuisine.  The birth of the American bistro was beginning to rise in popularity as restaurateurs began to weave the elegance of traditional French cuisine into the welcoming informalities of neighborhood restaurants.

Paris Picture - Modern Bistro

Paris Picture – Modern Bistro

The American Bistro therefore operates as our beloved caméléon café because casual, simple, elegant, romantic, affordable, fresh, creative and fun are all adjectives that can be used to describe the same restaurant.

The Modern Bistro in Cumberland, RI is a perfect fit within the community. The free-standing converted dining room is a welcoming space that mixes a bit of Parisian campiness with simplicity.  The menu offers a respectable selection of breakfast and lunch choices, and primarily focuses on locally/seasonally sourced ingredients.  In keeping with tradition, Modern Bistro  offers several creative crêpe varieties like Lemon & NY Style Ricotta for the sweet, and a fresh garden Ratatouille filled for the savory!

Modern's BLT

Modern’s BLT

Modern's BBQ Pulled Chicken

Modern’s BBQ Pulled Chicken

The strength from within the menu appears to be their artistic grilled sandwich selections. Modern Bistro  understands that the foundation that separates good sandwiches from great ones is the bread.  The freshest and most inventive ingredient combinations will always be overshadowed by the inadequacies of the fillings holder.  Modern Bistro uses freshly baked and crunchy sourdoughs, ciabattas, ryes, brioches, and a standout California bread (apricots, walnuts and figs).

On the recommendation of the owner Sabriea, we ordered Sabriea’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese (caramelized pears, baby spinach, Fontina, cheddar, with a fig spread) on the wickedly delicious California bread.  My thought was that if  a sandwich is named after its owner and it stinks, it could be a downward slide from that point! As expected and delivered, it was delicious and worthy of its namesake.

DaisyAdditionally, we ordered Modern’s BLT (applewood smoked bacon, vine ripened tomatoes, brushed with fresh herbed olive oil, baby spinach and fresh mozzarella with a smoked tomato mayo – on sourdough).  Applewood smoked bacon speaks to me, and is often difficult to pass up when creatively paired with complementary ingredients. The sandwiches are all accompanied by crunchy house-made chips and pickled cucumbers!

It is vital that we support our local restaurants through our patronage. There is a secure sense of community we feel when we congregate with friends and neighbors through meals, and often times, the restaurant owners are as “local” as you and me. The Modern Bistro is geographically poised to culinarily impact both the local and business communities, and my hope is that they continue to find ways to keep it fresh, affordable and creative.

Modern Bistro| 4077 Mendon Road | Cumberland, RI | (401) 658-0449

The Elephant Room

Beach Flower Bloom  - The Elephant Room

Beach Flower Bloom – The Elephant Room

In Rhode Island’s wild and lawless latte landscape, there exists an evolving community of Chá devotees. Whether placing the blame on British merchants for purposefully reducing tea imports sailing into Boston Harbor in 1773 had anything to do with the bitter taste left in our mouths, New Englanders can sure hold a grudge!

I am happy to report however that tea drinker lineage dates back to 10th century BC, thus kicking some “perk posterior” by centuries – just ask the Chinese, they’ll confirm the whole thing!

The Elephant Room

The Elephant Room

Now we can talk about the “elephant in the room,” a.k.a. The Elephant Room. This absolute gem is nestled in the heart of historic Pawtuxet Village. In a neighborhood that prides itself on quaint, The Elephant Room stands as the welcomed missing puzzle piece in the community.

 

Menu Board - The Elephant Room

Menu Board – The Elephant Room

The Elephant Room emanates serenity in its minimalist décor and simplicity in its menu board. The overall feel is warm and inviting. Lingering is encouraged as evidenced by the available magazines and Wi-Fi for perusing, and comfortable couches to appreciate both.

Beach Flower Bloom - The Elephant Room

Beach Flower Bloom – The Elephant Room

The Tea menu is well laid out and not complicated, but varied and exciting. There are well described White, Green, Black, Tisane/Fusion (herbal) and Oolong tea varieties for which to select. The menu also provides individual caffeine strengths, and a Premium/Exotic/Rare rating scale. Additionally, there are Pu-erh teas (pǔ’ěr chá) which is a variety of fermented dark tea produced in the Yunnan province, named after the trading post for dark tea during imperial China. In some Chinese cultures, this tea is believed to counteract the unpleasant effects of heavy alcohol consumption – did someone say hang-over cure!

Chandalier - The Elephant Room

Chandalier – The Elephant Room

The tea menu also offers several Ayurveda teas that are rumored to remove toxins in our bodies as a result of improper diet, chronic stress and impurities from the environment. My suggestion is a cup of the Pu-erh and Ayurveda the morning after you’ve “tied-one-on” – just sayin…

My tea selection was a blooming flower tea – Beach Flower, infused in a large glass pot. This light and flavorful green tea tasted of lychee and cantaloupe. Tasting notes that include fruit and floral are excellent choices for this time of year.

Bunutty Crepe - The Elephant Room

Bunutty Crepe – The Elephant Room

A visit to The Elephant Room cannot be concluded without Crêpes – it should be a rule!  I ordered the Bunutty Crêpe (banana, peanut butter, honey & Autocrat coffee syrup glaze) and it was superb. The crêpe was perfectly prepared, and the fresh ingredients added in perfect combination and quantity.

Crepe  - The Elephant Room

Crepe – The Elephant Room

I was especially impressed that the peanut butter was not overpowering in contrast to the delicate taste and texture of a crêpe. Additionally, the coffee syrup was a creative and delicious alternative to maple – not to mention a nice “nod” to a hometown favorite!

The Elephant Room - Signage

The Elephant Room – Signage

It’s natural to feel the allure when drinking tea. There’s something satisfying and mysterious about enjoying a natural drink with healing qualities that are produced in exotic regions around the world. There just has to be truth in that which has been used for thousands of years to sustain life. But even at the very least, tea just makes me feel warm, relaxed and at peace. I’d say that alone is worth a trip to The Elephant Room without question…

Dave —

The Elephant Room.2170 Broad Street.Cranston, Rhode Island 02905.(401) 461-2170

https://www.facebook.com/ElephantTeaRoom

 

Avenue N American Kitchen

David’s Review

Generally I do things out-of-order, but during this past week, I got it right! First, our party had a superb dining experience at Avenue N American Kitchen in Rumford, and then the following day, I read the restaurant’s review in the December issue of RI Monthly.

I was confused by the article’s contradictory headline and pictorial layout in contrast to the review itself. On the surface, the article appears to positively spotlight Avenue N, when in reality the writer takes multiple opportunities to suggest that if chef/owner Nick Rabar’s culinary reputation precedes him, his loyal following may be surprised that his new restaurant menu makes slight departures from the expected. Quite frankly, I wasn’t aware of Chef Rabar’s culinary resume, therefore placing our trusting palates in his hands was an exciting opportunity to try something new.

We arrived at Avenue N a bit early so we could sit at the bar and first have a cocktail. We met the very capable and personable bartender Kelly Adams.  We couldn’t help being drawn in by the interesting Elixirs (Elixers) cocktail menu for $7.50 each. We ordered the Bourbon Hayride (Makers Mark, vanilla bean syrup, Domaine de Canton, fresh lemon, hard apple cider and a bourbon soaked cherry) and a Loft Collins (Tanqueray, house made grapefruit bitters, ginger syrup, citrus and tonic). This might have been the best $15.00 we’ve spent in a while. Kelly is both creative and passionate about the drinks she mixes. Like a chemist in a lab, she carefully watches over every ingredient including her homemade bitters – really, who makes their own bitters?  You have to respect bartenders who will frequently poke a clean sample straw into the drink before serving it in order to ensure that the cocktail is perfect.

Our dinner started off with two well-prepared salads – Local Field Greens (Fuji apple, goat cheese, dried cranberries, almonds, and a honey – citrus vinaigrette) and a Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad (Belgian endive, Bartlett pear, candied pistachios, goat cheese and white balsamic). Texturally, the tenderness of the fresh greens, the crispness of the apple or pear, the crunch of the nuts and the tanginess of the goat cheese set the tone for the next noteworthy starter.  The Butternut Squash Bisque may have been worth the trip alone! On a cold evening in January, we couldn’t have chosen more appropriately. A velvety-smooth, rich and flavorful squash bisque finished with a light walnut oil and garnished with delicately fried onion straws. This savory bisque may keep me returning to Avenue N throughout the entire squash season!

When we asked for menu recommendations, our waitress was quick to suggest the Braised Beef Short Rib or the Sugar Pumpkin Ravioli. Upon her recommendations, we ordered them both. In addition, we chose the New Bedford Cod and Cider Brined Pork Chop entrees.

The Braised Beef Short Rib is always a good choice because like a Veal Osso Buco, or any other tougher cut of meat with marbling, the flavor is developed through the braising process where moist slow cooking melts the fat, tenderizes the meat and allows it to fully absorb the cooking liquids. The results are generally fork tender goodness. This dish was served in a Cabernet reduction with horseradish mashed potatoes and haricot vert. It was expertly prepared and presented.

The impressive Sugar Pumpkin Ravioli entrée was served with Swiss chard, pine nuts, pearl onions, roasted tomatoes in a Pecorino Broth. Homemade pasta makes a significant difference in the overall quality of a dish because the texture and taste is noticeably more pleasing.  The hints of nutmeg within the pumpkin filling really helped bring out the seasonal freshness of the dish.

The Cider Brined Pork Chop was an absolute winner. Brining is an excellent method for maintaining the moisture and flavor within pork.  Served with a parsnip puree, dates, chopped bacon, chanterelle mushrooms in a sherry-rosemary jus, Chef Rabar’s efforts paid off with this enviable entrée.

Although I saved a clean fork, I did not poke it into the New Bedford Cod. It was served with beluga lentils, acorn squash, chourico, and wild arugula in dijon butter. Our friend reported that it was quite good.

Maybe ignorance is bliss, but without any preconceived expectations, we walked into Avenue N American Kitchen last weekend for dinner and were treated like welcomed guests in a warm atmosphere, where the food was perfectly prepared, creatively inspired and richly developed in flavor.  It’s not for me to determine whether a chef’s culinary history is an indication of future performance, it’s only for me to determine whether my dining experience was memorable one!

Avenue N American Kitchen – 20 Newman Avenue Rumford, Rhode Island 401.270.2836

The price point at Avenue N for a couple ordering drinks, appetizers, entrees, coffee and desserts is approximately $85 -$ 100 including tip.