The American

One of Rhode Island’s many 19th century contributions to the 2nd Industrial Revolution was a steam locomotive manufacturing company located in Providence. Historically, Rhode Island Locomotive Works produced more than 3,400 locomotives between 1867 and 1906.

The American - Providence

The American – Providence

It is within the walls of this impressively restored building that the Adirondack Restaurant Group has opened their third restaurant. The American embraces the history of its location by meticulously preserving some of her artifacts, and artfully incorporating them into the woodwork.

Our visit to The American was a happenstance. While on a break from a class we were attending in the same building, the lunch whistle sounded loudly on Valley Street, and curiosity got the better of us.

The Steakhouse

The Steakhouse

The aristocratic atmosphere inside The American is delivered to diners with a few significant exceptions;   the staff is warm and welcoming, and the lunch, dinner and drink menus are far from being pretentious. In addition to several daily specials, a mixture of classically named burgers, salads and clubs are available.

We ordered The Steakhouse salad (filet tips marinated and grilled over mixed field greens, crispy bacon, hard-boiled egg, gorgonzola cheese, and poppy-seed vinaigrette). The steak was perfectly grilled to the requested temperature and full flavored. The salad was slightly overdressed, but its components were fresh and delicious!

The Stanford

The Stanford

On the recommendation of our waiter, we ordered The Stanford (marinated blackened chicken breast topped with Wisconsin Cheddar, lettuce, beefsteak tomato – served on a fresh-baked sourdough roll with a homemade Cajun mayonnaise).  Although the slightly over-grilled chicken breast could have been disappointing, it was aggressively seasoned the way a piece of chicken should be! The ripened tomato and spicy Cajun mayo added the needed moisture, taste and heat to make my mouth hum!  Additionally, the sandwich arrived with homemade tater-tots! In the past, I’ve overpaid for poorly executed and previously frozen tater-tots with truffle oil.  Thankfully The American cares enough to shred fresh potatoes and perfectly fry them into something worthy of remembering.

American Bacon Burger

American Bacon Burger

It should come as no surprise that since The Abbey , a sister restaurant to The American which specializes in innovative burgers, also does a fine job in serving the same. Our Roosevelt with bacon and Wisconsin cheddar, served on homemade toasted bread was a noteworthy standout.

The American Bar

The American Bar

About two hours later, as our class was letting out, we headed back into The American to belly up to the bar for a couple of beers. We couldn’t resist an opportunity to make another appearance in a place where we felt so comfortable.

Train Light - The American

Train Light – The American

Many of the wealthy and powerful 19th-century American Industrialists (aka robber barons) such as Cornelius Vanderbilt,  J. P. Morgan,  Jay Gould and John D. Rockefeller adorn the walls of The American as if to keep  watchful eyes on the place.  I wondered if they would have approved having spent an afternoon at The American, and then it came to me … who really gives a damn.

All Aboard!

The American 311 Iron Horse Way Providence, RI 401-865-6186

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Oak St. B&B

Scott’s Review

The Oak Burger

The Oak Burger

Hey Westerly, we packed a change of clothes and made the journey south! We know…it’s about  time.

Oak St. B & BNot Bed and Breakfast…Burgers and Breakfast” was originally a participant in our Top 10 New York System Weiner Challenge, and we knew at the time that a return visit was a necessity.

We had to sample at least one of their specialties, and today it was their burgers and fresh-cut “Oak Chips,” which are already lovingly known in the Westerly Community.  It appears that Oak St. B & B  burgers have already won some “Best Of” accolades in the past. This converted Gambrel Cape sits modestly on the corner of Oak and Tower Streets – just off the tourist radar.

We ordered the classic Oak Burger (American cheese, pickles and Oak Sauce) and it was delicious. The sweet Portuguese roll, the Oak sauce and the grilled onions really put some distance between this burger as compared to many other so-called “best burger” joints around the Northeast.

It wasn’t an enormous burger, and I liked the manageability from first to last bite. There was no need to hose down my hands afterwards! If we had one minor suggestion, I would be a grilled roll. The originality of the burger menu is one that encourages repeat visits because of the curiosity factor; The Buffalo Bleu, The Popper, The HCL Burger (with ghost chili sauce),  The Fun Guy, and The Elvis (yes, peanut butter and bacon!) to name a few.

We applaud the side of fresh-cut potato chips.  Fabulous, and with names like Naked, Dressed, Smoked and S’oaked, we felt like the meal should be eaten in private!  The Buckhead Diner in Atlanta serves house-made chips with a Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing. We would love to see that show up on the menu because Oak St. B & B chips were better! You can even call them “Singing the Blues!”

And the pièce de résistance, the staff is friendly, attentive, and very accommodating.  It made the whole experience a true “Fork in the Rhode“.  Stop by early and eat breakfast, walk it off, and get back there for in time for lunch – let us know if there is a Swift sighting…..

Oak St. B & B | 87 Oak St | Westerly, RI 02891| 401-315-2520

2012 Top 10 New York System Weiner Challenge

Rhode Island's Beloved NY System!

Let’s just proclaim, “No two wieners are the same” (insert joke here!), therefore, no two NY Systems are the same. The components must include a weiner, meat sauce, onions, mustard, celery salt and a bun. It’s the preparation and care of ingredients that create the real NY System. Last year I wrote that the one bite taste represents the sum of all components coming together, and I still believe that to be true this year.

Since all tastes vary from judge to judge, the best way to consider NY System excellence is to first consider the quality of the components:

The meat sauce might be the single greatest component that keeps customers returning day after day. Variations in recipes, spices, simmering time, consistency and heat can be most appealing for some, while others might favor the weiner quality, taste, snap and grill time above all.

Chopped onions are a tricky component because freshness is an absolute necessity. When onions are old, they turn yellow, taste bitter and smell overly strong. Old onions can overpower the taste and overshadow all the other ingredients. Fresh onions that are finely chopped allow for a balanced texture and a welcomed flavor enhancement.

Classic yellow mustard is generally expected on the NY System. Yellow mustard is the ugly stepchild in the mustard family lineage, and a shirt-stain at best. Spicy mustard considerably enhances the flavor; however, I do understand tradition and gladly accepted whichever mustard was used.

Buns should be freshly steamed, but some establishments lack a proper steamer and may resort to using a microwave, or some other method of non-moist bun warming. Personally, steaming buns makes the NY System experience a greater success. Microwaves heat unevenly and often harden bread ends. Traditional ovens dry out the buns and suggest a stale product.

Celery-salt is standard spice that is applied to the system as a final condiment. Depending upon where on the “arm” the NY System is being dressed, the final product might be over or under in the sodium department.

In the spirit of trying to maintain objective standards while judging wieners with mouthfuls of subjectivity, Fork in the Rhode’s RhodeCrew and forty-eight additional judges visited 50 restaurants statewide with judging sheets in hand.

The following are the 10 locations that maintained the highest overall scores in standard categories (Appearance, Steamed Bun, Weiner Texture, Meat Sauce, Onions, and Overall One-Bite taste):

In Alphabetic Order   

Restaurant Street City
Ben’s Chili Dogs 158 Broadway Newport
Cosmic Steak, Pizza & Weiners 1141 Post Rd Warwick Warwick
Ferrucci’s Original New York System  1246 Main Street, Arctic West Warwick
Nick’s New York System 280 Cowessett Ave West Warwick
Olneyville N.Y. System 18 Plainfield Street Providence
Rod’s Grill  6 Washington Street Warren
Sam’s New York System 6 Freeborn Street /Sandy Lane Warwick
Santoro’s Pizza 687 Tiogue Ave Coventry
Timmy’s Restaurant 644 W Shore Rd Warwick
Wein-O-Rama 1009 Oaklawn Avenue Cranston

Feel free to sample and judge NY System Wieners in all of the following locations as we did. Again, we “double-dog-dare” you!

Restaurant Street City
Athens Pizza House 1 Austin Ave Greenville
Barbara’s Place 77 North Main St. Woonsocket
Bucci’s Café 37 Main Street Lincoln
Chepachet Deli 842 Putnam Pike Chepachet
Connie and Nikki’s 526 Pawtucket Ave. Pawtucket
Dot’s Dairy Bar & Grille 1476 Newport Ave Pawtucket
George’s Grill New York System 716 Reservoir Avenue Cranston
George’s Pizza ‘N Pub 60 Pascoag Main St Burrillville
Indigo Pizza Lounge 599 Tiogue Ave Coventry
Jesse’s N.Y. System 710 Main Street West Warwick
John’s New York System 827 Park Ave. Cranston
John’s New York Systems 326 Cranston Street Providence
Kingston Pizza 1283 Kingstown Road Peacedale
Kip’s Restaurant 826 Newport Ave Pawtucket
Liberty Lunch 732 Central Ave Pawtucket
Little Rhody Brand Frankfurts 5 Day Street Johnston
Lumber-Jacks-Pizza ‘n Wieners Main St. and Victory Hwy N. Smithfield
M & M New York System 361 Waterman Ave East Providence
Moonlight House of Weiners 32 Rathburn Street Woonsocket
New York Lunch 8 Main St Woonsocket
North Kingstown House of Pizza 6170 Post Rd N. Kingstown
Oak St. B&B 87 Oak Street Westerly
Oatley’s Family Restaurant 171 Ten Rod Road North Kingstown
Original New York System 424 Smith Street Providence
Papa John’s New York Systems 326 Cranston Street Providence
Peter’s Coney Island System 2298 West Shore Rd. Warwick
Plouffe’s Cup n Saucer 267 Main St Pawtucket
Poppy’s Family Restaurant 3344 Mendon Road Cumberland
Quick Rick’s 58 High St Wakefield
Right Spot Diner 200 South Bend St. Pawtucket
Riverside Kitchen 467 Willett Ave East Providence
Royal Lunch 1179 Westminster St Providence
Sam’s New York System 1031 Mineral Spring Ave N. Providence
Silver Lake Pizza 1146 Main Street Coventry
Snoopy’s Diner 4001 Quaker Lane N. Kingstown
Sparkys’ 548 Dexter St. Central Falls
Sparky’s Coney Island System 122 Taunton Avenue East Providence
Stykee’s New York System 1617 Elmwood Avenue Cranston
Taso’s N.Y. System 1500 Atwood Avenue Johnston
Weiner Genie 80 Higginson Avenue Lincoln

Note: On behalf of the RhodeCrew, we would like to offer our sincerest thanks to the volunteer judges who helped make the 2012 NY System Weiner Challenge a success!

Jack A, John A, Rich B, Mathew B, Richard B, Scott, F, Beth F, Jordan F, Ed M, Eddy M, Peter M,  Dave B, Jimmy B, Gary B, Mary B, Jim D, Rich E, Andy G, Chris D, Mark H, Johanna H, Don L, Tammy L, Julie M, Vinny L, Michelle M, Lou M, Lou M Jr., Erik, M, Mark O, Liz O, Vinny O, Todd O, Annie O, Amanda P, Jeni P, Krysten R, Justin R, Manny S, David T, Rob T, Bill G, Steven T.