The Duck & Bunny – A Snuggery

Scott’s Review

(Snŭg’ə-rē) n. a cosy and comfortable place

DB LogoThe Duck and Bunny was a fun review because I always enjoy going to Wickenden Street. The Coffee Exchange is probably one of the few places that I regularly gravitate towards, and I’m pumped that I’ve found another one! If you’re familiar with the East Side, you’re aware of the many great restaurants for which to choose. I’m not sure how the Duck and Bunny came onto my food-hunting radar, but I’m glad it did.

As with much of the Wickenden Street landscape, the buildings are older and historic. The area was home to a large Portuguese-American community starting in the 19th century, and as a result, some of the homes on the Street are still painted pastel colors in the Portuguese style.

Duck and Bunny Entrance

Duck and Bunny Entrance

The pink colored Duck and Bunny restaurant was impressively interesting inside and out. The interior layout and furnishings could be best described by imagining if a Victorian Martha Stewart attending Brown University had opened up a snuggery to expose all of her “good things”!   This is one cute place, or maybe romantic is the better adjective. I am glad we hadn’t read any prior press before going because we like the surprise. Open minds and big appetites are the general criteria!

We arrived on a weekend afternoon where brunch menu is offered. As you may be aware, ForkintheRhode publishes an annual New York System Weiner Challenge where we rate Rhode Island’s Top 10 Weiner joints. So when we came upon 2 menu items, the “New York System Hot Weiner Omelette” and the “Ultimate New York System Crêpe”, we knew that ordering it was fait accompli. The other two dishes were the Eggs Benedict on a Potato Pancake (multiple variations) and Portuguese French Toast with Bananas.

The Ultimate New York System Hot Wiener Omelette

The Ultimate New York System Hot Wiener Omelette

The Ultimate New York System Omelette was exactly like what you would expect: homemade meat sauce, chopped onion, yellow mustard, and, of course, celery salt. It tasted just as a New York System should taste – but in an omelet! My only concern is that I’m so familiar with that unique taste after 9 PM with a beer or two on-board; the whole experience was slightly surreal! Regardless, this was a surprisingly respectful “nod” to a Rhode Island favorite.

Poached and Ham  - DB

Latkes Eggs Benny

The Latkes Eggs Benny we ordered  included Black Forest ham over a potato pancake with two poached eggs on top. We chose to have the Hollandaise sauce on the side. As with all Eggs Benedict  I prefer the yoke running like a fresh volcanic lava stream. The slice of ham was good; the eggs were perfectly poached and the potato pancake was scratch-made. My only suggestion would have been that the potato pancake be at least the size of the English muffin. I like to enjoy a little poached egg, ham and muffin (in this case – potato pancake) in every bite. We were however, so thrilled by having Eggs Benedict on a potato pancake that we forget to use the Hollandaise sauce. We’ll catch it next time.

The last item we ordered was the Portuguese French toast (local sweet bread dipped in cinnamon with maple berry compote or bananas foster with pecans). You can’t beat Portuguese sweetbread for French toast (or Challah bread French toast for that matter) and the taste was both divine and heavenly (by the way, what guy uses words like divine and heavenly?). When I order it next time I’m going to ask for the whip cream to be put on the side. Whether it was the heat lamp from the kitchen or most likely the heat from the entrée, the whip cream arrived mostly melted.

The tea selection delivered in pots versus tea bags is as varied as it is adventurous. Gourmet cupcakes like Banana Nutella, Guinness Cake, Portuguese Sweetbread Pudding and Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel grace the menu begging for a tea accompaniment.

We extend our sincere thanks to the Duck and Bunny proprietors for gracefully excluding both a duck and/or bunny crêpes from the menu. In certain restaurants, it might be a winner, but at the Duck and Bunny – the smoked salmon may be a less horrifying thought!

This is a great East Side spot to unwind and indulge. We know the RhodeCrew was just scraping the surface of all the pleasures this little restaurant has to offer. The Duck and Bunny is a place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Grab a good friend, a good book or both – tuck in and find your serenity!

312 Wickenden Street Providence, RI 02903 (401) 270-3300

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Dave’s Bar & Grill

Don’s Review – Spirits in the Rhode

Sixty micros on tap! Where? At Dave’s Bar & Grill on Post Road in Warwick, that’s where.

We were looking to try something from Stone Brewing Co., and discovered that Dave’s Bar & Grill had the goods. We were pleasantly surprised by the diverse offering of micros that Dave’s has on tap which included some terrific selections from all over the country.  Stone Brewing Co., out of Escondido, is the largest brewery in Southern California. They have been awarded Beer Advocate’s “Best Brewery All Time Ever” award twice, so this must be some serious stuff!

Mike, who was bartending when we arrived at Dave’s Bar & Grill, happily gave us a rundown of the three varieties of Stone on tap. First up was the Levitation Ale. This beer had a subtly sweet floral aroma and upfront taste, with a mild hoppy bite that finished crisp. Although malty, it was well-balanced, with hints of citrus. Very nice, and at 4.4% ABV, you could drink this one all evening.

Next up was the Arrogant Bastard Ale which Stone writes, “This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it!” However, it was delicious and not surprising, this is one of Stone’s more popular beers (Be careful with this one at 7.2% ABV, it will sneak up on you!).

Rounding out the trio of Stone beers, we tried the Russian Imperial Stout . This one is a monster! It’s sweet and malty with the aroma of coffee, and has a somewhat syrupy consistency. At 10.5% ABV, you can definitely taste the alcohol, and it’ll warm your bones on a chilly pre-Spring evening! If you are a stout lover, give this a shot.

After thoroughly enjoying each elixir by Stone, and mesmerized by all these taps of beer, we figured we would each do a “flight”- which is a sampling of your choice of 4 beers served in 4 oz. glasses housed in a cool little wooden rack. Working the bar now was Josh, originally hails from Minnesota (don’t ya know) but is now a full-fledged Rhode Islanda (as evidenced by his wicked forearm Anchor tattoo). He highly recommended the Triple Black IPA 8.7%ABV by Victory Glory, and man was he was right. This micro rocked. It was malty, spicy and very well-balanced – an excellent example of this very popular style of beer.

Another impressive beer was the Double Mocha Porter  8.2%ABV by Rogue. I’ve been really diggin’ coffee beers this year! The chocolate really comes through on this one.

Dave’s Bar & Grill is a score. Their beer selection is an international adventure, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the craft micro menu is reasonably priced. Most micros are $5/pint and a flight is $6.50. Check ‘em out!

Dave’s Bar & Grill 2339 Post Rd. Warwick, RI 02886 401-739-7444

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.