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 Fortune House 合顺源

David’s Review

Fortune House - Chicken and Shrimp

Okay I’ll admit it, my Achilles’ heel has always been, and may always be –Asian cuisine.  I haven’t even moderately tired of it since childhood. It may have been the lure of the mysteriously dark Polynesian themed restaurants of the 1970’s with all the unfamiliar and glorious aromas wafting under my nose, or the brightly colored entrees and half-moon shaped rice mounds all served neatly under the “stainless steel dome.” Although it was the Western or American Chinese cuisine that initially hooked me, it’s the authentic and more contemporary styles of Asian cookery that feeds my passion.

Fortune House - Wall Art

The American Chinese cuisine is a style of cooking that modifies or adapts authentic Chinese cuisine into dishes more acceptable to the American palate. Why? In the early 19th century the Chinese were excluded from most U.S. jobs in the wage economy by racial discrimination or lack of language fluency. In order to culturally assimilate, the Chinese established their own businesses with products and services that catered to American Society while remaining mindful of their origins. It was genius.

The Fortune House  in Cumberland, RI is a prime example of an Asian Restaurant that respects the  delicate balance of American and Asian cuisine and is amenable to change as the dining public tastes evolve.

Fortune House

Dispensed is the utilitarian tableware and replaced with decorative serving dishes, cast iron tea pots and earthenware table accessories. The menu attempts to focus attention away from heavy sauces and deep-fried entrees by offering flavorful, healthful and creative alternatives. The entrees at The Fortune House lean more towards an authentic Chinese philosophy in cookery  – proteins (i.e. chicken, beef, shrimp) enhance a dish rather than overshadow it.

Poor Zuo Zongtang (1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan whose namesake -General Tsao’s Chicken – is served all over the U.S.  He would have  rolled over in his grave if he knew how he was being memorialized (fried chicken with goopy sweet sauce).  In his defense, the Fortune House does make the dish pretty well!

Fortune House - Chinese Broccoli

One of the most overlooked benefits of the Fortune House is the exceptional value that diners are offered in comparison to the care, complexity and freshness of what is being served. The vegetables are always perfectly blanched to preserve their vibrant color. The proteins are succulent and fresh tasting, and the sauces are light and flavorful. The food is not overly salted and never bathing in the oil from the wok from whence it came.

Fortune House - Tempura

Additionally, Fortune House offers several noteworthy starters that are delicately fried in a light batter; Shrimp, Vegetarian or a Combo Tempura. Their Scallion Pancake is worth the trip alone!

The Fortune House Restaurant  is a spotlessly clean restaurant with restrooms cleaner than the ones in my own home. The ventilation system within the kitchen and the dining room must work efficiently because upon return to the office, my clothes never smell like the lunch I just ate.

Just like you, I too have my local favorite where everybody knows my name. It is the place where I feel most genuinely welcome and consider it to be my restaurant home. Fortune House just makes me happy, and if I had hair, I could let it down there – figuratively!



Fortune House Restaurant  1800 Mendon Road, Cumberland, RI 02864  Tel: 401-333-9976