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.

O Dinis Restaurant

Scott and Dave’s Review

Did you know that the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (defeated ballot amendment!) holds the distinct honor of maintaining the highest percentage of Portuguese population in the country? From a culinary prospective, that’s a huge advantage.  Our little state is an ethnic restaurant powerhouse in the Portuguese arena.

The Rhode Crew was fortunate to be joined by our friends Rose and Judy for this meal. Both sisters are first generation Portuguese Americans and had recommended O Dinis for our review. Once Rose and Judy began ordering for us, we just sat back, tucked in a napkin and let the adventure unfold. For those of you who are without Portuguese friends to help navigate your culinary waters, it about time you started looking!

Here’s our recommendation, add O Dinis to your short list of places to eat! O what a find!  The sauces alone are worthy of a stand-alone entrée with a side of fresh Portuguese rolls for dipping. Let’s get right into some of our favorites:

Bacalhau na Brasa ($14.95) Grilled salted Cod with boiled potatoes topped with garlic and onions sautéed in olive oil. The fish texture was smooth, white, firm and perfectly executed.  This is an excellent menu choice that must not be overlooked.

Carne de Porco à Alentejana ($13.95) – Marinated Pork and fried potatoes with steamed Littlenecks. This was a great dish. You can’t go wrong with the ingredients: marinated pork, potatoes, littlenecks, whole olives and roasted peppers. There was no skimping on the marinated pork as the picture will attest. Everything worked well together. We’ll admit that our experience with this dish is limited and believe that the correct tenderness of the pork could have been a touch more tender. Still, this dish was very good and a great value for under $15.

Espetada de Camarão e Lulas ($13.95) – Grilled Shrimp, Squid and perfectly charred peppers on a Kabob. Ours came with sliced squid – instead of rings, the squid pieces were the ends of the squid tube –obviously much easier to skewer! This was all served over a bed of rice in the phenomenal shrimp sauce (a light red, garlic and lemon concoction). Everything was tender and not overcooked. Watch out for those shoestring fries, they’re very addicting!

Bife à Casa ($13.95) – Pan-Seared Sirloin steak in a beer and garlic sauce served with French fries, an egg and rice. Our only issue with this dish was that we had to share. There’s only so much egg you can savor with steak when you’re sharing with 5 people. Regardless, we were very impressed with the portion size and the thickness of the steak. It had to be greater than a half inch in thickness and the tenderness was perfect.  We have had quite a few ethnic steak dishes priced around the $10-$15 range and most were ¼ to 1/3” in thickness and usually on the well-done side. The brown sauce was a great compliment to the dish, only enhancing the elements and not overwhelming the main attraction.

We ordered a superb Portuguese red wine – Quinta de Cabriz – Dão ($16.00) which was well balanced, full fruit, and aromatic. A escolha perfeita para acompanhar o nosso almoço (The perfect choice to accompany our lunch)!

Our waitress Isabel (Queen Isabel – as she requested we address her) advised us that all the desserts on the menu were terrific, and judging by what we ordered, the “Queen” may have been right all along. The Bolo De Bolacha (Portuguese Cookie Cake) which included Maria Brand Biscuits, butter, sugar, coffee all baked into a very delicious dessert choice. Additionally we ordered Queijadas de Feijao (Portuguese Bean Tarts) which were absolutely a favorite.  This pie was sweet, dense, and rich with hints of caramel throughout.

This was a great dining experience right down to the very friendly and engaging team of waitresses. O Dinis has that down-home authenticity and atmosphere one would expect from our state’s diverse, ethnic culinary treasures. For those of you that are not Portuguese and are unfamiliar with the cuisine don’t hesitate to try this jewel. For those of you who are Portuguese; “bravo, muito bem!”

579 Warren Avenue
East Providence, RI 02914-2816
(401) 438-3769