Julian’s Providence

Scott and Dave’s Breakfast on Broadway!

On a weekend day that beckons you outdoors to enjoy the terrific spring weather, there is nothing like a great breakfast to start off the day. Recently the RhodeCrew has been venturing out of our quaint little towns and heading downtown for some eclectic breakfast fare.  On my way to a restaurant in Providence a few weeks ago I couldn’t help but notice what looked like a line for Springsteen tickets (back in the 80’s) forming around an unpretentious store front on Broadway. There weren’t any large signs that distinguished this place aside from two red neon lit “J”s on the left and right sides of the front windows – welcome to Julian’s.

Julian’s Providence is no stranger to the Providence culinary scene as evidenced by their wall of accolades in the back of the dining area.  At Fork in the Rhode we try very hard to find “off the beaten path” places, and at times it can be challenging in our small state. Sometimes we go against our mission statement and review a place that despite its popularity is too tempting to pass up!

Breakfast this morning was a memorable experience. We went right for the bar so we could see all the action in this open kitchen establishment. Having a super-friendly waitperson like Sam was an extra-special treat. We truly appreciated how very engaging, knowledgeable and passionate he was about Julian’s. Having a proud restaurant staff is one of the keys to the success of the business. When going to a new restaurant, we make every effort to request the “Signature” dish or at least one of the house specialties, and if we wind up just an “order taker,” it really takes away from our experience.  We know it’s only a meal, but we like to get pumped up and excited about the incoming, unique gastronomical encounter!  Sam was quite an ambassador for our first Julian’s experience – and we felt fortunate.

Breakfast for Scott today was from the daily Special’s Board – Chipotle Honey-Grilled Shrimp Benedict with baby spinach, smoked onions over warm cornbread with a scallion hollandaise.  Accompanying this dish was a side of Beer Bratwurst Hash which included white beans, Swiss cheese and caramelized onions. The unique spice profile of the shrimp was so unique that I had to reluctantly share them with another RhodeCrew member because flavors this good must be communal. The poached eggs were cooked perfectly, and it was such a nice change to have it served on a bed of fresh-baked cornbread instead of the usual English muffin. This hash was also another unique treat that we doubt you will find anywhere else.

“We smoke our own salmon,” Sam said, as David ordered the Nova Scotia Benedict faster than you could say “lox.” This beautifully smoked and sliced happiness was carefully laid out across freshly thick-cut Italian bread and topped with two perfectly poached eggs with a smooth and creamy hollandaise blanketing it all. Although a plain potato hash accompanies breakfast, he chose the Bleu Cheese-Spinach specialty hash from the menu. The chef starts with the traditional grilled hash and incorporates the specialty ingredients before browning it on all sides. What a winner of a breakfast this turned out to be!

As we watched unique flights of draft beer being ordered with breakfast, we felt a little left out – so we ordered one (yes it was 9:00 AM…don’t judge). On the recommendation of Sam, our flight included the following:

  1.  Saison Dupont (Belgium), a dry blond beer, with aromas of hops, marked bitterness and a bit flowery in taste. Alcohol content: 6.5% vol.
  2.  B.B.C. Imperial Stout (MA), a rich, smooth and creamy malt stout with hints of chocolate, licorice and coffee. Alcohol content: 8.5% vol.
  3.  Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse (Germany), a deep gold dry hopped Weissbock with a light and sweet aroma. The taste was very smooth with hints of citrus, wheat, and fruit.  Alcohol content: 8.2% vol.
  4.  Hofstetten Saphir Bock (Austria), a cloudy golden-yellow dry-hopped beer with a smooth malt flavor. Slight hints of lemon. Alcohol content: 7.4% vol. 

Julian’s offers 20+ globetrotting drafts (Belgium, U.S., Japan, UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, Scotland, Austria and Norway) from which to sample. In addition their extensive bottled beer, wine and other spirits menu is worthy of your interest.   

It has been said that Julian’s Providence is a Hipster hang-out. The RhodeCrew assigned to this restaurant was curious what that meant exactly, so we looked it up:

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. 

Our response – we wished we hadn’t wasted our time looking it up! If you are in a “subculture” of eaters seeking out a great food and drinks in a very cool looking restaurant with an attentive and educated staff, get over to Julian’s Providence as soon as entirely possible.

We’re not kidding get your shoes on…..we’ll start the car!

  Julian’s Providence 318 Broadway Providence, RI (401) 861- 1770

AJ’s Restaurant

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Scott’s Review–

I am going to be honest with you. I recommended that the RhodeCrew should review this place. It just goes to show you how a “find” can be right under your nose, and if you’re not one to try restaurants off the beaten path, treasures like AJ’s can be missed. I think one of the reason’s I hesitated for so long in stopping by AJ’s was its location. It is kind of in an area where many vacant store fronts currently reside – the patch of Main Street between the “strip” in downtown West Warwick and Route 117.

Freshly baked muffins! Freshly baked “anything” for that matter, has me at first bite. Once you walk into AJ’s for breakfast, you will feel like you are at the epicenter for breakfast in West Warwick. Recently I have been attracted by anything pistachio. When I learned of their pistachio muffins, I went nuts. There’s nothing like the taste of a freshly baked & then grilled muffin in the morning…it tastes like….victory??

Anyway, here is what gets my orange juices flowing in the morning….grilled, I repeat, GRILLED home fries. If I walk into a breakfast joint and their home fries are deep fried, it’s a deal killer. The grilled home fry is a work of art and in certain areas in the country, they are about to be added to the endangered species list. This is why I love those Jersey diners…you never know what kind of grilled home fry concoction you’ll be served –but it will be good and grilled. AJ’s does a great job of preserving the art of the home fry. Slap on some ketchup and if that is all I eat for breakfast, I am content. Doing the low-carb thing? Great, hand over your home fries and enjoy your plain egg whites!

Lately, I have been real picky about my omelet’s color. I prefer my omelets yellow as in “scrambled egg” yellow. I don’t like it when an omelet shows up on my plate like it didn’t put on any sunscreen after a hot sunny day at Scarborough Beach. I requested my omelet “yellow” and it showed up yellow.

Poached eggs – here’s another deal killer. If you fork a poached egg whether it is Benedict or solo, there better be a lava flow of yolk immediately following. AJ’s has consistently nailed this often overlooked detail on poached eggs.

AJ’s employs the team approach in serving you. You may be initially served by one waitress but by the end of the meal, almost every waitress will have made it over to your table with one thing or the other. I will warn you…they will drown you in fresh brewed coffee. I ha d to eventually put the jelly tray on top of my coffee cup to let them know I didn’t need a refill after attempt #5!

David’s Review–

AJ’s Restaurant is an example of what every town needs…a local breakfast joint where the menu is as straightforward and unpretentious as its staff.  I had a feeling this might be a special place when I first walked into a busy AJ’s for breakfast one morning and could tell that the only person who had not been there before was me!  If this revelation should ever strike you upon entering a new restaurant, do not fear the unknown, but embrace the journey for which you are about to embark.

The standout menu items were the freshly baked selections from within the glass case at the counter.  Scott was right on the money about the muffins. We had pistachio, corn and blueberry which were all hot, moist, light and excellent. Believe me, corn muffins are easy to make badly, and if you happen to violate the golden rule of serving bakery the same day, corn muffins can be a downright danger if they get lodged in your throat without proper ventilation and irrigation.

In addition to the muffin appetizer was my order of eggs Benedict.  Getting poached eggs cooked properly is a challenge for even the best restaurants, and always a gamble to order when dining with others because if the yolks are served hard-cooked, your friends will be done eating by the time the kitchen has rectified the order.  Well, fear not fellow diners, AJ’s served perfectly cooked poached eggs! The Hollandaise sauce could have used a bit more lemon and seasoning but was still buttery and good.  The potatoes were grilled perfectly, but also could have used some salt, pepper and onion.

My experience at AJ’s was a good one and I’m thrilled to have found a new breakfast place worth revisiting. I think we all need a place where “everybody knows our name.”

AJ’s Restaurant 1365 Main Street West Warwick, RI 02893 (401) 828-4160