Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Lost Weekend, Part I

Greetings readers! What a week it has been, with lots to report and many meals to dissect. But before I begin, I feel contractually obligated to share that our newest post comes at the beginning of Maine Restaurant Week, which I’m totally excited about! Already three days into the great event, the twice annual Restaurant Week lets Maine restaurants highlight what they do in a typically 3 course pre-fix menu and affords food lovers the rare opportunity to experience new places and dine and enjoy. Their website,, is loaded with useful information and gives a full list of restaurants participating, including my faves Cinque Terra and The Corner Room Kitchen and Bar in Portland!

Maine Restaurant Week
March 1- 12 2011

Traditional 3 course, pre-selected menu at a decent price!
Go out and have a new food adventure.

So since I’ve given Maine Restaurant Week some love, let’s turn now to my recent trip to Mystic, Connecticut and Providence RI. As some of you readers may remember, Mystic was the site of my first posting and the quaint town still holds a certain cranny in my heart. Visiting a college roommate and close friend is never a bad idea either. The weekend flew by and with it I grabbed some great material for the blog!

The first restaurant on deck, however, doesn’t reside in the famous land of pizza and movies about pizza, but rather in Providence RI and on the storied, collegiate Thayer Street. With my friend in tow, I was very excited to visit the same street I spent so many afternoons escaping the Wheaton College grind. Thayer Street is Brown University’s answer to Harvard Square and it has a similar vibe, notorious for its hip restaurant and the hole in the wall clothing stores. I love it here! While wandering about we stumbled on a new sushi place. The obvious choice was, then, to step inside and check it out. And just so you know, Shark Restaurant ended up being fantastic.

Shark Restaurant
275 Thayer Street
Providence, RI 02906

The Novice Fork gives this place
4 Forks for delicious sushi,
sexy atmosphere and great location

The outside of Shark Restaurant, full of Providence cool.

This restaurant has it all. A selective and easy to navigate sushi menu, a Hibachi grill, great music, full bar, and a stunning fish tank with a resident pet shark keeping a firm watch over his diners. We arrived without a reservation and for a Saturday night this can be tricky, but we were seated right away and were enjoying that tasty Japanese beer Sapporo within minutes.

For dinner I settled on the “Shark Delux” a sampler of 9 pieces of nigiri-sushi (fish over rice) and two different maki rolls. Served with a miso soup and an Asian inspired salad, the price isn’t cheap, at $24 bucks, but with all that food, and a beer, I was filled to the brim and happy. My friend got a similar combo platter of sushi and I only got rave reviews on his side of the table. (Thumbs up!)

The waitress we had was also great. With the entire restaurant inundated with guests and a mere several inches with which to move from table to cramped table, she was speedy, kind and attentive, always ready with water or a eel dipping sauce. (A general tip about dining out: Tell your server that you’ll be writing a review on that restaurant, your service will be on point… sneaky but it never fails). Overall, the experience was great, the sushi was great and you should eat there.  

But what happens when you want the good times to continue in Providence, the land of red clam chowder and Federal Hill Italian food and cultural district? Since I had no readily discernable answer, my friend and I decided to drive a bit and find a classy but laidback watering hole to continue the night. (In an attempt to become the cast of The Hangover, naturally.) After a parking search, we settled on Local 121. Again, this was a smart move.
Local 121
121 Washington Street
Providence RI, 02903

The Novice Fork gives this local food spot
4 Forks for its beautiful bar, hip clientele
and attention to local food sourcing

Local 121, love the stained glass!

This place is beautiful. That’s the first thing you think when you walk into this large restaurant and cozy, wood paneled and fully stocked bar. The second thing you notice is that much of their food and drink selection comes from locally sourced vendors. Be it the beets on the spinach salad or the beer from a brewery down the road, the focus here is LOCAL, plain and simple. This is really cool because while I assume a city the size of Providence would have restaurants like this, it’s nice to see them in practice.

Unfortunately, I was still too stuffed from my sushi mere minutes before to even think about food, but the drinks, I can say, were top notch. I devoured two of my favorite Greyhounds (Grapefruit Juice and Vodka) and amazingly enough they were made with fresh grapefruit juice. My friend tried a local and organic beer, which got a resounding thumbs up.) And the prices were right, with my Greyhounds costing around $6 each and $5 for the pint of beer. (Not too shabby.)

At around 11 pm, this sleepy and upscale bar/restaurant turns into a wild, Urban Outfitters type dance extravaganza, where girls in stylish dresses and guys with ironic mustaches and glasses danced to a mash up of pop and electronica. Wild time. The dance floor was very small, but if you don’t mind bumping into a few people while shaking it to “Bille Jean” then go for it. It was a pretty fun and random way to top off the night.

Thank you Local 121 and Shark Restaurant for giving me a great night in Providence, RI, I’ll be back, so get the sushi and Grapefruit juice ready. And there you have it, part one in a two part review on my “Lost Weekend” to providence RI and Mystic, CT. I hope you enjoyed!  

Words for the day? As always, why do I ask this question every time? Not sure, so I’ll continue….

Since Maine Restaurant Week is underway, there is no excuse really not to go out and enjoy a lavish yet affordable meal at a restaurant you’ve never been to. Life’s an adventure and eating your way through it is the tastiest route. Eat, Drink and explore ya’ll!

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