27 December, 2009

5 Guys Burgers and Fries

I was actually in Miami the first time I ever saw a sign for the 5-Guys Burgers and Fries franchise. The chain is nationwide, yet it is also critically acclaimed for fresh food and clean surroundings. The burger-joint started with an open kitchen and clean interior. 5 Guys does not skimp on this, featuring the cleanest bathroom I've ever seen in a fast food restaurant.

The menu remains simple; burgers, fries, and hot dogs. The portions are generous for a cheap price. Every location also offers free peanuts (because everything fried is done so in peanut oil).

The burgers are freshly cooked and made of high quality beef. The buns are so-so, but 5 Guys offers a generous amount of free toppings (except cheese :( ). They were nicely griddled, but I'm more accustomed to eating freshly grilled burgers. Still, the portion was nice and a regular burger (with 2 patties) easily satisfies.

5 Guys is famous for their freshly cooked french fries. Every order is served in a bag with the fries overflowing. They fresh idaho spuds have a clean taste because of the peanut oil. I haven't tried the optional 'cajun spice', but they could only make the meal tastier.

5 Guys and Fries produces a better bag of french fries than a burger, but the burger is still good for the price. There's definately worse food to eat, but a bag of fries are just good walking around food when trekking around the massive Patriot Place complex. I would prefer grilled burgers and perhaps cheaper cheese, but then I get so many other vegetables on my burger I suppose it does not matter.

5 Guys on Urbanspoon

Rating: B

25 December, 2009

Dave & Busters

Arcades have died out in American culture. The surviving entertainment complexes have required an extra gimmick. Dave & Busters (named after the chain's owners) offer American food with an open bar and full arcade to pull in customers. Yes, the food is similar to that of the other big chains, yet the draw of playing skeeball or a racing game draw in the customers. The customers are not just children.

The interior resembles a bar from the early twentieth century. The entire complex is well planned with restrooms and easy access to food and drink. It would be easy to rate the entertainment portion (including karaoke, virtual golf, many pool tables, and yes many arcade and video games), but the food is what I was after.

They offer the same medium-fare found at other chains (you know the ones), but many of the meals include credits to play their video games. This is seductive, but how does the food they offer with this combination stand up?

Prior to the meal, 'Philly-cheese-steak' eggrolls arrived. They served a basic deep fried eggroll filled with tender shaved steak and a light cheese. A cheese-dipping sauce accompanied the appetizer with a light garnish of diced tomatoes and pickled banana peppers. The eggrolls were tender and flavorful; a nice opener.0

One such entree is their grilled salmon fillet with citrus rice and sauteed haricot vert. The fillet was a nice portion and perfectly cooked (something some ocean-side restaurants often mess up with grilling). The sides were decent, though they provided a nice contrast to the salmon's flavors.

Another entree featured a nice sirloin steak with a loaded mashed potato. This is a common meal and there was nothing exceptional about it. The steak was a nice cut (though Outback still wins for best chain-restaurant steaks) and was cooked to temperature. The potato was basic, providing a good carbohydrate boost for later playing.

Desert was unique with a fondue sampler. It was nice to receive one of these with actual melted chocolate and a small tea light to maintain a nice warmth. Alongside the selection were sliced strawberries and bananas, pound cake, small brownie chunks and rice crispy treats. Not as good as Melting Pot's fondue, but Dave & Busters produced a nice desert for a romantic meal.

Dave & Busters is a venue best saved for adventurous dates filled with fun and games. The food is good for what it is, something other restaurants without pinball can often fail at. It produces a good date venue capable of entertaining children or breaking the ice on a blind date.

Dave & Buster's on Urbanspoon

Rating: B

Faial Restaurant and Lounge

Rhode Island maintains a large Portuguese population. This population influences the Rhode Island culinary scene with rich seafood flavors and bold use of spices. Finding a good restaurant serving authentic Portuguese food can be a trip into wonderful flavors. Faial in Smithfield boasts authentic Portuguese flavors with an American influence. Their menu boasts a heavy influence of seafood and a healthy amount of 'Faial sauce' (a spicy and garlicky sauce they serve with almost everything on the menu).

The restaurant's interior was very nice. It boasted a classic American design with some 'under-water' themes spread throughout. The waiters wore crisp white and blacks and each table featured similar dressing. The restrooms were also clean, giving an inviting dining room and attached lounge.

The biggest fault to our meal was service. The waiter just seemed a tad antagonistic and did not give an air of professionalism that an establishment like Faial would convey. Long wait times also complicated things. The service hurt a meal that was otherwise nice.

I ordered the 'bief di casa' (beef of the house), which was a 14 ounce sirloin topped with the Faial sauce and served with their seafood rice (a mix of paella and rice pilaf) and Portuguese potatoes (fresh cut potato chips). The sirloin was well cooked and the flavors mixed well. My wife ordered a more American filet minion with mashed potatoes and glazed carrots. The beef was unfortunately overcooked. She ordered medium and it came out close to well done, a travesty. The sides were decent, but it could not make up for overcooked protein.

Faial produced a nice meal, but not worth the price (over 20 dollars an entree). The service also hurt the experience.

Faial Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Rating: B -

15 December, 2009

Wild Fire

In the western reaches of Mineral Spring Avenue in North Providence sits a gourmet Italian bistro. Wild Fire serves fresh wood-oven pizza, pastas, and they have a full bar. The restaurant celebrates several specials to entice quicker visits. Every Sunday they offer an Italian Chicken dinner. Every Monday, it's all-you-can-eat pasta. Every Tuesday all large Pizzas are half-off. The weekdays have happy-hour specials from 4pm to 6pm featuring a cheap menu.

Inside, Wild Fire features dark woods and impressive lighting. The dim surroundings do not betray uncleanliness. The interior possessed a pleasant atmosphere. A pleasant hostess greeted us and sat us at a lovely table. We were quickly served with excellent service and were presented a wonderful meal.

The best indicator of pizza are the rolls served before the meal. Wild Fire served wood-fire baked rolls with lovely garlic-infused olive oil alongside dried pepper flakes and freshly grated parmigiana regiano cheese. This in itself provided a wonderful start for an early afternoon pizza.

A wonderfully cooked pizza emerged from the kitchen. The waitress suggested a wonderful chianti to complient the pizza. The 'Genoa' featured fresh sauce and buffalo mozzerela cheese topped with a fresh basil chiffonade, freshly cut Genoa salami, and shredded asiago cheese. Its flavors complimented everything wonderfully producing a pizza that cannot easily be topped. Everyone worked perfectly. Wild Fire is the perfect proof of why pizza should be cooked above fire.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal. Me and my wife look forward to returning for a more intense meal. Wildfire has a full website complete with menus.

Wildfire on Urbanspoon

Rating: A

About Me

Rhode Island, United States
I am a lover of Food. I review restaurants, markets, snacks, wine, beer, and spirits. Life is too short to eat bad food.