Even in the dead of winter, a Saturday night on Main Street in East Greenwich is crowded with hungry diners. People converge on the strip for a night at one of the many restaurants along its path. A couple of Providence restaurants have taken note of this and opened their suburban outposts here. First Rasa tested the waters by bringing Indian food to the ‘burbs. Now Red Stripe, a Providence staple, has brought East Greenwich its first brasserie.
Located in the former Caprice Restaurant and Bar, Red Stripe opened (November 15) to throngs of hungry customers. The large space accommodates 175 people, including a private dining room and a large bar area. The tables are nicely spaced and feature red (no surprise there) cushioned booths and chairs. The décor is decidedly French bistro inspired with colorful art prints adorning the walls. On the busy night I visited with a friend and my vegetarian cousin, all of the tables were occupied, and the restaurant was bustling (some would say noisy) with the sounds echoing off the walls and hardwood floors. In typical brasserie style, the atmosphere is upscale but also very comfortable.
Since I made my reservation on Open Table (very convenient), our table with a fantastic view of the action on the street was ready and waiting for us. The cocktail menu was the same as their Providence location, so I already knew what I wanted. I ordered the French 75 Martini ($10); a combination of Tanqueray Gin, lemon juice and Champagne. It could have used more lemon, but I did enjoy it. My cousin, ever the fashionista, ordered the Fall Fashion ($10); Bulliet Rye Bourbon, Tuaca (vanilla citrus liquor) and maple syrup muddled with fresh oranges. I liked this drink better than mine, which surprised me because I usually prefer gin to bourbon. With our cocktails, we nibbled on the large slices of their tasty, warm sourdough bread that was accompanied by salted butter.
The dinner menu is also the same in East Greenwich as it is in Providence. If it’s not broken, why fix it? The menu is extensive and reasonably priced. There are foods from every corner of the world, including Grilled Margherita Pizza ($12), Red Stripe Paella ($22) and Sesame Crusted Tuna ($19). Being kind to my vegetarian cousin, we started with the Hummus, Tabbouleh and Babaganoush Platter ($9). The platter was piled high with freshly grilled pita bread, roasted red peppers, olives, pickled green beans and cauliflower. The hummus was creamy and luscious and our favorite part of the platter. The tabbouleh and babaganoush were tasty as well, though the babaganoush isn’t for someone who doesn’t love garlic. We also split an order of Risotto Croquettes ($9) since it too met the vegetarian requirement. The fried balls of cheesy goodness were crisply breaded and quickly gobbled up, though we didn’t taste the caramelized onions the menu described.
Dying for some of Red Stripe’s famous frites, I ordered the Steak Frites ($21) for my main course. As luck would have it, our waiter must not have heard me correctly because I was brought the Grilled Open-Face Hanger Steak Sandwich ($14). I said luck because I absolutely adored this sandwich. I still received a large piece of medium-rare, marinated steak and an overflowing pile of frites. The steak was served on a thinly sliced piece of sourdough bread along with lettuce, tomatoes, charred red onions and huge hunks of gorgonzola cheese. I loved it. The interplay of the meat with the earthiness of the cheese and the smoky char on the onions was delicious. The frites were outstanding as well. At Red Stripe, the frites are hand-cut each morning and pre-cooked, ready to be fried à la minute. The frites are served Belgian style with a yummy garlic aioli.
My friend tried the Grilled Salmon ($20) and wasn’t disappointed. The salmon was topped with a dill crème fraiche and served with a giant-sized potato latke. My cousin opted for the Red Stripe Grilled Cheese sans prosciutto ($12) and chose frites rather than tomato soup since the soup is made with chicken stock and therefore not vegetarian. She liked how the mild cheese didn’t take away from the pesto and poached pear on the sandwich.
When it was time for dessert, we thought about ordering the Giant Cookie Pie ($8) but came to our senses and passed. We were stuffed, and even a giant cookie topped with ice cream, whipped cream, candied walnuts, chocolate and caramel sauces couldn’t tempt us. There is always next time!
Red Stripe is the kind of neighborhood restaurant you long to have in your neighborhood. In a town like East Greenwich with its myriad shops and hungry shoppers, Red Stripe is a welcome addition to the landscape. It is open seven days a week for dinner, Monday-Saturday for lunch and brunch on Sunday (try my favorite, the Crab Cakes Benne $15). Whether you have a craving for a hot bowl of soup, a hamburger or a steaming bowl of mussels, Red Stripe is there to help you beat the winter doldrums. Join the scene on Main Street, and you’ll be glad you did.
455 Main Street, East Greenwich