Dining Out: Spain of Narragansett, Rhode Island

Note:  the top part of these Dining Out in Rhode Island blog posts concern themselves with the restaurant / eatery.  The bottom parts are my travelogue, and are only there for side interest…  

Spain of Narragansett:  1144 Ocean Road, Narragansett, RI  02882.

I could easily spend my entire time in Rhode Island consuming nothing but seafood and some associated veggies.  Purposely, however, I checked around for other style of venue, and in this case, near my motel in Narragansett (Point Judith area).  Enough driving!  (I did drive to it from the motel, but this wasn’t that far.)

This restaurant opens at 4:30 pm for dinner – I got there at 5:30, and I am glad I did.  By 6, a line was beginning to form.  I was seated next to a wall-high water feature, the backing of it all tiled – again I’m appreciating good tile-work, as I’m having my future home tiled at this point!

Dining out, Narragansett, Rhode Island, Garlic soup, Spain of Narragansett

Garlic soup. No, there’s probably no way to make this a full-out Gourmet Magazine photo, after delivery to the table, but this is the best item I tried at this restaurant!

Other than the garlic soup, I ordered specials not ordinarily on the menu.  The service was very attentive, and very professional.  Seating is indoors, and comfortable.  Warm bread was served – three slices of a white, and three slices of a loaf with currants cooked in.  I tried one slice of the currant bread – very nice and tasty.   (Unlike lunch, this wasn’t going to be a gluten-free meal.)

The soup arrived – this, too, was not gluten-free.  Definitely, everyone at the table should order the garlic soup – or, no one!  Garlic breath!  Yes, it lives up to its name!  It’s in a red sauce that is definitely not tomato in origin – maybe a mild roasted red pepper?  The soup was awesome, pretty close to a five star.

Dining out, Narragansett, Rhode Island, Garlic soup, Spain of Narragansett

Lots of good greens under the salmon and shrimp. The shrimp seriously downrated this, but the salmon was good. But, there could have been more. I liked the olives.

The special appetizer I ordered was described as a smoked salmon dish with a couple shrimp, lettuce and capers.  There were no capers – I didn’t personally mind one way or the other, but if you say you are putting capers on a dish at an expensive restaurant, they should be there, somewhere.  The lettuce was mixed greens, and they were very good.  The smoked salmon was top notch and not overly salty, and was served with small splashes of sour cream rather than cream cheese.  This was an interesting change, and I approve.  However, the shrimp – these two shrimp were really huge, and I wonder what mangrove-despoiling farm they were raised up in.  They weren’t that great, and one of these shrimp still had most of its vein in it.  I could have done without them.  This dish is what has seriously downgraded my rating for the restaurant.

Dining out, Narragansett, Rhode Island, lamb chops, Spain of Narragansett

Two out of three.

For my main, I chose the lamb chops, asking for them medium rare.  Two of the three came tender, cooked to perfection, with a tasty mound of mashed potatoes, some nicely blanched green beans, a yellow summer squash section, and a couple of carrot slices.  And more garlic.  Those chops were meaty and not fatty.  Unfortunately, the last of the three (it had to be the last one???) was tough, and I barely got through it.

I also ordered a glass of Spanish red – I was told the label, but didn’t write it down so it went into the black hole of my memory.  It was a very smooth and good wine — but I’m always a sucker for a good Spanish red.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars.   Garlic soup, please!!


Travelogue, Rhode Island, Wickford

Map of Wickford.  Posted at the Wickford parking area, and this is a photo I took of the map.  

Before Dinner:  (the Travelogue continues)

After my abortive attempt at finding the John H. Chafee Wildlife Refuge, I settled for a venture to the Narragansett Rune Stone, something I found recommended to visit on the Roadside America website.  This is a fun and quirky website that recommends (or at times, smartly simply just mentions, without recommendation) odd sites off the regular beaten track.  Roadside America recommends a variety of places in Rhode Island to visit — somehow I could hold off on the Mr. Potato Head Parade Mascot, the House of Edgar Allan Poe’s Girlfriend, and the Cow Vomit Rope On Display, but I was seriously tempted to visit the museum that houses the apple tree root that ate Roger Williams in Providence.  (Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams are two of my favorite Colonial figures, and they both lived for a time in Rhode Island.)  The New England Wireless and Steam Museum, in East Greenwich, may have also been an interesting destination.  Yup, I missed out on all of those!

I was informed that the Narragansett Rune Stone is now located on Brown Street, Wickford.    So, I wheeled up to North Kingstown, in which the Wickford district is located.

wickford, travelogue, rhode island

Brown Street, Wickford.

Wickford is a pleasant area, with (mostly) affordable-looking homes, but once you get to Brown Street, you recognize this area for its combo of upscale and/or quirky shopping potential.  (You probably can’t afford to buy on or adjacent to this street!)   There’s water access on the right side of the road as you cruise up north — and a plethora of recreational boats in dock.  There’s also great parking, which was also free.

Narragansett, Rhode Island, travelogue, wickford

Wickford center, recreational boats out there at a distance, accessible by many docks.

Most shops are for the quirky at heart — I really wanted to try on some clothing but my leg was bothering me.  So — if it couldn’t be tried on for my upper torso, I wasn’t going to do so.  I did find a wonderful, colorful sleeveless dress, but it wasn’t going to cover my really bad, swollen knee, so with regrets, I declined.  I do admit, it was also a bit tight in the arms.  I stopped at a more-touristy spot (most of the merchandise said “Rhode Island: or “Wickford”, or some such), and got directions to the Narragansett Rune Stone, which is about mid-street, and located at the back of the Old Library Park.  (NO, I do not know if there is a New Library Park, or not…)  I did pick up a refrigerator magnet…

Wickford, Rhode Island, travelogue, pipefish

Looking down from a bridge, into the waters below. I’m surprised any of these pipefish photos turned up as salvageable.

I did get to see pipefish, and some great scenic sailboats.  I also really appreciated the Narragansett Rune Stone, no matter its provenance.

Rhode Island, Wickford, travelogue

Sorry about the shadows. But the statuary remains evocative. Wickford, Old Library Park. Notice — no Kindles or I-Pads.

Nice statuary at the Old Library Park.   I’m reserving this photo for some serious hard core LightRoom improvements, but I don’t have the time right now for anything more than the basics.

Dining out, Narragansett, Rhode Island, Wickford

Viking Runestone, Wickford, RI.

And, of course, I did get to the Narragansett Runestone.  It was discovered prior to 1964 — maybe as early as 1939.  It cannot be determined when the runes were carved — a relic of the original Norse explorers, or perhaps something carved within the past two centuries by Scandinavian immigrants?  It was originally discovered in the tidal waters of Narragansett Bay, at Pojac Point.


The Motel:

I booked my nights at the Lighthouse Inn of Galilee.   The place was cheap, considering we were still in season here — season sort of ends at the end of Labor Day weekend.  But it did say Free WiFi.  Yay team!  There is also a swimming pool, which would be possible for me.  Well, that was cool, but apparently the WiFi ended up being accessible only when one was seated at the really humid pool area.  Potentially, anyway.  I wanted to get “home” in my own room at the end of the day, relax, and just chill out on the computer.  Writing up food / dining out / touristy blogs. Surfing on my Kindle as I drowsed out.   Not to be.  Okay, first world problem, but note that’s a major reason these RI Dining Out posts are staggered out so late.

Travelogue, Narragansett, Rhode Island

Jonathan. Unfortunately, his hundreds of copious relatives were at hand, too. Seagulls are not remotely continent. (Serious hint – you’ll have less problems parking in a place like this if you make sure the vehicle next to yours is taller than yours…)

The other downside of this place — this is really the Jonathan Livingston Seagull Motel.  And they don’t wear diapers or use litter boxes.  And the entire extended family shows up. This was likely why the motel was very much budget-oriented!








Posted in Dining Out, Meats, Seafood, Soups & Stews | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Baked Whiting

This is my first meal on my short term AIP/paleo dietary exclusion plan.  I’d picked up a variety of seafood at Champlin’s on my last day in Rhode Island, tucked them and some ice into a cooler, and brought them home with me.  (More Rhode Island Dining Out posts are in the works.  And no, other than not having junk food or sweets, I didn’t restrict myself in Rhode Island — but I’m pretty much past the desire for junk food or most sweets any more anyways.)

At any rate, whiting (in New England, a member of genus Merlucciusis a smallish, sustainable, schooling fish that is easily caught wild in places like Rhode Island.  I’ve picked it up in supermarkets, where it invariably has looked dried out and old — this is SOOooooo much better.  I should have bought more, gutted and cleaned those, and frozen the extras.  (If you are not into gutting your own fish, you could always ask the fishmonger…  but if he’d done it, I wouldn’t have gotten the roe…)

recipe, whiting, fish, roe, paleo

The larger of the whiting came with two lobes of roe inside. (I didn’t fry the whiting – that’s staged!)

Yes, I did get the bonus of some roe in the one whiting when I gutted and cleaned it.  No sense in letting good fish roe go to waste, so I plopped it in a skillet with a little oil, cooked it a couple minutes per side, then ate and enjoyed.  By no means was that roe filling🙂  But, it was good.  It is creamier than shad roe, no doubt because the eggs are exponentially smaller.

Whiting roe

Cooked whiting roe, larger than life size.

So anyhow, lets get on with our baked whiting!

Prep time:  5 minutes to clean each fish, 5-10 minutes total for the rest of it.
Cook time:  9-12 minutes, depending on whiting thickness.
Rest time:  5 minutes.
Serves:  1 whiting per person.
Leftovers fine, cold or re-heated.

Simple Baked Whiting

  • Quality cooking oil (Avocado, coconut…), just enough to coat the pan
  • Per each fish:  
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice from a fresh lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/4 or so teaspoon of an oregano/thyme mixture (say, 1/8 teaspoon each)
  • pepper to taste.  

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Gut and clean your whiting, if needed.  You may remove and discard the head if you wish.   There are no scales to worry about.

Add the lemon juice and the aminos, some can go into the body cavity.

Add the other herbs and spices, some can also go into the body cavity.  (I didn’t use the pepper because of the elimination diet.)

Bake for 9-12 minutes.  These came out at about 10 minutes.

The flesh will pull nicely away from the bones, and yes, there’s a little tasty meat on the jaw and cheeks.  (Not much, so don’t worry about the head.)


Ready to eat

I ate one the one day, and reserved the second for another.


For a month, I’m not having:  shellfish, grains, legumes (other than snow peas/sugar snap peas), nightshades, allium family members (acckkkkk!), dairy, eggs (triple accckkkkk!!!), coffee.  Nearly all the meats will be pastured and grass-finished.  No added sweeteners, real or fake.  No deli-style meats, or bacon.

The big losses for me will be the eggs and the onions and garlic, and yes, since this is tomato season, some really wonderful heirloom tomatoes all sliced up with a little fresh basil and just a dash of salt… be still, be still! 

Don’t worry though — there’s still a bit of a backlog of a few blog posts that will go up that may well have some of those ingredients in them!

For fiber, I’ll definitely be eating avocado, and the non-nightshade root veggies.  Beets, sweet potatoes, and so forth.  I’ll also indulge on lots of bok choy and mushrooms.   Swiss chard, figs, Italian herbs for seasonings; turmeric and ginger and cumin.

If this solves a physical problem I’m currently facing, I hope to discover the dietary culprit(s) and remove them from my life, and go back to eating all the good stuff — like the eggs and the onions, I so dearly hope!

(PS, tree nuts have already been removed from my life — not really missing them, though I had gotten to like pistachios and pine nuts.)




Posted in Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Dining Out: Matunuck Oyster Bar, S. Kingston, RI

Note:  the top part of these Dining Out in Rhode Island blog posts concern themselves with the restaurant / eatery.  The bottom parts are my travelogue, and are only there for side interest…

Matanuck Oyster Bar, dining out, Rhode island, review

View from Matanuck Oyster Bar

Matunuck Oyster Bar:  629 Succotash Road, South Kingstown, RI 02879

Matanuck Oyster Bar, dining out, Rhode island, review

The specials menu

They open at 11:30 a.m., and by noon, in season at least, the place is doing a great number at filling up.  By one, the parking is mayhem – for this reason, apparently, the restaurant is valet parking only.

Outdoor seating is available, and desirable in good weather, which we certainly were having — temps in the mid-70’s!  You can sit in the sun, or under cover of a canopy (I chose the latter).  Service is quick, efficient and friendly.  The meals are not inexpensive, but hey, it’s a vacation, right?

Matanuck Oyster Bar, dining out, Rhode island, review

Three types of local oyster, clockwise from left:  Fox Island, cupids, Matunucks.  They’re all the same species – it’s a matter of where they are grown.  Location can play a large part in flavor, but these three all tasted alike (to me). 

It’s a farm to table operation, and is proud of this.  Three local varieties of oyster were available this date, and so I ordered two of each.  You can also get cooked oysters in several (I think five) ways – the one I saw was a batter-fried oyster appetizer with each oyster nestled on a slice of cucumber.  I thought it looked over-breaded, but that’s me, not wanting to hide or dilute my oysters!  Anyhow, the raw oysters came with cocktail sauce, mignonette, and lemon wedge, for mix-and-match dipping.  Turns out of the three I liked the lemon the best this time.  (Cocktail sauce hides the delicacy of raw oyster, frankly.)

Matanuck Oyster Bar, dining out, Rhode island, review

Clear/Rhode Island Clam Chowder, naturally gluten-free

I also selected a cup of Rhode Island (clear) clam chowder.  This was good, but nowhere near the gustatory levels of that wondrous clam chowder I’d eaten on Block Island a few years ago – at Dead Eye Dick’s.   Still, the clams were prolific in the cup – it was just that the chowder’s broth had something a little funky in its seasonings.

Matanuck Oyster Bar, dining out, Rhode island, review

3 Mini-tacos, tuna atop, quac underneath. That mayo-based sauce was indeed quite peppery; I didn’t eat most of that.

I stayed with appetizers (other than the soup) – my next selection was the three tuna mini corn tacos – very fresh yellowfin tuna atop guacamole, in a platter with a jicama, pepper and onion slaw.  Excellent, but I was still hungry.  What I’d eaten so far had been geared for appetizers.

So, I ordered the 1.5 pound steamer appetizer platter with drawn butter and clam broth.  I’d reserved the rest of my lemon wedge, but unfortunately when stepping out to the loo, the lemon wedge vanished. (I’m sure I could have asked for another…)

Matanuck Oyster Bar, dining out, Rhode island, review


The clams were excellent, however, and their broth just perfect – not too salty, no grit, and just that right level of clamminess to go down smooth.  I do wish that New England would season up drawn butter for its shellfish like I (following on my father’s footsteps) always do – I add lemon, or garlic powder, and sometimes a minor kick of Tabasco. But no, it’s not traditional, so I can’t fault a restaurant.

Matanuck Oyster Bar, dining out, Rhode island, review

Overlooking the oyster bar’s edge, cove-wards

The restaurant is located in a beautiful setting, and since the weather saw fit to break from prior high humidity and heat, it was absolutely delightful, hardly a cloud in the sky.

For those who wish to use the facilities, the ladies is ergonomic, clean, and tastefully tiled (I am noticing tiling a lot these days, as the house I am building is now in the tiling phase…)

Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5.  Worth a visit.      


The road trip to Rhode Island was an easy and doable ride.  I left home late enough to miss commuter traffic — and to miss morning sun directly in my eyes.  The journey was relaxing!  I arrived at the oyster bar at a good time for an early lunch, and was indeed surprised to see how many people were pulling in for good eats — it was a Tuesday, after all, and even though still in season, I was mildly surprised.

matanuck - down the road

A trip down the road from the oyster bar. Saw geese flying up from the waters, but couldn’t grab the camera in time…

Afterwards, I snapped a few shots of the cove – driving down the point as far as possible, and then I drove off to find the John H. Chafee Wildlife Refuge.


I don’t know if this one exists anywhere but on maps.  I ended up at a campground which did look like it was surrounded by what might have been a wildlife refuge, but I couldn’t find any of the presumptively-cleverly hidden trails.

route 108 docks-

Docks by campground

route 108 sailboats-

Boats at rest

The campground was well-established – lots of trailers, most of which looked like they’d been there all season.  I mean, around many of them were gardening plants, often IN the ground, not just in decorative tubs or planters.  I could drive down to a little cove with some docks, which I did enjoy. There wasn’t a soul in sight — good setting for a quirky but freaky horror movie — where’d everyone go?  And would the intrepid visitor (me?) be next?   I rather liked the setting of the boat trailers.  No photos of the house trailers — worried about any residuals ghouls being upset!

Rhode Island

In the “abandoned” boat trailer yard…

Rhode Island

Mysterious dock of arcane purpose?

Since it was still a beautiful day, I wasn’t yet ready to check into my motel.  Hey, it wasn’t even yet check in time! (More in the next Dining Out blog post!)

Rhode Island

Fuzzy bottomed acorns?

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Oatmeal with Figs in the Rice Cooker

I just ordered this wonderful cookbook for getting the most out of a rice cooker.  The Ultimate Rice Cooker, by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann, talks about the two main types of rice cookers (Fuzzy logic and on/off), and provides a LOT of recipes and ideas for meals – rice or otherwise.  I have the former type, the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy, 5 cup rice maker.   Some recipes are best with one type, some with the other.  Porridge and porridge-like foods work with the fuzzy logic style, NOT with the on/off — because you get the porridge setting on these machines.

oatmeal, fig, rolled oats, breakfast, recipe

Oatmeal and Fig in the Rice Cooker

At any rate, I chose one day to make oatmeal using the rice cooker.  What’s great about this is you don’t have to hover and wonder if you are going to scorch your pot.  You can go shower and dress for work, and/or wrestle with the kids, while knowing that your rice cooker is doing this job for you.  (They do sell oatmeal that is not cross-contaminated with gluten.)

Oatmeal with Figs in the Rice Cooker

Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  Depends on your rice cooker, maybe half an hour
Rest Time:  On the Keep Warm cycle – 1 or 2 hours.  Or no rest at all!
Serves:  1 – multiply all ingredients for more.
Special equipment:
fuzzy logic rice cooker
not optimal.

  • 1/2 cup rolled oatmeal (multiply all ingredients if you are serving more than one person).   Steel cut may take a different amount of time, but should be good, too.  Do not use instant oatmeal.  
  • 1 cup water (or use half water, half milk – but watch your cooker the first time you try this, as some may get too hot and the milk will try to boil over.  No fun.  I was going to be too busy to watch, so opted not to.
  • 2-3 fresh figs, quartered
  • optional splash or so of milk for after cooking
  • optional 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or more if you are a sugar junkie)
  • optional 1/2 teaspoon butter

Put the oatmeal, liquid, and figs into the fuzzy logic type of rice cooker.  Put on Porridge setting, turn on.  Stay in the kitchen if you are using milk for the first time.

When it shuts off from cooking, the Stay Warm setting is good for an hour or two.

Plate, and add any optional ingredients.

(Of course, you can sub in any preferred or available fresh fruits to this dish.  You could also add the fruit on top, after cooking.  Or, you could use a good quality coconut milk low on additives instead of the dairy milk.)


Posted in Breakfast, Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Okra, Mushroom, Tomato, Onion, Kashmiri Masala

The inspiration for this dish was Indian — but having come home from surgery earlier that day, I didn’t have the stamina to go whole-barrel on this one.  In fact, I’d prepped the okra the day before.  Kashmiri paste /masala more often goes with mutton or goat, but as noted, I’d just gotten out of surgery and wasn’t in the mood to finagle the finer points.  It tasted quite good and is worth a repeat, anyways.

recipe, Basmati rice, Kashmiri masala, okra, vegetarian, tomato, mushroom, onion

An Indian-inspired dish over Basmati rice

I get great fresh okra from either the farmer’s market, or from an Asian (Indochinese) grocery near me.  The stuff in my supermarket always looks like it has been sitting around in a dungeon for several unhappy weeks.  In a pinch, frozen will do.  (Thaw it first.)

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Rest time: none
Serves:  three servings; makes great leftovers.

Okra, Mushroom, Tomato, Onion, Kashmiri Masala

  • 1/2 pound okra. 
  • 1/2 large onion — I’d do the whole onion next time
  • 4 ounces sliced button mushrooms.
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri Masala paste (add more for more heat if you choose).
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • grapeseed or other cooking oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Remove stems from the okra.  Remove bottom tips if they are brown, otherwise let them remain.  Chop the okra into one inch length segments or less.

Coarsely dice the onion and slice the mushrooms.

Put a good cooking oil into a skillet — probably a tablespoon since mushrooms absorb it readily.  Turn heat to medium/medium high.

When the pan sizzles upon the addition of a drop of water, add the onion.

Let it saute for about 3-5 minutes, until just translucent.

Add okra, mushrooms and garlic paste.  Stir fry for another 5-10 minutes, until the okra is soft, and the mushrooms are cooked.

Toss in all the other ingredients, and continue stirring until the tomato is hot and begins to break apart.

Serve over a bed of hot Basmati rice.

This recipe has hooked up with the Link Parties at:
Real Food Fridays, and also
Fiesta Friday, with special hosts Su and Laura
and Saucy Saturdays (hosted by Swayam, Christine, Jennifer & Dini)

recipe, vegetarian, okra, tomato, onion, mushroom, kashmiri masala

Cooking away in the skillet


Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Mushrooms, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Simple Squid and Rhode Island (Royal) Red Shrimp Salad

I’d cooked the squid and shrimp the day before.  Royal Red shrimp, aka Rhode Island Red shrimp are delicate deep-water denizens off the Connecticut / Rhode Island coast, and I am given to understand there is another population around Florida.  They are wild-caught.  The trick is to cook them quickly, absolutely no more than a minute.  They’ll be done even before the squid!  If these are overcooked, they turn very mushy.

Should you have the ingredients to hand, this is a quick and very healthy meal, with a light dressing.

salad, Rhode Island Red, Royal Red, shrimp, avocado, heirloom tomato, lettuce, healthy

Salad with Rhode Island Red shrimp, squid, avo, heirloom tomato, and lettuce

Prep time:  15 minutes, relaxedly
Cook time:  1 minute max for the seafood
Rest time:  Eat it up!
Serves: 1

Simple Squid and Rhode Island (Royal) Red Shrimp Salad

  • Several lettuce leaves, shredded (I used green leaf lettuce)
  • 1 heirloom tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado
  • a handful of squid 
  • about 4 or so large royal red shrimp (AKA Rhode Island Red shrimp)
  • 1.5 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1.5 tablespoon Ponzu marinade (Marukan All Natural Ponzu Premium Sudachi Citrus Marinade – this is not the soy-based Ponzu sauce more readily found in supermarkets, although I have seen it in Whole Foods).  Replace with a light balsamic if need be.

For the seafood:

Set a pot of water to boil.  When boiling, add squid and shrimp (I added about 2/3rd pound of each, because the seafood was designated for multiple purposes).  The squid should not boil longer than a minute, the shrimp perhaps 50 seconds.

Drain under cold tap water and shell the shrimp.  Set aside.

For the salad:

In a salad bowl or plate, add a few leaves of rinsed and lightly shredded leaf lettuce.

Chop up the squid you plan to use into rings and tentacles; chop the shrimp into halves, chop the tomato coarsely, removing the core and reserving the liquids.  Slice open the avocado and take one half for slicing into the salad.

Arrange the above in layers as you wish.

For the dressing:  1 part extra virgin olive oil to one part Ponzu marinate.  Add the tomato liquid.

Pour over the salad, and serve, with optional cracked black pepper.

salad, squid, shrimp, Rhode Island red, Royal red, avocado, heirloom tomato, lettuce, recipe

Close up!

To minimize the browning of the leftover avocado:  use a little Ponzu sauce, or perhaps a splash of lemon or cider vinegar over the exposed cut area, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap before returning to fridge.

This recipe has joined the Link Parties at:
Real Food Fridays, and also
Fiesta Friday, with special hosts Su and Laura



Posted in Cooking, Salads, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dining Out: MJ Tuckers, Sandisfield MA

Located along Route 8 on the right side if you are headed into Connecticut, and near the Farmington River, MJ Tuckers promotes beer and pizza.  And Keno.  Looking at the logo one may think – American/Italian and English Pub.  The interior ambiance owes much more to Southern Country.

Dining out, MJ Tuckers, Sandisfield MA

Dining Out: Pizza and Pub! Sandisfield, MA – located on Route 8, the western part of the state.

I arrived about 1 pm last Friday, when the joint was fairly empty.  Crossing the threshold one could scent the unmistakable sweet aroma of yesterday’s hops.  Country music played from a box in the corner.

When I’ve passed this place by on weekends, it’s always looked crowded and hopping.  A fair amount of motorcycles and 4 by 4’s.  I was glad to give it a try on a calmer weekday, since I am not a crowd-scene person, although it was at first intimidating to sit at the bar with all the other customers — simply because many of whom were dining suds-only, without lunch.

I bucked the tide.  I ordered water.  (I had nearly another hour and a half to drive home.  I drink, but I don’t drink and drive…)

MJ Tucker’s promotes their pizza, but not being in the mood for pizza just then, I chose from the other offerings.  Ordered their cup of French onion soup, and their hog shank appetizer (which was supposed to come with six shanks).   This menu option seemed to fit in with the country decor (which included many taxidermy bucks’ heads) and music, and the idea intrigued me anyway.  I had no idea how big a hog shank was going to be — small, large?  If large, did most clients share with their companions, like a platter of nachos gets shared, even though that’s an appetizer?  I like country music, so I was fine with the ambiance — they didn’t play it so loud that conversations would be halted.  Indeed I was able to step away from my seat at the bar to take a call from my veterinarian without having to go outdoors to hear her. (I didn’t want to inflict my bar-mates with our conversation.)

Meanwhile, I could play Keno if I wanted – generous Keno cards and pencils were provided on the counter.  I opted to play with my phone instead  (neither Keno NOR Pokemon GO)!  (I checked e-mail, mostly. Yeah, boring!) I didn’t get a signal that this place was customer wi-fi adapted, but I suspect it’s rather rare to have that in the area I was travelling.

The soup was serviceable but not great.  It lacked some in the flavor department, and I think they only used mozzarella as the cheese, and a rather washed-out broth, but there were lots of onions.  But this is not the sort of place you want to rely on French Onion Soup to define your menu.

Sandisfield, MA, Dining out, MJ Tucker's, restaurant, hog shanks, French onion soup

Americanized French onion soup, and an appetizer of hog shanks with cornbread. That second platter was Totally Yum!  Keno cards and pencils seen upper left…

The hog shanks were terrific, however!  They’re small, and very, very lightly breaded, with a mildly-peppery seasoning.  They were tender and not greasy.  They (5, not six, but it didn’t matter, because I was plenty full) came with two mini corn muffins, which were also enjoyable.  The muffins were not terribly sweet, as such things often can be, and were just deliciously warmed before delivery.  They didn’t need butter, which was fine since butter wasn’t supplied.  (I am sure you can ask for it.)  The shanks didn’t need the Russian dressing that was supplied on the side — I tried them both ways and I was just as content to leave the dressing behind.  Although the dressing does work if you want it.

There is an extensive pizza menu, and noting how many vehicles line up outside here on weekends, I’m guessing this menu is popular.  I didn’t see any sign of artisanal beers (I didn’t look, but I did read things readily available), but Sam Adams (this IS Massachusetts) is on tap.  Service was friendly.

I’m holding off on rating this restaurant overall, as French onion soup is probably not a main selling point in a place such as this, and there was a big dichotomy between the two items I ordered. I’ll definitely be back, though.  So, the below just rates the menu items I ordered.

Dining out, Sandisfield MA, hog shanks,

Note the prominent advert for Keno. On weekends this venue appears to be hopping when I’ve driven by.

French Onion soup:  I rate this 3.0 (out of 5.0).  It is okay, but bland.  I’d order it again but I think I’d much rather explore the rest of the menu, first.
Hog shanks with corn bread mini-muffins:  I rate this 4.5.  I’m so into these!

It appears they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.




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