“Live to cook; cook to live,” reads the apropos tattoos of Chef Jake Rojas- an ethos embraced by fine chefs, hobby cooks and foodies alike. Newport Restaurant Week continues, and, in the interest of journalistic integrity, I have indulged in some wonderful lunches and dinners throughout Newport and Bristol Counties (and am wondering if my Newport Athletic Club membership qualifies as tax write-off). It’s hard to decide if the best part of Restaurant Week is dining at area eateries for the first time or rediscovering old favorites. With three-course prix fixe lunches for $16, and dinners for $30 (beverages, gratuities and taxes not included), you’re guaranteed a well-rounded meal at an affordable price. Even better, patrons are not required to participate in Restaurant Week, so in some cases, myself or one of my dining companions were inspired by items off the regular
menu. At The Pier, I couldn’t resist the baby spinach salad with fresh greens, tomatoes, pureéd roasted red peppers and feta cheese tossed with champagne vinaigrette on the regular lunch menu, while my friends opted for the The Pier burger and grilled salmon, respectively, from the Restaurant Week menu.
Another afternoon, we toasted Bristol’s inaugural inclusion in Newport Restaurant Week and dined at Redlefsen’s, a longtime Bristol favorite and on my “must-try” list for years. The menu, featuring German and Alsatian-inspired specialties plus global fare, was a departure from coastal New England fare de rigueur in these parts. My friend embraced the Weiner Schnitzel (when in Rome, right?) and adored the dish– and the remaining half of the meal the next day. My Pasta alla Puttanesca, with angel hair, garlic, Serrano chili, olives, pignoli, anchovies and golden raisins, was as pungent as it was colorful, and a savory lunch altogether. Our desserts, a triple chocolate mousse cake and a Daisy Crepe (a fresh crepe with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with rich chocolate sauce) were worth every evil calorie.
A Newport’s newest eatery, Tallulah on Thames, it was clear that owners Kelly Ann Maurice and Keith Maurice as well as Chef Jake Rojas possess
extensive restaurant experience. From the shabby-chic-meets-upscale-bistro ambiance to the refreshing presentation to the perfectly timed service, Tallulah’s was more than a wonderful dinner, it was an extraordinary experience. Tallulah’s Restaurant Week menu, as well as their regular menu, embraces a farm-to-table approach, with the source of their local ingredients listed whenever possible. I started with the Deconstructed Clam Chowdah featuring a trio of steamed little necks on a bed of diced potato, bacon and oyster crackers. The served then poured the creamy broth into the bowl table-side, the presentation rivaled only by its rich flavor. My friend Annie savored the Aquidneck Farms 143.6° poached egg with Allen Farms pea greens and bacon set in a buttery brioche and lighted drizzled with a black truffle vinaigrette. For my main course, I opted for the Narragansett Creamery “Ricotta” ravioli served atop a bed of Swiss chard in buerre noisette and peppered with roasted beets. It was simply delightful—light as it was flavorful, and cooked to perfection. Midge raved about her Baffoni Farm’s breast of chicken with Schartner Farms carrot ginger puree, chestnuts, fuji apples and red cabbage marmalade, while Annie enjoyed the local black cod with brandade, crispy brioche, nicoise olive and a garlic cream. Salivating yet? If that didn’t tease you, our chocolate fondant dessert, with Nutella dust, a dollop of vanilla gelato and a dash of toasted hazelnuts (which I couldn’t help but gush about right after the meal on our Facebook page) was, in a word, amazing.
I have a few more culinary destinations on the horizon, and hopefully you do to. Enjoy Restaurant Week and Bon Appétit!