Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Newport, RI: Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant

About, oh, a month ago (wow, am I behind on these posts), Rob and I took a little weekend jaunt over to Newport, Rhode Island with our friends C&C.  We'd never been before, and we were able to snag a pretty good deal on a vacation home since apparently not many people favor New England beach town destinations in the dead of winter. 

We went armed with a bunch of dining options from my friend Sheera, a trusty source of food recommendations.  We arrived in Newport in time for a late-ish dinner thanks to the trusty I-95 traffic, and wanted someplace casual and good.  Sheera had high praise for Brick Alley pub, and a quick Google search turned up a number of encouraging articles, including the fact that Bon Appetit named Brick Alley’s lobster roll one of the best in America.   

We were pretty voracious by the time we sat down around 9:30, obviously past prime dinnertime, as most of the tables were wrapping up and we were the last to be seated.  We studied the immense menu (and ridiculous drink / beer list) and proceeded to over-order.  

Not even close to actually being a slider, but no less delicious for it

First up, some Ahi Tuna Sliders.  The waitress beamed when we ordered these, and they were good, not life changing by any means, but perfectly tasty and great for sharing  And certainly one of the lighter options on the pub-fare-heavy menu. 

Apparently the progeny of one of the 13 best recipes published by Bon Appetit
in its first 50 years
Next, the Portugese Clams, another dish that Bon Appetit apparently loves, going so far as to name it in its 50th anniversary issues as one of the 13 best recipes in the history of the magazine (per the note on the menu).  For a little touristy spot with a giant, pages long menu listing among its edibles nachos and spinach artichoke dip, Brick Alley has sure received its fair share of legit accolades.  The clams were delicious – meaty but not chewy, salty but not thirst-inducing, and that broth was utterly chugable.  Reading the menu quickly, we expected chorizo in the dish, but instead found chouriço, a Portuguege sausage that seemed more closely related to kielbasa than chorizo.   One of the 13 best recipes I imagine Bon Appetit published in its first 50 years?  Not sure, but it hit the spot. 
Habanero on the left; normalcy on the right

Robbie has a bit of a wing problem.  He might claim it an affinity rather than a problem, but whenever wings are on the menu, it’s like he has blinders on and can see nothing else.  Typically, the hotter the wings the better for the Robster.  So once I saw habanero wings on the menu, with a disclaimer (“may not be returned due to ‘too hot’”) no less, I knew they’d be appearing on our table.  The waitress, bless her heart, managed to talk Mr. WingFace into going halfsies with the habanero and filling the rest of the order up with the Rhode Island Red Hot Chicken Wings.  

As an attorney, I can vouch for the legally binding nature of this  document.
This turned out to be very sage advice.  If the disclaimer on the menu weren’t ominous enough, the release that Robbie had to sign seemed to seal the deal – he was in for some heat. He made it through a couple of those habanero wings, taming the fire in his mouth with his boozy mudslide; our friend Chris took one for the team as well, also requiring the solace of Rob's cold, creamy beverage.  I’m not a chicken wing fan at all, but I couldn’t resist trying a bite. They were, indeed, hot as shit.  Not wanting to totally kill my taste buds, I kept it at that; Rob admitted that his were useless after those wings. 

Lobstery, New Englandy goodness

But really, I was in it for the lobster roll.  I have a weird thing with lobster rolls.  I love them in theory, but I very rarely order them because I know there’s only so much mayo-slathered seafood I can handle.  When I do order them, I am typically skeeved out by them after the third bite.  And three bites of a lobster roll is hardly a good investment.  But I expected a lot from one named among six of the best in America – I doubt just any mayo-bomb would make that cut.  And in any event, was in the mood for it.  And it was good. Really good.  Big, juicy chunks of lobster, tossed but not drowned in mayo, with a deliciously awesome, buttery split-top bun.  It was utterly enjoyable, even the next day.  But all those apps (and the bingeing in which I’d drunkenly, embarrassingly indulged the night before) did me in; despite my best intentions, I had room for jut a few bites.  Not even enough to make it to the point where hoisting the roll up off of the plate was a viable option.  Thankfully, we were staying in a rental home with plenty of fridge space, so into a doggy bag it went. 

This plate was hubcap-sized
Rob had the generously portioned short rib, which could’ve tasted like hot flaming ass and it wouldn’t have made a difference after those wings.  The bite I stole was salty, but good; the accompanying creamed spinach a fine version of the form.  The majority of this came home with us as well.   I’d be loath not to mention that the short rib came with access to the unlimited salad bar (including bread and soup), which was hardly necessary given the amount of food we’d ordered. 

C&C went splitsies ordered a Buffalo Chicken Salad and Fish Tacos,.  Since both dishes were handily demolished, I’d have to imagine they were well-received. 
Far from fine dining, Brick Alley seems perfectly suited to its surroundings. Tasty, plentiful food right in the heart of Newport's tourist drag.  Though we’d long been the only table dining, there was a solid bar scene going, and we didn’t feel rushed out of the place at all.  Then a crowd, bedecked in green and black, some with fuzzy pints of Guiness atop their heads, entered and invited us to join them in the Great Guiness Toast.  Not the types to turn down the chance to take part in setting a world record (or free beer), we accepted; the perfect capper to our admittedly gluttonous meal.  Hey, we’d turned down dessert*, a little beer wouldn’t hurt. 

* I suppose one could argue we’d eaten dessert throughout the meal through the stolen sips from Rob’s many mudslides. I say, irrelevant. 

140 Thames St.
Newport, RI
(401) 859-6334


MATT PLUMB said...

Thanks for the great review. Rest of your site is great too. Hope you dont mind I posted your link on our fb page

Matt Plumb

Shanelé said...

when did you guys go there!? Adam and I are tagging along next time.

Dee said...

From the sound of your post it looks like you and Rob had a great time- I would too getting to sample so many neat dishes. I do though think I would not make it much past the sliders. As for those wings- what was Robbie trying to do- try out for Man vs Food?

Jennie said...

I love BAP and the Plumbs(owners) are wonderful, it's one of my "must haves" whenever I'm in Newport. Nachos and salad bar are great as is anything with Chourice in it, but I also love the Sole Vanderbilt and Scallops with Cajun Cream Sauce. Yum Yum