As local landmarks go, the ones you can eat at grow closer to your heart than statues and buildings. For more than 60 years, Phil's has been as much a part of Wakefield as Providence commuters, and its current incarnation as Phil's Main Street Grille may be its best one yet.
Phil Watson opened the place in the 1940s and many other owners and operators have come and gone. So has the branch operation in Charlestown, tried out in the '90s, but the one in Narragansett's Bonnet Shores is still slinging hash.
The original flagship place has been a breakfast and weekend brunch mainstay. I recommend the "Phil's 2s," which has that number of eggs, sausages, and bacon strips, with a pancake thrown in beside the home fries and toast for a reasonable $7.25. I recently revisited breakfast there to refresh my memory, and everything was as recalled: good friendly service, crisp bacon, and well-browned red bliss home fries. I remember yummy chocolate chip pancakes that looked like healthful blueberry ones from a distance.
Phil's Main Street Grille | 401.783.4073 | 323 Main St, Wakefield | Mon-Sat, 9 am-9:30 pm; Sun, 9 am-2:30 pm | Major Credit Cards | BYOB | Sidewalk-Level Accessible
Stepping inside, you see fans at the tin ceiling and a flatscreen TV scrolling news captions, but also black-and-white historical photos of the area on a knotty pine wall. A picture of Phil's founder is among them.
Evening meals started last September, and there is more than a minimal offering. Early bird specials, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, are as cheap as $7.95 for stuffed peppers or pasta and meatballs. There are daily specials, such as Monday's $8.95 pot roast and Thursday's $8.95 traditional turkey dinner. And there is a summertime seafood menu supplementing the regular one with such items as sesame-crusted tuna and balsamic-glazed salmon.
The soup and salad selection offers popular favorites: garden, Caesar, Cobb, and spinach salads; white clam chowder, and chili. Priced right too, with the multi-ingredient Cobb only $7.95.
On a dinner visit, I had the soup of the day ($2.95/$3.95), black bean. Excellent. Lots of ground beef and a generous coil of guacamole on top with scallions in the middle, like a cherry on a sundae. The table shared an order of calamari ($8). It was also appreciated, mostly for the tangy, lemony sauce that was tarted up further with copious, vinegary pepper rings.
Johnnie was glad we came on a Tuesday, because she loves chicken pot pie, which is that day's special ($7.95). This version was interesting for not having a conventional crust but rather a large puffy pastry set on top, a very un-soggy variation. She would have preferred the traditional carrots with the peas but was satisfied with the flavor of the broth-based sauce and the chicken to potato chunk ratio.
Across from us were a couple of seafood choices. The sole medallions ($12.95) reportedly had a flavorful herbed Panko coating, and the mushroom sauce had the pleasant breath of tarragon. The baked scrod ($12.95) was also appreciated, enhanced as the cod was with Ritz cracker crumbs. Both dishes were accompanied with steamed zucchini and squash and red bliss mashed potatoes.