As the room began to fill up around 7 pm (there are 15 bar seats and 15 or so hand-me-down wooden tables scattered in one loud room), we ogled some of the monstrous burger options darting through the crowd; a pair of PC grad students next to us welcomed the arrival of two behemoth Cheese & Burger Society offerings (all in the $11-$14 range). Ten-ounce patties are seasoned and seared, with bricks of Wisconsin's finest as the sole common denominator here; golf pencils and build-your-own scorecards aren't necessary. The spiral-bound, full-color table topper provided is straight-up Food Porn, and one glance at the Brooklyn and the Highwayman left jaws agape. The former looked like a winner on color scheme alone, with thick-cut Swiss stacked with sauerkraut, corned beef, and Thousand Island dressing on grilled dark rye. Those kickass onion rings literally elevated the Highwayman, assembled with bacon, cheddar, fried ham, and egg, with BBQ sauce on a grilled knot bun.
Fernsy went straight for the Casanova, a savory beast with Swiss, grilled ham, and sautéed 'shrooms, Dijon and mayo, on a buttered potato roll. Sarah opted for the Wild 'Shroom ($9.99) from the Signature Burger list, with a generous heap of grilled wild mushrooms under melted Vermont Swiss cheese. The Abbey's take on the classic Cubana sandwich, the Havana — two beef patties, baked ham, and pulled pork, with Swiss, pickles, and mustard on a pressed French loaf — got the thumbs-up from Omar.
I veered off the burger course and headed for Phil's Revenge ($9.99), a folded pizza shell stuffed with tender filet mignon tips, cheddar, onions, cucumbers, and ranch dressing; paired with a goblet of Chimay Rouge ($7), I was one fat and happy cat. The accompanying fries (one of seven sides) were hand-cut and savory, but the chips remained a unanimous favorite.
My pal Omar pulled the power play of the night. As we were on the verge of slipping into a food coma, he ordered the Couch Potato (thick-sliced bleu cheese, potato chips, BBQ pulled pork, and sautéed onions) to go, and has been talking it up ever since.
Our only cavil was the slip-up in service throughout the night, which was a minor annoyance considering the exceptional menu (and the demands on the solo waitress). The Elmhurst locals and PC student body are some damn lucky folks to have the Abbey within walking distance. And with so many other reasons to visit the Abbey (buy one-get one lunchtime burgers and Wing Night specials), we officially can't get enough of this place.
THE ABBEY | 401.351.4346 | 92beers.com | 686 Admiral St, Providence | Sun-Thurs, 11:30 am-10 pm, Fri-Sat, 11:30 am-11 pm | Major credit cards | Full bar | Sidewalk-level accessible