Although Bistro 9 is locatedat the East Greenwich Golf Club, you don't have to be able to tell a nine iron from a tire iron to be comfortable here. Just please, please refrain from replying, when asked by the waitstaff how your meal is "par for the course." Nothing personal, but you will be frowned upon and escorted out.
BOUNTIFUL The antipasti station at Bistro 9.
If the executive chef himself takes you by the collar, it will be gently, because he's a classy guy. Aaron Edwards is a product of the CIA (the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, not the other place, though we'd never know, would we?). The multi-award-winning chef polished his skills at several prestigious restaurants around the country, from Isabella's in New York to Trattoria del Corso in East Greenwich.
The decor is attractive inside, with quality artworks on the walls, despite "bistro" signaling foreign movie posters. A pair of soft autumnal landscapes near our table kept attracting my attention throughout our meal.
The fare is mainly Italian, supplemented by a list of "Simply Grilled" items conveniently listed Thai restaurant style, which is to say: a half-dozen items under proteins, from filet mignon ($21) and rib-eye ($22) to tuna ($19) and chicken ($15), next to a half dozen sauces, such as a gentle balsamic, lemon and olive oil purée, or the gangbuster flavors of wasabi aïoli and Gorgonzola purée. They also follow the practice, which I wish every restaurant would, of offering a list of sides, all $5. Do you want to stare covetously at the potato Napoleon on your neighbor's ribeye plate ($24), which you would have preferred but were served Yukon gold mashed with your pork tenderloin ($17)? And when doesn't an extra plate of asparagus, also available, not bring a smile to tablemates?
We ended up ordering prix fixe, since it was Restaurant Week, so let me survey the rest of the regular menu, to give you a further idea of opportunities and prices. This is a good place to spread out an array of small dishes, tapas style, since their appetizers, salads, and "Lighter Fare" outnumber their four pastas and nine entrées. Those starters include fried panko-crusted green tomatoes ($8) complemented with ricotta and both pesto and tomato sauce. Another item, "Half Pint Shrimp" ($12), solves the quantity question directly; the champagne-battered shrimp come with both a cherry pepper salsa and chili aïoli.
Of course there is linguine and clams, ($19) among the pastas — this is Rhode Island, not some savage backwater. But what looked most fascinating to me, for my next visit, is the farfalle aragosta ($23), not only sautéed lobster but salmon and English peas in a white truffle and goat cheese cream sauce. Decadent. There were some nice touches among the entrée descriptions: steamed ginger avocado rice with pan-seared tuna ($22); a strawberry and Gorgonzola couscous with sugar-glazed salmon ($17).
As for their delectability, our off-menu exploration was satisfying. Since one of their appetizers was described as having only three littlenecks, we were pleasantly surprised that it was of massive proportion, pumped up with pieces of fennel sausage and white beans over crostini, in a briny white wine "sea broth" of clam juice. Superb. Johnnie's salad of baby field greens was equally enjoyed, amped up as it was with fresh figs, candied walnuts, and three large rolls of prosciutto di Parma, all tossed with a pomegranate vinaigrette.