Review: McCurdy's Junction House

Delicious choices as impressive as the prices
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  June 8, 2011

I suppose it could look more inviting if the cooks were at the entrance ushering us in. But believe me, you'll be glad they're busy in the kitchen. If the chalkboard temptations listed outside McCurdy's Junction House don't convince you to enter, the open-air ambience will: potted greenery behind wrought iron railings at wide open doors.

The interior is welcoming too. Period painting reproductions and family portraits against burgundy walls suggest that the kitchen is staffed by grandmothers. But no, your meals are in the hands of the two chef sons of Michael Devolve Sr., Ryan and Michael Jr. Morgan Nahrwold is the fourth owner.

McCurdy's Junction House | 401.228.3883 | 79 Ives St, Providence | Mon + Wed + Thurs, 11 am-11 pm; Fri-Sat,  11 am-12:30 am | Major Credit Cards | BYOB | Sidewalk-Level Accessible
The place opened the day before Thanksgiving last year, just in time to serve the oven-roasted turkey that is still on the menu (don't worry — it's not the same turkey). It's just $9.25. The entire menu is similarly reasonable. In fact, the most expensive entrée is $12.95, what they're calling Fox Point paella, which combines chicken, shrimp, and chourico over rice with bell peppers, onions, and white beans.

What variety on that menu! From BBQ tofu to BBQ Cornish hen; from red quinoa-stuffed summer squash, with cold orzo salad, to skillet-seared steak tips ($10.50). That last item comes with beef gravy or your choice of four kinds of sauces, including one with Kentucky bourbon set aflame.

"Choice" seems to be the operative word with this menu. There are as many appetizers as entrées (10). The four salads not only can be tossed with your pick of a half-dozen dressings, but they can be topped with goodies, from a veggie skewer or grilled shrimp to chicken salad or potato salad. This menu is not for the indecisive.

They have chowders on Fridays and Saturdays, the plural presumably indicating that means fish and corn chowders as well as clam, at least occasionally. The other two choices in that category are chili verde ($4/$5.75), with pork slow-cooked in a tomatillo base, and their black and tan beef stew ($3.50/$5.50). I started with that last one, which does have Bass Ale and Guinness in it. (Why isn't every beef stew bolstered with Guinness, such a hearty supplement to beef stock?) I'm glad I ordered just a cup, or I wouldn't have had room for a main course — there was much more beef than the tasty stock, and the mashed potatoes underneath, rather than cubes of potato, was a clever variation.

Our appetizers were a contrast. The citrus-marinated asparagus spears ($7.50) were smartly complemented with prosciutto, asiago cheese, and — the best touch — garlic cloves roasted to partial crunchiness. We also enjoyed their coconut sticky wings ($7.50). The coconut gets top billing but it's delicate in the gently spicy soy-base sauce along with ginger.

For her main dish, Johnnie had the one pasta dish offered, "Helen's spring scampi" ($10.25). It comes with scallops or shrimp, or both for just 75-cents more, the same additional price for adding walnut pesto. The linguini was arguably al dente. In wine and olive oil sauce, it also contained baby spinach, grape tomatoes, and flavorful kalamatas. She was well pleased.

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