Red Stripe(1)

Moules frites for the masses
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  August 6, 2008

Now it’s starting to get scary. When Jaime D’Oliveira was a teenager, he washed dishes at a Newport Creamery, the one in Wayland Square. A couple of years ago, all grown up and the chef/proprietor of the prestigious, upscale Mill’s Tavern, he opened the immediately popular Red Stripe bistro in former creamery location. So far, so understandable. But now he has cloned Red Stripe in Narragansett, in — wait for it — a former Newport Creamery. Uh, is this a business plan or culinary conceptual art?

Red Stripe
401.792.3200 | 91 Point Judith Rd, Narragansett | Mon-Sat, 11:30 am-11 pm; Sun, 10 am-10 pm | Major Credit Cards | Full bar | Sidewalk-level accessible
This new place, which opened early in July, has much the look and feel of the original. Chef Matt Holmes and general manager Dan McComiskey were brought down from the Providence restaurant. Bière and coñac posters make the usual claim that this ain’t just any bistro/pub.

The restaurant bills itself “An American Brasserie,” beret-friendly. Acoustic ceiling tiles keep the potential din down to a murmur. Outside, a patio on the shopping mall side — with parking lot-obscuring foliage on order — has wide-open access to the interior, the AC-via-breeze supplemented by numerous ceiling fans.

The menu was a comforting sight, full of the usual items, both familiar and intriguing: the signature paella ($18), the humongous meal-for-two chopped salad ($13), and the herb-marinated lamb steak ($20). Fully half are seafood. Of course, there is the celebrated Red Stripe “Moules & Frites,” Prince Edward Island mussels with a cone of French fries in a full order ($17). Ten different preparations run from the signature version that includes beer, garlic, pesto, and cream, to the simple Billi-bi, with saffron, vermouth, and cream.

We chose a fries-free half-order ($9), since one of our threesome would be having fries on her main dish. The Mouclade version had white wine and coconut milk, lightly cur-ried, tasty as well as goodly portioned — a full two-dozen mussels.

Less interesting was the deviled egg plate ($6). The two halves with the standard egg yolk filling lacked enough mustard to make any of us eager for more — the usual compul-siveness with these appetizers — and the tuna salad was also bland, we agreed. The ham salad and the chopped lox, though, were scarfed up with no reluctance. Moist hot towels were a thoughtful touch with this finger food.

I’ve loved the lavender-scented brick chicken ($17) at Red Stripe’s Providence location. It’s the sort of delectable dish — moist, flavorful — that keeps you from exploring the menu fur-ther when you re-visit.

I also seriously considered the prosciutto-wrapped cod loin ($18.50) because its description was so appealing: roasted on a cedar plank, served over those tiny French lentils with cherry tomato and sweet onion vinaigrette. But my canines were throbbing, so the brasserie filet ($21) it was. The organic Terres Major beef, cooked medium rare as requested, was delicious under its cabernet demi-glace. The grilled ratatouille, from eggplant to zucchini, wasn’t over-cooked, and the shredded potato lorette was nicely seasoned.

Those shoestring fries we’d missed out on came with the stout-battered fish and chips ($16). The batter crust was thin and thereby minimally greasy. There was red cabbage slaw and a jalapeño tartar sauce, as well as the tasty aioli they always serve with fries.

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