I’ve been in New England for over a week now, and I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to eat meals at local restaurants that support local suppliers. It’s so refreshing to find a restaurant that’s not a franchised version of the same thing in other towns. The places I have been eating this week are locally owned and operated.
Julians on Federal Hill in Providence, RI was a pleasant surprise. My family and I tried two other breakfast places that were not open, before stumbling on Julians via Yelp. This eclectic eatery offers fresh food with imagination–serving brunch, dinner, and drinks until 1:00 am.
We managed to find street parking (parking is at a premium in Providence) just a few blocks away and scored a big table in the front window for our party of seven for brunch. Upon looking around, my brother cracked a big smile and said to me, “This place is right up your alley!” Indeed he was right, from the album cover art under resin that decorated the tables, to the laminated KISS cutouts with menu offerings on the back… and of course the funky look of the wait staff who were tattooed, pierced and colorful.
These are Not the Eggs You Are Looking For
My brother and I joked about Omelets ‘n Tofu offerings including Tha Jedi Mind Trick and The Sith Lord. Our waiter just so happened to be sporting a Star Wars T-shirt when he came to take our order. My brother looked at me and blurted out “These are not the eggs you are looking for.” OMG I just about died laughing.
I went for the frittata and split a pancake accompanied by real maple syrup (a New England tradition) with my brother. My daughter and nephew ordered the hash, which was outstanding and was nothing like they had ever had before.
Everyone enjoyed their meal and the coffee was fantastic. I’d definitely recommend Julians for brunch, I liked it so much I went back for lunch.
House Made and Local
I returned to Julians a couple days later for lunch, I wanted to learn more about their house made food and local suppliers. For over 13 years the chefs at Julias have provided innovative house made food and beverages. Not only do the chefs prepare a wide variety of scratch made new and classical dishes, but they also offer several alternative options including vegetarian and vegan.
Julians was proud to list their local suppliers in the menu, and there were plenty of New England brews on the beer list.
I wanted to try the vegetarian black bean burger, my server suggested putting it into a wrap and adding goat cheese, for a more creative option on the straight up burger. It was a fantastic idea and I decided to pair it with a glass of Spencer Trappist Ale from the great state of Massachusetts in honor of my heritage.
When the burger wrap was served, I also was offered house made hot sauce and ketchup. “Red is Heinz and yellow is house made.” Of course I went for the house.
Journey to Massachusetts
After spending a week in Rhode Island with my daughter, my Dad came and picked us up to bring us home to Western Massachusetts for a few days. In my family, most of our socializing somehow centers around FOOD. We talk about what’s for dinner right after lunch and we typically plan family gatherings over a meal. There are five kids in my family and three of us have kids of our own. Big families share big meals, and this big family is in the running for some of the best.
Last night we grilled chicken and ate local corn and salad that we purchased at the farm stand down the road. We selected our produce and put our money in the cash box. This type of honor system still exists all over the farm country of Western Masachusetts, I grew up with it so it’s very familiar to me. My husband, who’s’ from New Jersey, was kind of shocked that nobody steals the cash box. Heck, people even make their own change. It’s interesting what you accept as normal based on your own experience.
Today we lunched at Esselon Coffee Roasters and Café where they offer a million more coffee creations than Starbucks, all from house roasted beans. In addition to coffee, we enjoyed house made soups and salads. Emilie had a chocolate chip cookie as big as her head and I had falafel on a bed of local greens. You couldn’t beat the outside seating atmosphere of Esselon which offered tiers of flowering plants, tables and umbrellas and a row of tall bushes that secluded the space from the parking lot.
We could have gone to Applebees or Chipotle but in my head I hear the voice of my daughter’s dance teacher who told the kids, “I don’t want any of you eating at restaurants that we have at home while you are here in New England! I want you to explore and eat local food in Mom and Pop restaurants.”
After all, that’s a big part of the dining experience, isn’t it? Food for sustainability, food for family gatherings, food for local culture… and food for thought.
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