A winner for many occasions
by Bill Rodriguez
909 East Main Rd. (Rt. 138), Middletown, 848-5153
Open Sun-Thurs, 11 a.m-9 p.m., Fri-Sat, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Major credit cards
No handicapped access
Many out-of-state visitors may think of Providence as the New England
food mecca, but for us fortunate residents, recognition came long ago that
there are terrific restaurants all over Rhode Island. It's especially nice to
find one tucked away in the middle of Middletown.
When we first visited the eatery (Andrew's) that used to be where the
three-year-old Glass Onion is now (I've been in Vo Dilun too long!), we were
very pleased with our meals and our service. On a recent visit, we discovered
from our helpful waitress, Amanda, that she and the head chef, Chris Maitland,
have been in this spot for nine years, so quality in both the kitchen and the
dining room has been carried over.
The dining room is a high-ceilinged barn-like space, made cozy with booths
along the edges, a tree in a planter in the middle of the room and a wall-sized
fieldstone hearth, with two fireplaces and a long mantelpiece. Two seven-foot
dividers that screen the bar and the entryway provide more shelves for green
hanging plants (and, at this time of year, poinsettias). The dark flowered
tablecloths and a shifting display of Marcelle Casavant's paintings enhance the
A large painted onion, with a twinkle on its bulge, hangs over the mantel, and
the theme is carried through the menu. There's onion soup, onion jam, a fried
onion blossom and, on the lunch menu, an onion omelette and onion quiche. We
began with the jam ($4.25), actually a warm compote of carmelized shallots and
onions, with red and green peppers, served with pumpernickel toast points and
salad greens. Sweet, savory and yummy, the onion juice on the salad, as well as
the sauteed veggies on toast, was enjoyed.
Chris Maitland (he's assisted by Kenny Wosczyna) still highlights several
pastas on the menu, and there are also many seafood, steak and chicken dishes
that are served with potatoes, rice or French-fried sweet potatoes. The pastas
give star billing to seafood, including a shrimp and scallop fettucine, steamed
mussels and littlenecks over capellini and Glass Onion Alfredo, with lobster,
shrimp and scallops. All entrees are served with a generous salad.
Heading for the house strength, I chose the "chef's penne" ($14.95), with
sauteed chicken, roasted red pepper, artichoke hearts and fresh basil in a
sharp provolone cream sauce. As delicious as it was, I could have used more
basil or even artichokes to cut through the richness of the cheese.
Bill was enticed by the surf `n turf special: in this case, two pork
tenderloins and two baked stuffed shrimp ($19.95). The shrimp were filled with
a seafood and crumb stuffing, and set into a lobster cream sauce. The
tenderloins were pan-seared and finished with apples and onions. The main
attractions were ably accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes and grilled
vegetables. Judging from the intense concentration on that side of the table, I
could easily conclude that my counterpart's meal was a hit.
Except for the sorbets and ice creams, Glass Onion desserts are house-made,
and we had a tough time making a decision. For Bill, the lemon-blueberry tart
($4.25) won out over the bread pudding with apricot raisin sauce; for me, the
apple crisp with vanilla ice cream ($3.50) triumphed over the bourbon pecan
pie. The tart was like a cheesecake-lemon pie hybrid, very dense and lemony.
The apple crisp (despite our initial skepticism over its Macintosh apples) was
delicately spiced, with still-crunchy apple slices, a rarity.
The Glass Onion successfully manages to be both a family restaurant,
frequented by locals (there's an early dinner club, Monday through Thursday
from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.), and a special place to take a date. The food is
delicious, the portions are generous, there are real bargains on the menu and,
hey, if you're only in the mood for a burger or a Caesar salad, that's there,
too -- all the earmarks of a favorite for Rhode Islanders.
But, alas, another Rhode Islandism exists: When will restaurants learn that a
policy of smoking "only at the bar," or in a side room, still does nothing to
contain the smoke to those areas? And, lastly, two questions for readers (and
food fans): What's your personal standard for "al dente" pasta? And, what kind
of apples do you like in pie or crisp?