A tasty education in dishes from around the world
by Johnette Rodriguez
14 Narragansett Ave., Jamestown, 423-1490
Open Mon-Fri. for lunch
11:30 a.m.-5 p.m., dinner 5-10 p.m.
Sat & Sun brunch, 7:30 a.m.-noon,
lunch, 12-5 p.m., dinner 5-11 p.m.
Major credit cards
In the summertime, life on our New England islands becomes as languorous and
luxurious as any St. Thomas or St. Bart's -- witness Newport and its more
modest cousin, Jamestown.
Indeed, on any given summer evening in downtown Jamestown, music drifts out of
a half-dozen doors, residents linger on park benches, and tourists stop to read
menus at restaurants that have moved outdoors. And it was on just such an
evening that my husband, Bill, and I decided to visit the Schoolhouse, whose
building has gone through several incarnations, including that of housing
Photos and artifacts in the dining room carry through this theme -- the menu
is cleverly divided into sections titled "opening bell, the primer, and dinner
bell," and an old-fashioned school desk sits out front, below the posted daily
specials. Behind these is a list of "Did you know?" facts, including the
interesting service at the Schoolhouse of teaching people how to cook any of
their menu items.
Owner/chef Tufan Oral came to the States more than 15 years ago from his
native Turkey, and he is proud to offer several Middle Eastern dishes,
including kofte (ground beef and lamb patties), shish kofte (ground sirloin and
lamb grilled on a skewer), and doner kebab (those succulent, spicy slices
slivered off a tall vertical skewer).
In keeping with this ethnic emphasis, we chose stuffed grape leaves ($4.25) to
begin our meal, as well as New England clam chowder ($3.50 a bowl). The grape
leaves were stuffed with rice, pine nuts, and bread crumbs, and served with
plenty of olive oil and lemon. The chowder, true to its name, had more clams
than potatoes and was dreamily creamy.
From the large selection of entrées (Wiener schnitzel to veal
parmigiana, baked cod to lobster ravioli, veggie couscous to sautéed
duck), I chose a variation of the seafood sauté (a "special" at $18.95),
while Bill had the sautéed chicken breast ($13.75). Both of them turned
out to be more than their "sauté" description would suggest.
Bill's, for instance, was topped with blue cheese, roasted garlic, black
olives, fresh tomatoes, and spinach. The boneless breast had been lightly
dredged in flour and pan-simmered in olive oil, making it tender and juicy. The
cheese did outsing the other ingredients, but Bill was pleased with the sound.
As a side dish, he opted for scallion mashed potatoes (Turkish rice pilaf or
bulgur wheat pilaf were also available) and found them spiked with garlic as
well as scallions.
Tempted by all the seafood possibilities, including entrées with squid,
mussels, and littlenecks, I settled on one with shrimp, scallops, and smoked
salmon in an alfredo sauce with capers and artichoke hearts over fettucine. The
pasta was perfect and the seafood was delicious, but the sauce seemed too thin
to stick to the noodles. However, a small portion of freshly grated parmesan
was served on the side for those who wanted more of a good thing.
Desserts that night included peanut-butter pie, lemon mousse cake, and a fresh
berry tarte, but we chose not to indulge. Our senses were too flooded already
with the summer night: green accents on the red-bricked patio (fence, table
trim, chairs, and umbrellas), pink and purple petunias hanging in windowboxes
on the weathered gray shingles of the Schoolhouse, mellow jazz classics
drifting from the duo across the street, and pink clouds streaking the sky as
the sun set.
Friends frequent the Schoolhouse for its Caesar salads and grilled pizzas.
Sunday brunches are also popular, with specials for the kids. There is a
romantic table for two on the restaurant's tiny balcony, a full bar, and a slew
of magazines to peruse on the divider next to the bar. What's more, even
well-behaved dogs seem welcome on the patio here. Truly, there is something for
everyone at the Schoolhouse.