As a friend commented recently, this Burger Blowout journey really is like The Canterbury Tales, but with burgers. And while the obvious choice of narrator for the next leg of our burger pilgrimage would be the FRIAR, the Franklin is more fitting. He is an optimist, a lover of great food and wine, and is neither too bougie or too lowbrow--like yours truly. Also, Chaucer’s Friar is kind of a corrupt asshole.
My weeknight trip to Warwick’s Arooga’s was, sadly, photo-less, but here are the highlights: a Wall of TVs, with ESPN and various sports matches on every one; a huge selection of chicken wings; a light, airy, high-ceilinged interior; a very nice waiter; a limited burger selection for Burger Blowout participants (so--no Burger on a Donut for us); a bunless burger with an Egg on Top.
I had not seen my friend, M, in far too long, outside of overlapping by fifteen minutes on soccer sidelines. We have been friends since before any of our six collective children came on the scene, and we worked together for ten years (during which all of these children came on the scene). A 20+ year veteran advocate for RI's children, she is as smart and compassionate and effective as they come.
We sipped vodka gimlets and caught up over a period of four hours. We always joked that our very close in age babies would be friends as they grew up, and as it turns out, they do sort of know each other. We traded CIA-level investigation tactics (lots of data triangulation techniques worthy of a Homeland episode), swapped photos and stories and hopes.
All was quiet in The Office Kitchen & Bar when Kid #1 and I stopped in for a Sunday afternoon lunch. The Office is where the Carvel Ice Cream near the airport used to be. You know, across the street from the long-gone Burger Chef, just a bit down from the Ann & Hope (the Target store of 1970s Warwick).
We chose the place because of Kid #1’s longtime, rabid fanhood for the TV show. When we arrived, we saw not Jim and Pam, but a huge banner, advertising televised UFC fight matches, hanging on the fence, and she didn’t want to go in. But go in we did. Inside, we found all high tables with barstools, a handful of people at the bar, day-drinking while playing Keno and watching the Red Sox, and one of the sweetest waitresses ever. We could choose from among three burgers--I stayed pretty basic, and Kid #1 ordered a Buffalo/blue cheese burger.
From our table, we could see down Airport Rd., and the old part of the airport which is now the takeoff place for private and cargo planes. Kid #1 humored me as I recalled having come to this very spot SO MANY times as a kid, for every ice cream cake. I unsuccessfully evaded questions about fake IDs of the 1980s, and college drinking habits. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out together and having nowhere to rush off to, no reason to hurry.
[Here is where we pause for a moment of silence for Stanley’s (no, don’t worry--Stanley’s is alive and well!). I had a post-work date with Kid #2 (a big Stanley’s fan) planned, but the restaurant was closed for renovations (or vacation?) and reopening on May 31. We bounced straight to Rasoi and had a delicious dinner together. But I digress. Kid #2 was sick on May 31, so we did not make it to Stanley’s--we will get there soon either way.]
And then there was Bricco Comfort Food.
I kicked off a Memorial Day weekend all by my not-lonesome by canceling a burger date with my friend P, and deciding to stay in. And then suddenly deciding to go out after all, and heading to Lincoln in the pouring rain for a solo dinner.
It is not often that I have no clue where I am in RI--and I never get lost. That feeling of Literally Where Am I is something that rarely happens in the Ocean State (my exception being that way-west part of Coventry, where I did say, Literally, where am I?). Even if you don’t know where you are, you figure it out pretty quickly, right? But there I was, relying on GPS, no idea that this part of Lincoln existed (it’s Albion, and it’s probably obvious to those who live around there). I crossed a few little bridges and got glimpses of the Blackstone river (a waterfall, even) that I had never seen, before arriving at a little brick building that had to have been a little medical office or something, before it was a restaurant.
I grabbed a high table for one in the bar area, with a book, and that’s when the surprises started.
First came the best vodka gimlet that I have had in recent memory. Shit you not. The very fab server brought me what was basically a martini glass filled with vodka and vodka, with some lemon and lime wedges, a gratuitous splash of lime juice, and a highball glass of ice on the side. Oh, how I appreciated this ice on the side, and also the little basket of addictive, homemade potato chips, sprinkled with sea salt and some blend of herbs.
The Bricco burger was one hell of a burger. I was surprised again by the metric ton of bacon (more bacon than any of this month’s burgers), and by the shiitake mushrooms smothering the patty, which would have been fantastic without any of the bells and whistles. The fries were even better than expected, with the same sea salt/herb sprinkles that the chips had. I wished that P had been with me after all, because we could have argued about whether or not this burger was better than our mutual frontrunner.
I heard the sound of a guitar being tuned, and I became antsy to leave. I couldn’t see where it was coming from, and that sound is all too often a sign of cheesiness to come. But I was surprised again, when a single musician broke into one of my favorite songs. He sang it John Mayer-style, not hitting the high note, but it was good. I left just as the song ended, not wanting to wreck a good thing.
I’ll be getting back to Bricco early and often.
How do you get there??
Arooga's: Rt. 5 in Warwick, in that plaza next to where Apex used to be.
The Office Kitchen & Bar: 1795 Post Rd., Warwick, formerly Carvel Ice Cream.
Bricco Comfort Food: 48 School St., Albion. Use your GPS.