August 31, 2013
Restaurant Surprises on the South Coast
As you know, looks can be deceiving. We know we shouldn’t but can’t help judging some books by their covers…and some restaurants.
Who can blame us? There are so many places to choose from, and we have to use some type of rating system to make a decision. Ruling out restaurants located in an undesirable part of the city, so small you wonder if there is actually a kitchen in back, showcasing a risky menu, or donning an uninspired exterior hinting at blandness within seems to be a sensible strategy. The trade off is that you potentially miss out on some great gastronomic experiences.
Let me introduce you to a few gems you may have overlooked.
The Airport Grille is one of the rare situations in which you should ignore the journey and remember it is all about the destination. Located inside the New Bedford Airport, the venue’s name and location may trigger skepticism. I understand that it is difficult to muster up excitement for a restaurant whose moniker includes the word “airport”, or for that matter, “grille”. You may imagine sticky tables, condiments in a plastic tray, and cheeseburgers. If you can get past your hesitation, here’s what you will find.
Your trip will take through an area of New Bedford which can generously be described as unattractive. After passing Price Rite, Family Dollar, about forty-seven more chain stores, a sewage treatment plant and a string of nondescript industrial buildings, you arrive at New Bedford Airport. Inside the terminal to your right is a small lobby with a ticket counter and a few brave souls waiting to take a tiny plane to Nantucket or the Vineyard. To your left, an hour and a half of relaxation and contentment that comes from a delicious meal and attentive service.
Your first surprise is the interior of the Airport Grille which is modern and upscale. The walls are soothing terracotta with large black and white photographs of bi-planes and children gazing up at what might have been the Wright Brothers’ first flight.
The wine list is extensive and the pours generous. The butternut ravioli are filled with the sweet flavors of Thanksgiving topped with sage and hazelnuts which add a nice crunch to the dish. The flank steak with a red wine demi-glace comes with two sides. Throw carbohydrate caution to the wind and have your steak with garlic mashed potatoes and thyme risotto. The Tiramisu is a must for dessert. Tiramisu can tend to be more cake than cream or cream than cake. Airport Grille’s is the creamy kind!
This restaurant practically shares a parking lot with a used car dealership. Don’t let this deter you. Forget the cars and take a transatlantic trip with Portas da Cidade. What it lacks in curb appeal it will more than make up for if you venture inside.
Tables are dressed in linens with napkins folded to stand up looking like tiny ships, and the wait staff is professionally attired in pressed black and white. Enjoy a bread basket and olives with your Portuguese wine while you peruse the menu. The respectful yet attentive service will leave you feeling relaxed and unrushed.
At Portas da Cidade you can order a dish that you most likely could never replicate as well at home. So instead of having grilled sirloin, baked scallops or broiled salmon, which are on the menu and surely delicious, try a Portuguese classic! You may enjoy the Carne Alentejana (marinated pork with potatoes and littlenecks), Bacalhau (codfish), and Espetada (steak shish-ka-bob). Portas da Cidade also serves a delicious Caldo Verde, a blended kale soup with chourico and potato broth.
Lindsey’s eye catching sign stands tall over with large curvy red letters reminiscent of the Friendly’s sign. You may expect to find a similar menu inside. Not so.
The restaurant offers an extensive menu but is known for its seafood. Now, if you are on the hunt for a great seafood dinner, you might pass Lindsey’s by as you fly down the Cranberry Highway. The restaurant sign does not shout “the best lobster bisque you’ve ever tasted!”. Pass by quickly and you’ll notice nary a lobster tail nor nautical nuance in sight.
Now that you are in the know, stop in for a bowl of lobster bisque swimming with chunks of lobster meat, scallops and shrimp or the lobster casserole stuffed with tail and claw meat. The fried seafood platter is mammoth and mouth-watering. If you are a seafood minimalist, enjoy a steamed lobster or a bowl of steamed clams.
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