Monday, January 3, 2011


East Side: Bar & Burgers

Fat Belly's (125 Canal Street, Providence  401-351-3434) recently opened a Providence location in the renovated site of the old 3 Steeple grill. It's one of four Fat Belly's around the state (the others are in East Greenwich, Wakefield and Warwick). The building itself is great, notable as the oldest industrial building in Providence (c1793). When 3 Steeple was in the space you could feel the aura of Providence history (as well as the cold if you were sitting against a brick wall). Unfortunately, food-wise, there wasn't anything to recommend 3 Steeple - even the burgers were mediocre.

So Fat Belly's moves in to the polished-up gem of a location and serves its much acclaimed (RI Monthly, Yankee Magazine, etc.) bar menu. Here are the results. Positives: the space is no longer drafty/cold in the winter; service is good; and everything is cleaner. Negatives: it's all about televisions and signs; seats are packed tight; it's hard to notice you are in an historic building at all; the food is high carb, high fat, grown-up McDonald's.

The appetizer list has the usuals: wings in the major taste groups (Buffalo, bbq, teriyaki and garlic parm), calamari, chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, nachos, bacon and cheese fries and truffle fries. The rest of the menu follows the theme, from the Fat Belly Burger (laden with caramelized onions, melted american cheese and fried onion sticks, bacon, lettuce and tomato) to the Shaved Steak & Cheese, BBQ pizza, paninis and wraps, etc. If you're trying to avoid banishment from Weight Watchers, about the best you can do is order the garden salad.

It's a big kid's paradise. They actually have a kid's menu but it's all a kid's menu.

If you want to eat this menu and watch lots of sports (I could view three different games from my seat), go to Fat Belly's. But if you want a cool old bar with some style and a good cheeseburger, forget it. The giant and not-special cheeseburger is pretty lame. But you will be stuffed, for sure.

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