Sunday, June 12, 2011


My fear that good burgers were not available in Rhode Island was unfounded - several excellent candidates for great burger have been identified. BUT, the best have been served in atmospheres too tony for proper cheeseburger appreciation. What's with this? Do you really go to New Rivers or Cook & Brown Public House for a burger and is it really a burger if it's served with ratatouille, if you eat it while drinking red wine? I think not. Important issues here. So we've tried a corner bar (actually mid-block), Ivy Tavern (758 Hope St), and Fat Belly's (at the foot of Steeple St - part of a Rhode Island mini-chain), and Trinity Brewhouse (on Fountain Street in downtown Providence). Ivy Tavern is an okay place and the burger is decent but there's nothing notable about the venue or menu to draw you back. Fat Belly's is too fake old for me but my friend thinks it's okay. The atmosphere is similar to those ersatz Irish bars where the woodwork is gorgeous and every detail looks "historic" from the moment the place opens for business. The burger was ho-hum. And Trinity Brewhouse, far from cozy, produces a so-so burger.

Doherty's East Avenue (342 East Avenue, Pawtucket  401-725-1800) is more what I had in mind. The furnishings weren't rescued from an Irish castle and the bar isn't a thirty-foot expanse of mahogany; in fact, it's borderline tacky. The crowd runs young to old, a mix of types. Doherty's is busy from early evening to late. It's an after-the-movies option.

The menu is typical bar food, heavy on whatever you can fry or load with butter. The beer list is huge. The burger is satisfying, points off for being pre-shaped and served on an over-large bun but points in favor for really good taste. Doherty's, located way up on East Avenue in Pawtucket (Hope Street turns into East Avenue at the Pawtucket line) doesn't get the end-of-day bar business of suited young lawyers you see downtown or on South Main; it draws from a wider city. Maybe that's why it seems so relaxed.

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