Saturday, October 13, 2012


At the time of my first visit, Hourglass Brasserie (382 Thames Street, Bristol  401-396-9811) was in its fledgling days. Our group was divided, those in favor, those not. I thought the menu veered to the "French" we Americans tend to like - what we think is proper brasserie food, i.e., familiar. And I admit that cheap French prints on the wall put me further off, which is STUPID since we were there for food not decor, but I was put off nonetheless.

Since that first outing we've had a good night and a great night. On the good night just about everything worked (and my wee little spicy shrimp soup was near perfect) but nobody raved (and I complained about salty bacon overpowering the monkfish). And when prices are high relative to the neighborhood the food/price ratio matters a lot. If you say, "Wow, that was expensive but it was sooooooo good" you'll probably return; if you say "That was a price performer" you'll probably return too. But if you find yourself mumbling "Seemed kind of pricey to me" on the way to the car that's another story.

Next dinner was perfect, four diners, four A grades. Hughly successful: citrus-marinated salmon - so delicious I'd be happy to have it again and again. Cod was perfectly cooked, braised short ribs robust but not heavy, sole delicate, etc. Accompanying vegetables were tasty works of art. I check the Hourglass menu occasionally and it changes. This annoys some people but it thrills me because I already have established (secret?) haunts for comfort foods, I know where to go for broiled scrod and chicken pot pie. Hourglass needs to raise the bar, show me a good time, really insist that I return because the experience is so positive. It has to be tough for an owner/chef to pull this off, tough enough in Providence but triple tough in Bristol where the dining crowd shrinks in the winter and the sidewalks roll up at 8:00 p.m. (seriously, we tried to make a reservation for 8:00 one winter Thursday at Persimmon and they asked if we could come at 7:00). Here's hoping.

P. S., the prints on the wall were replaced with posters.

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