Friday, December 2, 2016

Off the Map: If This Were a Real New York System, It Would Be Called a HOT DOG

Hot Wieners -- Olneyville New York System, Providence, RI
Olneyville NY System

After a completely humdrum experience at Al Forno, Vodka and her friend, Mezcal, are ready for one thing and one thing only: a hot dog. 
Now You're Speaking Our Language
Luckily, the only other dish featured on Providence's Best Thing I Ever Ate list is the hot wieners from Olneyville New York System, which were recommended by Guy Fieri on the REGIONAL FAVORITES episode.
New York, Phone Home
Yes, That's Right, Providence. We're Just Here to Eat
Thankfully, the establishment is our preferred level of "nearly empty" when our (blessedly more competent Uber driver) drops us off, and we mosey onto two stools as Vodka asks for "two hot dogs all the way," you know, just like the locals do.

Grave mistake.
Miss Congeniality, This Place Is Not
"First time here?" a worker asks. "Cause they're wieners."

"Well, I was close," Vodka retorts.

"Not really," the guy informs her.
Listen, Buddy -- Perhaps You Should Hang Onto the Customers You've Got
Despite Vodka's error, he still deigns to place a "wiener" in front of each of us, piled up with chili, onions, mustard, and celery salt. 
Kudos for the Split Plates
He also provides us each with a pour of their famous "coffee milk" to wash down the wiener. And less than two minutes later, both our plates and our glasses are empty.
Is This Coffee Milk Caffeinated? Because We Have to Go to Sleep in Like Ten Minutes
The hot dogs (which despite being corrected, we insist on calling them) are indeed quite good. Not one of our personal favorites, but good all the same. 
Polished Off in Thirty Seconds or Less
Though the coffee milk, which is essentially the coffee version of chocolate milk, is arguably more interesting than the dogs themselves.
Plus, They Inexplicably Gave Us a Bumper Sticker. Perhaps We Can Give It to Our Uber Driver
When we leave the premises, we pose for a selfie underneath a sign proclaiming "EAT," which is pretty much our whole reason for coming to Providence in the first place. It is at this point that a random person parked on the street steps out of his car to offer to take the picture for us, an act of goodwill so generous that we momentarily consider upping the hot wieners' rating to 5 stars.
"Momentarily" Being the Key Word
But then again, that is a privilege reserved only for hot dogs.

Olneyville New York System's Hot Wieners: 4 stars

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Off the Map: You'll Have to Excuse Us, Providence -- We Almost Died

Golden Delicious Apple Tart -- Al Forno, Providence, RI
Al Forno

Here is the difference between Vodka and the Providence, RI, Uber drivers: she expected to make it out of their town alive; they felt no obligation to fulfill this expectation.
Oh Yes, By All Means, Feel Free to Drive Right Through This Fence
At least, this is the conclusion Vodka has drawn after a particularly reckless driver decided that highway medians were merely rough guidelines, and certainly something that his minivan could plow over without incident. Guess what? There was an incident.
Because Somehow, When It Comes to Us, There Is ALWAYS An Incident
When, by some miracle, Vodka and her friend, Mezcal, manage to arrive at Al Forno relatively unscathed, we are not exactly in our right minds. 
And the 93 Possible Entrances With Locked Doors Don't Help
Full on ignoring the bustling bar area of the restaurant, Vodka asks our seemingly confused waiter, "Do you have cocktails or just wine?" as if she has absolutely no idea how one orders alcohol. 
Heaven Knows She's Done Enough of It in Her Day -- It Should Surely Be Second Nature by Now
Additionally, while attempting to photograph the corn on the cob ceiling decor, it takes Vodka much longer than it should to realize that her flash is inexplicably turned on (one of her own top 10 restaurant pet peeves), resulting in not only blurry pictures, but Vodka scolding herself in an unintelligible rant.
"Wait, Is My Flash On?! How Is My Flash On?! My Flash Is Never On!"
Once Vodka Remembered How to Use Her Camera
It is in this state that our waiter decides to start an endless monologue featuring the most prolific list of dinner specials known to man (which, not for nothing, it is soon revealed that at least half of these dishes are already "sold out." In which case, why don't you STOP TELLING US ABOUT THEM so we can all move on with our lives? After all, if the Providence Uber drivers have anything to say about it, we won't have much of our lives left to live.)
No Need for Niceties -- Just Bring Us Some Food
Once he is finally finished enlightening us, we settle on the fedelini with rib eye meatballs and a Manhattan (Vodka) and the pepperoni pizza with a class of Malbec (Mezcal). 
Call Us Crazy, But Pretty Sure the Olive Garden Could Do Better
While we wait, we receive a bread basket with the teeniest, tiniest pitcher of olive oil this side of the Atlantic, leaving us to assume that along with running out of all of their nightly specials, Al Forno is also beginning to run low on its condiments.
Can You Spot the Miniature Olive Oil?
Our entrees end up being strictly "fine," if verging on pedestrian. But after all, they are not the reason we're here. That distinction falls on the golden delicious apple tart, as recommended by Alex Guarnaschelli on the SWEET TOOTH episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate
We Nearly Lost Our Lives for You, Apple Tart. You Best Be Worth It
The tart itself is indeed as pretty as Alex had described, with extremely thin slices of apple tucked into a bed of dough and powdered sugar. 
Essentially a Pie Without Its Top
And its taste? Well, it's certainly not bad. The crust is thin and ever-so-slightly browned, the apples aren't overpoweringly sweet, and the combination of the two is pleasing enough.
Why Eat the Fruit When You Can Eat the Carbs?
But is it life-changing? Definitely not. Would it convince us to make another trip to Al Forno, or to Providence itself? Not necessarily.

Especially not if a median stood in our way.

Al Forno's Golden Delicious Apple Tart: 3 stars