In my quest for trying many new restaurants in the Providence area this summer, my friend and I decided to head to the newly opened (August 1) 'North Side Grille' on Mineral Spring Avenue. It's been under construction for about six months (maybe longer?) located in the former 'Bickfords Restaurant'.
Again, it seems as though the place has been under renovations for a long while, but I'm not sure what was renovated. The inside looks different than from what I remembered from Bickfords, yet it didn't look "new" (especially not the bathroom! ). Tables, booths, fixtures, etc. - everything looked like it was used (chipped/scratched) and worn (either from Bickford's or another restaurant). A bit of a turn off for me, considering it's a new restaurant.
The menu is very basic and simple, non-pretentious. No-frills appetizers (calamari, onion rings, etc), salads, sandwiches, burgers, a few pasta and chicken entrees. Nothing really "jumped out", nothing really "tempting", nothing "different" nor "intriguing". What was a nice surprise: the prices did reflect this simplicity - they were very affordable (compared to what some other restaurants have been charging for similar offerings - starting with 'Everyman Bistro' and 'Euro Cafe' which I both reviewed recently).
We skipped the apps since there really was nothing that 'stuck out'. My friend and I settled on burgers for dinner. She chose "The Original Burger" (which she could add a few toppings) while I chose the "Bacon Cheese Burger". I must say, the burgers were huge and served on a ciabalta roll/bun. They were cooked to our specifications (why has that been a problem with other restaurants lately?) and juicy and delicious. We chose the 'hand cut' potato chips as our 'sides' at the suggestion of our waitress, and they were just as good as the burger as well as very filling. Both burgers came to about $8 each - very worth it.
For dessert our choices were "Vanilla-bean Cheesecake" (which seems to be a staple on everyone's menu these days) and something called a "Chocolate Bomb Cake" (ditto) - the food suppliers must be offering a special on these two desserts this summer! We each settled on the chocolate cake, which was a moist chocolate layer/mousse cake. Nothing surprising, except the price (each dessert under $4 while I've been paying $6-$8 for the same dessert at other 'cafes' and 'grilles').
Service was friendly and helpful, though our waitress was a bit on the 'nervous' side. The manager ( a bit nervous herself) visited our table a few times to make sure everything was to our liking, and then asking if we would return again as we were leaving. Could be because we were only one of three tables taken in the whole restaurant at 7 PM on a summer night.
Burgers/drinks/desserts for two, including a 20% tip (no alcoholic beverages were ordered) came to $21 a piece. Not bad at all.
Overall, it seemed to be a scaled-down 'Greggs' or 'Chelos'. I definitely recommend for a family restaurant with a simple menu, generous portions, and affordable prices. If you're looking for a filling "cheap eat" with family or friends (especially in this economy), this is also the place to go. (Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days).
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