Whether you fancy a beautiful bay view while dining or a cozy bistro-style setting, Bristol has it covered. We dined at two places recently, Thames Waterside Bar & Grill and Le Central, both unique and uniquely delicious.
Thames Waterside has been around for years, and it shows in seamless serving even at busy times. We sat on the outside deck one very sunny day, with spectacular views of Narragansett Bay and across it, the uber-posh environs of the Poppasquash Road neighborhood and its multi-million dollar homes, an upscale neck of the Bristol Woods once called home by Oscar winner Anthony Quinn.
A killer view is one thing, good food is another — and Thames has both in spades. We had a mid-afternoon lunch of littleneck clams, Bristol-style: a dozen clams sautéed in beer, garlic, chorizo and kale, served with crispy bread for dunking, and mussels in garlic sauce, both immense and filling.
A couple glasses of wine to accompany the meal completed the picture, as did the gentle stylings of a musician on the restaurant’s popular open-air top deck, who crooned a meteorologically appropriate tune for this scorching day, Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.”
Later that night, we took dinner at Le Central on Hope Street, a lovely little bistro with a decidedly French atmosphere, with wide-open dining spaces, comfy cushioned bench seating at tables next to the restaurant’s frosted front window, and a long wooden bar for drinking and/or eating. A nice touch is old photos on the walls showing what the place used to be ages ago, which at one time was a pharmacy.
The place has been owned for years by Chef Jesse James, and the man knows his stuff, making virtually everything on site – including a masterful charcuterie pate de champagne, with rosette de Lyon dry sausage, duck liver mousse, herbed goat cheese, house pickles, cornichon, and olives. We also went with grilled confit duck leg and fennel sausage, which comes with house-made kimchi and sweet potato puree, and coriander grilled shrimp and avocado salad, a light dish of whopping proportion. If you have room – you likely won’t – give the crème brulee a shot for dessert, you won’t regret it.
With or without an ocean view, Bristol’s dining options are many, and very, very tasty.
Photos by Paul E. Kandarian