While the walk is a bit of a schlep, nothing beats an early weekend brunch at Red Stripe (even Loui’s). This upscale Wayland Square American-style restaurant can be quite pricey, so we recommend going during lunchtime, which is also when the restaurant boasts an expanded menu with better options. While almost every dish we’ve tried has been generously proportioned and of highest quality, there is one offer from Red Stripe that trumps all else: the frites. With a name we can only describe as a “fancy man’s French fry,” these frites are thinly cut and generously salted French fries served with an understated yet well-suited cheese aioli, a combination which these writers can truthfully claim has redefined the traditional French fry. If all else fails, order the frites.
In addition to the renowned fried potatoes, Red Stripe also offers a fantastic Cobb salad with a zesty dressing, the most flavorful pastrami sandwich this Jew has ever tasted, and unique mussels dishes at reasonable prices, which, conveniently, are served with frites. The grilled cheese — traditional or with a poached pear — is also delicious and served with either tomato soup or frites (you can guess our personal choice). Anyone aching for some home-style American food with a twist can find it at Red Stripe. Oh, and also frites. Don’t forget about those.
Featured dish: frites
Abyssinia is the only Ethiopian place we have ever heard of — and we’re from New York, the home of exotic foods if there ever were one. You likely have never heard of Ethiopian food either, and the fact that it is eaten exclusively with your hands (you should feel embarrassed if you ask for silverware) probably doesn’t make it all the more appealing. Yet the savory richness of the meats and vegetables as well as the spongy pancake-like bread served alongside is well worth the experiment. The dishes served at this hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Wickenden Street are certainly unusual: chicken served in-bone with spicy, tasty gravy and a hard-boiled egg; lentils well-cooked into a deep, rich, stew-like consistency; and uncooked beef served minced with a tangy sauce.
Our personal favorites are key wot (beef with spicy sauce and a moderating cheese), and doro wot (the spicy chicken mentioned above). Abyssinia also boasts a selection of delicious vegetarian dishes that make the mouths of carnivores like us water. If you are extra hungry and in an especially experimental mood, we would recommend one of the meat combinations, which come with a sampling of all the vegetarian dishes. BYOB (with no uncorking cost) is an added bonus.
Featured dish: doro wot
Luxe Burger Bar
If Brown ever had to create a burger joint, this would be the one. A self-acclaimed “build your own burger” restaurant, Luxe Burger Bar allows its clientele to choose from a wide range of meats, cheeses, toppings, premium toppings (pulled pork and pastrami, anyone?), and sauces into a one-of-a-kind personalized burger. This New Curriculum-type restaurant is well-suited for the experimental Brown individual, and “by cultivating such openness, you will learn to make the most of the freedom you have, and to chart the broadest possible intellectual journey. Okay, that was taken from the Dean of the College on the New Curriculum, but I do think it applies to building your own burger, don’t you? Maybe we take meat too seriously.
But actually, the burgers offered at this restaurant are high-quality and very tasty, and at a reasonable price — although located directly across from the hotsy totsy too-expensive-even-during-Restaurant-Week Capital Grille. For those watching their waist, the menu allows for lean turkey and whole-wheat bun, neither of which detracts from the tastiness of the sandwich. And for those not watching their waist, there is a “pimp your fries” option allowing you to add anything from bacon to chili to sour cream right on top of the French fry side dish.
Featured dish: make your own burger