The best burger in Providence, brick by brick
The Abbey may resemble just another corner grub pub, but I'm here to declare that this Elmhurst mainstay (near the Providence College campus) is home to the best cheeseburger in Providence. It's a bold statement, but owners Jay and Michelle Hoff (who also own the successful and vibrant Buster Krab's in Narragansett) have taken the art of burger assembly to the proverbial next level by teaming with the Cheese & Burger Society (hit cheeseandburger.com, narrated by Patrick Warburton) earlier this year and adding 14 of their diabolical and delicious creations to their dozen or so Signature Burgers.
Travel and Leisure magazine recently named Providence the #3 Burger city in America; the Abbey certainly played a role in garnering those esteemed props. The Hoffs (along with managing partners Katie and Phil Giguere) take exceptional pride in hand-crafting just about everything on the menu, from their killer potato chips to the desserts. In fact, they claim to not even have a freezer on the premises.
The Abbey is named in honor of the Trappist monks who sold their wheels of cheese and barrels of brews in order to fund their monasteries. Appropriately, they carry many esteemed Belgian beers (Orval, Leffe Blond, Duvel) plus traditional Trappist selections (Wiitekerke, Hoegaarden, and Gulden Draak, each served in their proper glassware). But fear not, imbiber of mass-produced American lagers, the Abbey has you covered too — there are 92 beers in all. The brain trust has paired a brew with each menu item, allowing their customers to "sit back and enjoy the results of when 'foodies' and 'beeries' come together and mate two of life's little treasures."
I brought along a hungry crew of first-timers seeking burger nirvana for a midweek visit. A lone waitress zipped around while we eventually seated ourselves. Three of us opted for bottles of Wells Banana Bread Beer ($5.75), while Sarah had a Miller High Life ($3.25). Fernando, Omar, and I agreed on onion rings and homemade potato chips ($6.99 each) and boneless buffalo tenders ($8.99) to start. Pedestrian options, you say? Think again. The 10 thick-cut battered O-rings (created and paired with Smithwick's Ale) were light and crispy, and the in-house BBQ chipotle sauce (one of seven dipping sauces available for $1.50 each) found its way onto some of the chips. The hand-battered buffalo fingers were also top-rate (as they should be at $9 per order (our request for extra hot sauce went unfulfilled due to the busy waitress and one bartender on duty, contending with a crew of hungry, off-duty softball dudes barking at the hapless Sox; there are plenty of hi-defs here, and NFL Sunday Ticket as well). Sarah decided on a Jamaican Jerk Chicken Salad special, a bit pricey at $11.99 but points scored for the addition of white raisins and a nice zing provided by the orange-mango vinaigrette. We also jumped on one of eight fire-grilled pizza creations. The crispy shell foundation held up well under "the Avobaken" ($11.50), a simple and tasty combo of sliced avocado, chopped bacon, and diced chicken with mozzarella and the Abbey's own (of course) marinara.
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