LOVELY LOCATION Take it outside at the Beach Rose.
When a foodie friend (whose bedtime reading is cookbooks) recommended Beach Rose Café, I immediately took notice. She and hubby like to eat lunch out, and they've made several repeat visits to this eatery, another sure sign that owners Tim and Jamie Sharpe are doing something (or a bunch of things) just right.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, three of us made the pilgrimage to this spot next to Wickford's harbor and the tidal stream that flows from it under the Brown Street bridge. It won't be long until the outside deck tables will be full, with kids watching ducks (and the occasional swan), parents gazing at sailboats, and everyone enjoying the sun on their faces.
Though it was still a tad chilly for that on our visit, the light streaming in the side windows and two large bay windows at the front of the café enveloped us in sunshine. In the remaining wall space are intriguing scenes of Wickford, photographed and Photoshopped by Arthur Hardman (official opening March 16; the show continues through end of the month).
Ah, but it's the food we came for: sandwiches, wraps, paninis, salads, soups, and seafood plates. The L-shaped space, with the kitchen tucked to one side and almost behind the dining area, keeps any fried-food smells completely out of range. But then again, the fried clam strips on our friend Baiba's clam roll, the French fries we shared, the home-made potato chips — all tasted very fresh and not at all greasy, so the cooks are doing a fine job, too.
Poring over the menu, with my friends' favorites in my head — club wraps, with grilled chicken or chicken tenders; pea soup with ham; sirloin on a torpedo roll; pastrami and cheese melt — I found it hard to make a decision until I came to the California chicken ($7.95), tugged in by the guacamole and cucumber/yogurt sauce, plus lettuce and tomato. As my friend had described, these folks know precisely how to wrap a sandwich so that you don't get multiple folds of bread in one place; the chicken is fresh-grilled breast but then chunked so that biting into it doesn't pull the whole thing apart; the sauces make it extra delicious.
The aforementioned clam roll ($9.95, and listed as "seasonal") had a nice, creamy coleslaw with it, a particularly good tartar sauce, a nice side of fries, and beaucoup de clam strips, which we all nibbled on. We also shared (and mmmmm-ed over) the Beach Rose salad — greens with dried cranberries, crumbled blue cheese, glazed pecans, chopped carrots, poached pears, and a raspberry vinaigrette. The pears were poached with spices that were especially good.
Along with my chicken wrap, I sampled a cup of the New England clam chowder ($4.50). This was on the money for me in so many ways: not overwhelmed with unusual spices nor bacon, the clam broth came through; it was delicately creamy without being too thick creamy (most likely milk, instead of cream); and the clams were way more plentiful than the potatoes and quite sweet and wonderful.