Restaurant Review

Twin Oaks on a budget

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We’ve been Twin Oaks fans since moving to Rhode Island in 1965. We remember ordering the quahog pie and a salad with roquefort for a buck. We remember our daughter ordering a toasted cheese sandwich and a strawberry sundae with a sparkler on top for her birthday, with the waiters singing “Happy Birthday” off key.

No more sparklers (fire safety laws), but the waiters still can’t carry a tune.

We’re tired of hearing Yogi Berra’s famous quote, ”Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” While it may be crowded on weekends and prime times, there is usually no wait during the week.

We still enjoy their baked stuffed shrimp and rare open steak, and we order it on special occasions (or when somebody else is treating). I get my shrimp with mashed potatoes in the middle. Joyce gets her steak extra rare. We are never disappointed.

As regular customers, retired and on a fixed income, we can’t afford steak and shrimp every time, so we have selected a number of modestly priced meals. In our senior years, we eat less at a sitting, taking home half our meal and literally cutting the meal price in half.

Here are a few of our favorites:

We often settle for water, but since their bartenders are the best in the state and drink prices are still some of the lowest in the state, Joyce will occasionally enjoy a Black Russian (the most generously poured in R.I.), and I will get the best Bloody Mary anywhere.

The bread basket is generous, filled with warm rolls.

Appetizers are usually not necessary, but I recommend their stuffies at only $2.75. If you are a true Rhode Islander, try the smelts, a rare treat to be shared at $8.75.

A sandwich at lunch comes with a load of hot French fries. My favorite is the Wild Oaker, stuffed with turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce ($9.95). Joyce likes their hamburgers, always fresh, juicy, tender and, in her case, rare. ($7.75-$10.50).

My favorite entrée is the Provini Veal Cutlet, real veal gently cooked, served with red (Joyce) or brown (Don) gravy. I like it with mashed potatoes and cole slaw; Joyce has pasta. The large dinner comes with two generous pieces, but one is plenty for me. A bargain at $10.95.

My friend Tom ordered a pork chop with mashed and beets, and it was all he could do to finish the thick, tender chop. Again, the dinner comes with two chops, but you can get the one for only $13.50.

While Twin Oaks features a number of high end meals, including lobster, salmon, swordfish and crab legs, if you are a seafood lover, their baked scrod is as good as it gets ($14.95). The fish and chips special on Friday hangs off your large plate and is always good for leftovers on Saturday.

Twin Oaks bottles and sells their spaghetti sauce and still carries on its fine tradition of Italian cooking.

The Italian Combination Plate ($13.95) is a challenge to any big eater, featuring meatballs, sausage, peppers, spaghetti and, for a dollar more, veal.

The biggest bargain on the menu is the chop sirloin plate for $8.50. I prefer it over steak (too lazy to chew).

We are usually too stuffed for dessert, but on occasion I will order their better-than-Mom-used-to-make Grapenut Pudding and bring it home for later ($3.95).

And no matter what I order, Gene, my favorite waiter, is there with a grin to tell me, “Excellent choice.”

And it always is.

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