Daydreaming About Carbs

Guest blogger Stephen Donovan tells us about dining out on a no-carb diet.

Guest blogger Stephen Donovan is excited to be living in Providence. As the new co-host of "The Heather and Steve Show" on LiteRock 105.1  with Heather Gersten, he is exploring the local dining scene and will blog about his adventures for Rhode Island Monthly each month. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenDonovan1.
 

You know what you do when you have a monthly blog about RI restaurants and then go on a no-carb diet? Daydream. You daydream about food that tastes good. You sing Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes “The Love I Lost.” You reminisce about the good old days, of bread and pizza and sugar.

I used to be a man about town! Since the start of this year, I had proudly dined out 145 times and you know what every one of those meals had?
 Carbs! Sweet, delicious, nonjudgmental, happy-to-see-me carbs! Fantastic Thanksgiving-style “Turkey Thursday” subs for lunch at Schroder’s Deli in Riverside! Or what about Frittata Fridays over at The Sandwich Hut! Egg and cheese frittatas, filled with everything that is right about America…

I remember the last carbs I had – a little over two weeks ago at the tantalizing, Barrington Pizzeria (188 County Rd., Barrington, 401-247-2202, barringtonpizzeria.com). It was a culinary carb-loaded celebration of a large bbq chicken sub with mozzarella cheese, with not one but two bags of bbq kettle chips – it was heaven. (A brief aside – for my money, if you’re looking to get into the pizza-making business, you gotta have the name of the town in the name of your place. The pizza will taste 20 percent better, guaranteed – 25 percent, if you can work in “House of Pizza” while you’re at it. You rarely see any other food item used for a house. I’ve never seen a Portsmouth House of Knockwurst or Tiverton House of Kumquats. But, a (fill-in-the-blank-hometown) House of Pizza? Almost a must-have for every municipality. But, I digress…)

If you’re like me, and are looking to embark on a carb-restricted diet, have no fear, my friend. Our fine state still has plenty of options as you try to slim down to get into a bathing suit before the winter returns. You can find everything you need to eat healthy at Eastside Marketplace (165 Pitman St., Providence, 401-831-7771, eastsidemarket.com), a more-than-friendly destination for the freshest ingredients. (Here’s hoping the new corporate overlords at Stop and Shop realize what a gem they just purchased and leave well enough alone…)

You don’t even have to forgo the undeniable joys of dining out on a no-carb diet. Last week, I was lucky enough to find myself in Julians (318 Broadway, Providence, 401-861-1770, juliansprovidence.com). I bellied up to the bar, told the barkeep of my plight, and without batting an eye, pooh-poohed any concerns I may have. A scant eighteen minutes later, what should arrive on my plate but a delicious piece of steak, grilled asparagus on the side, and nary a carb to be found.

Bonus points to the good people of Julians for, without question, the greatest bathroom in the state. I can’t vouch for the goings-on in the ladies room, but the men’s room has not one but two glass memorabilia cases (one of Pez dispensers, one of Star Wars action figures), with a TV showing WWF wrestling highlights from the 1980s. (My visit coincided with a particularly stirring title defense by the Iron Sheikh.) I challenge you to have more fun in a restaurant bathroom and not get in trouble.

“Wait a minute!” I can hear you saying, “What about vacation? You don’t mean to tell me that you can still enjoy yourself at restaurants on vacation with a no-carb diet?” Of course!

This past week, I happened to spend the afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard (one of the benefits of doing morning radio: your workday can end before noon, some days). As luck would have it, my friend and I met Caroline riding the ferry. In addition to riding the ferry filled with thirty pounds of Chinese food in a cooler, Caroline also tends bar at the Red Cat Kitchen at Ken ’n’ Beck, one of the finest eateries on the island (14 Kennebec Ave., Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, 508-696-6040, redcatkitchen.com).

My friend Dave and I took her up on her recommendation, and enjoyed one of the finest meals of the year. I enjoyed a halibut that was swimming through the neighborhood just hours before, and crispy Brussels sprouts that were tasty enough to risk public ridicule by bragging in public how good they were.

As an added bonus, Caroline let Dave borrow her cooler to take beers with him into the Martha’s Vineyard-Worcester minor league baseball game later that night (true story). That’s above and beyond service right there.

So has my culinary life ended since I’ve dropped carbs? No.

Have I had my last slice of pizza? Heck, no.

Do I daydream about breaking into Pastiche and eating everything in sight? Maybe.

Will I still be no-carb next month? You’ll just have to check back in and see…