In today’s modern world, we always seem to searching for the newest and latest thing. Our electronic devices are outdated as soon as we get them home. Bluetooth in our cars seemed like the newest technology just a few years ago, yet now cars can be their own wireless hotspots. Then there is modernist cuisine and molecular gastronomy – food for the diner who wants to be on the cutting edge. Sometimes though, enough is enough! We long to return to the simpler times when a steak was just a steak. The Post Office Café reopened in September with a classic menu in a classic building with the hope of becoming an East Greenwich restaurant classic.
The Post Office Café is located on Main Street in East Greenwich in one of the original locations of the United States Postal Service. Chef and owner John Granata had worked as a chef in the original Post Office Café before spending the last 13 years as the executive chef of Camille’s on Federal Hill in Providence.
The building was constructed in 1789, but you couldn’t tell. It’s gorgeous, and John has done a nice job with the renovations. He maintained the feeling of dining in a post office, complete with a window to buy stamps. The space is broken up with smaller dining rooms off of the main room, which contains the bar and a smattering of tables. I especially liked the large lobby area with comfortable chairs to relax in. It gave a nice buffer between the front doors and the bar area.
Speaking of the bar, I love sitting at the bar. Although the bar in the Post Office Café wasn’t large (only 12 seats), it was very comfortable. On the night I was there, it was full most of the night. My friend and I thought our bartender, Nick, was great. He was very knowledgeable about drinks and the dinner menu, and he had some very interesting stories to tell. I couldn’t resist ordering a Barrel Aged Manhattan ($11). Nick said it had been aging for about five weeks. I thought the flavors of the drink really mellowed out in the oak barrel. In fact, I enjoyed the drink so much, I drained the remainder of the barrel. My friend was happy to see they had Pawtucket’s Foolproof La Ferme Urbaine ($6) on tap. I was impressed that many of the featured cocktails on the drink menu contained spirits by South Kingstown’s Sons of Liberty. With our drinks, we enjoyed a basket of bread served with olive oil and crushed red pepper.
For starters, we sampled both the Flatbread ($12) and the Arrancini ($9). The flatbread pizza changes daily, and on this night it was topped with sausage, caramelized onions, banana peppers, mozzarella cheese and basil. The crust was thicker than most flatbreads, but it was flavorful. The toppings all tasted fresh, and we loved the thick layer of cheese that enveloped all of the other toppings. There were eight pieces, so it was plenty for sharing – even with a bigger group. I ordered the Arrancini (deep fried risotto balls) at the recommendation of a colleague. The idea of having them stuffed with Fontina cheese and short rib ragu was exciting to me, plus they were served with roasted tomato and pepper remoulade.
The entrées on the menu leaned heavily towards classic Italian cooking. My friend ordered the homemade Lobster Ravioli ($28) topped with a pesto cream sauce. Initially she wasn’t too sure about the sauce, but she loved it and enjoyed the different approach. The lobster meat in the ravioli was fresh and shredded to a fine texture – there’s nothing worse than chewy lobster ravioli. I opted for the Rib Eye ($29) because I craved a big steak, and a big steak was exactly what I got. The hand-cut rib eye was at least 16-ounces of meaty goodness, and it was topped with bacon jam (which is just as good as it sounds) and served with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables drizzled with truffle oil. The outside was seared in a cast iron skillet and then finished in the oven to a perfect medium rare. Coincidentally, the oven Chef John uses to cook his steaks was bought from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Providence when it closed earlier this year. The steak was well cooked, and at Ruth’s Chris this would have cost at least $5 more with no side dishes or bacon jam.
The desserts at the Post Office Café are all made in house. As full as I was, I tried a piece of the Ricotta Cheesecake ($8). It was a tasty Italian dessert, and the blueberry compote on the side was a nice touch. We did finish the whole piece, and considering how full we were, that’s saying a lot.
It is always a good thing to see local businesses thriving, and on the night I was there, the Post Office Café was doing just that. At the bar, we were all having a good time. My friend was watching college football with the party next to us, I was giving restaurant advice to the lady next to me, and everyone was enjoying the food and drinks. Instead of looking for the next “thing,” try the reinvented Post Office Café. Its historic ambience, their classic menu and the friendly staff will warm you up this winter.
Post Office Café
11 Main Street, East Greenwich