Crazy Burger Too
Crazy Burger Too
1039 Chalkstone Ave., Providence
Open daily for dinner, 4-9 p.m. weekdays; Fri-Sat, until 30 minutes after the last movie gets out
Bar open until 2 a.m.
Major credit cards
You donít have to be devotees of the original Crazy Burger in Narragansett (as we are) to fall for the delicious food, cheeky staff, and welcoming décor at Crazy Burger Too, located in the Castle Cinema. You also donít have to be film fanatics, but it adds to the fun to order from those oversized seats in two of the theaters and from stadium seating with pull-out arms on the chairs in the third. But if youíre up for just a medium-fancy meal (linen tablecloths and napkins) and not-so-fancy prices (burgers start at $6.95, entrees top out at $16.95), there are two very pleasant dining rooms ó one near the bustle of the small bar near the front door, and one very quiet space in the back.
We loved looking at the ceiling of the front dining room. Though it is higher than Crazy Burgerís in Narragansett, and quite a bit tamer, it is still crowded with paper lanterns and globes, glass balls and chain-hung sconces, all in different colors and hanging among schoolroom-style glass-globe lights. Three sets of beaded curtains hanging on a wall near the bar pick up the retro-í70s theme.
This playfulness continues with the menu descriptions. One of the appetizers is called "those chicken things," meaning odd-shaped white meat morsels that are crisp-fried and served with a choice of sauces. Another is titled "nacho mamas," referring, we presume, to its quantity, a large heap of tortilla chips covered with spiced beef and chipotle-cheese sauce, with house-made salsa on the side.
Cruising through other possibilities, we found the "wrap-uums" (including a nod to the neighborhood ó the Mount Pleasant Steak Bomber ó and a wink to the clientele on the other side of the dietary spectrum ó the "edgy veggie"); and the "Academy Award-Winning Burgers" (three beef, one chicken, and two veggie ones, including a favorite from Narragansett, the "wild and crazy mushroom burger"). We landed on the grilled pizzas and chose "the Champ" ($10.95), with a roasted red pepper-cashew pesto as its base (the other three choices are two pizzas with marinara sauce and cheese or grilled chicken, and a white one with spinach, mushrooms, and feta). The Champ was delicious, with grilled portobello and eggplant slices, a bit of fresh mozzarella, the whole drizzled with red pepper oil. The pizza was also topped by a handful of mesclun, wilted slightly by the heat, though this unexpected salad is described on the menu as "steamed greens."
Bill kept coming back to the Pacific Rim rolls ($7.95) among the appetizers. They are eight two-bite-sized egg rolls, stuffed with chopped chicken, and served with a dynamite spicy Thai peanut sauce. The menu mentioned Bangkok slaw tucked in with the chicken, but it wasnít discernible to us.
For entrees, we selected chicken framboise ($16.95) and bayou ravioli ($15.95), the latter a specialty of chef Len Jackson, who developed the menu along with Crazy Burger chef/owner Mike Maxson. Despite a staff personís comment that the bayou ravioli was "soggy, but not entirely undelicious," I loved it. She had suggested asking for the sauce on the side, which was an excellent guard against the sogginess factor. What neither one of us understood, and what goes unmentioned in the menu, is that the ravioli are fried. In fact, they were quite yummy. A thin sweet potato dough is wrapped around a filling of crawfish, roasted red peppers, cream and brandy. The resulting five ravioli are served with a wonderful smoked-tomato Creole sauce.
Bill, meanwhile, was glorying in his large boneless breast of chicken atop a bed of rice, mixed with corn and spinach. The sauce over and around the dish was a raspberry beurre blanc with a nice sweet-and-sour zing. The only problem, once again, was the menu description. It stated that the breast was filled with Gorgonzola and Mascarpone. We hunted and could not find any.
So, although everything we had was tasty, it wasnít quite what we expected, even the raspberry Key lime pie ($5.25), a signature dish at Crazy Burger. Am I dreaming in remembering a fresh raspberry sauce on top? This was drizzled decoratively with a red puree that did not assert itself as raspberry. The Key lime filling had the right pucker power, but Iíve never been a fan of the Graham cracker crust and whipped cream deviation from the original recipe. Give me piecrust and meringue.
Nonetheless, a family with young kids at a nearby table was thrilled to have this eating-out spot in their neighborhood. Maxson is enjoying the challenge of running Castle Cinemaís food concession. And the staff is comfortable enough to be candid (especially Andrew the bartender). In addition to showing second-run films, the Castle is sponsoring "Bring your own movie nights," and live performances. Check out www.castlecinema.com for more details.