Located in the new Tasting Center on Main Street in downtown Newport, this restaurant has a spare, industrial décor that belies the creativity of its offerings. My wife and I were eager to try out this new venture and we were not disappointed. We were waited on by an effervescent waitress named Anna who seemed quite excited to be serving at the Brown Dog Bistro. She made several suggestions on dining choices which proved excellent. I started with a watermelon gazpacho, a concoction which I would have to say is one of the most unusual dishes I have ever tasted. This spicy cold soup was filled with chunks of fresh watermelon and complemented with pieces of pickled watermelon rind. Amazingly unique! My wife had roasted garlic and white bean soup which she thought was good, but after tasting my soup, judged to be less original. I followed the soup with a sautéed squid dish which also boasted a quite unusual preparation. Whereas the majority of squid dishes are prepared as a fried calamari with some sort of remoulade or Thai dipping sauce, particularly in a bistro setting, the squid here was sautéed in a mildly sweet sauce with golden raisins; again, very unique in my experience. My wife had mussels in white wine. While the flavor was quite good, the mussels were mildly undercooked and thus difficult to open. My main was a steak frites. This was ordered very rare, and came out exactly as ordered. Kudos to the chef! The steak was served atop a large portion of fries with a house-made mayonnaise and a delicious house-made chipotle ketchup. My "beef" with this dish was two-fold: first, it came out immediately following the serving of the squid, and second, the dish was served upon a piece of butcher paper. While this was no doubt done due to the presence of the fries, it made the task of cutting the steak difficult and I kept thinking I was going to eat a piece of paper as the paper disintegrated with my slicing. I think at a restaurant of this caliber, the paper was out of place. My wife ordered filet mignon which she also ordered extremely rare and was rewarded with thin slices of filet "cooked to perfection". This was served atop a more-than-generous serving of mashed potatoes, the whole topped with home-made onion rings. For dessert, I ordered a frozen citrus soufflé. I can only describe this as brilliantly citrus, bursting with flavor and again, rather original. My wife had a flourless chocolate torte with caramel sauce. She felt this had good flavor but was somewhat dry. To sum up, I think this was an excellent meal at an establishment just getting it's feet wet. There were a number of elements that were far beyond the typical offerings of a bistro, and stood as inherently unique, whatever the setting, suitable for an upscale restaurant in midtown Manhattan. I would unhesitatingly recommend this restaurant to locals and tourists alike.
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