Reflections on Stripmall Eating
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Chouriça a Go-Go
Location: 181 Columbia Street, Fall River, MA
Personnel: Jesse, Me
What We Ate: Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá; Porco a Alentajana; Complimentary Bread and Butter
Observations: We had the pleasure of eating two great Portuguese meals, on our way to and from Cape Cod, respectively. In Fall River, we stopped for a white-tablecloth lunch at Sagres, a tidy spot just blocks from I-95 — not a stripmall or even a suburb but as an old babysitter used to say to me and my sisters, who's counting? — let's enjoy. We had bacalhau à gomes de sá, that rich casserole of salt cod, potatoes and caramelized onion that's punctuated by hard-boiled egg and olives. It was steamingly, tongue-scorchingly hot, with the sweet onions practically melting into the feathery potatoes. Then there was a bubbling platter of porco a alentajana, clams, potato wedges and spicy sausage sauteed in a pungent wine sauce. Both were excellent — almost too good to eat on the road. My only complaint was the persistent odor of air freshener which interfered with the more delicious smells of our lunch.
Name: Clark BBQ
Location: 1419 Raritan Road, Clark, NJ
Personnel: Jesse, Me
What We Ate: BBQ Chicken Platter with Rice and Salad; Chouriça Portugese meal with fries and rice; Diet Pepsi.
Observations: We stumbled, or whatever the verb for stumbling via automobile might be, onto Clark BBQ after pulling off the Garden State Parkway in Clark. There were plenty of interesting stripmall choices around but the festive sign outside caught our eye. It's a tiny little place, packed on this particular Sunday evening, and when our food came we found out why. There's a small bar next to a refrigerator case stocked with beer and vinho verde. They also, we were told, make a mean sangria. We didn't have time to indulge in beverages but we did each get a ridiculously cheap plateful of homey, earnest and simple cooking. Mine was the smokey and tender barbecue chicken — practically a half-bird in the "small" platter, with a mountain of golden rice and salad. Jesse had the chouriça, slices of the snappy pink sausage grilled to crispness, with more rice and airy battered fries. I would definitely hit this place again if we're in that part of NJ or the chouriça craving strikes — whichever comes first, I guess.