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Audrey’s at the Johnson & Wales Inn
213 Taunton Avenue
by Bob Mariani
Johnson & Wales University is the largest hospitality educator in the world. It’s hard to dine out anywhere these days in the U.S. or overseas without encountering someone who has attended this culinary institution. And their signature inn/restaurant is right here, just over the state line in Seekonk, MA.
The ambiance at Audrey’s is best described as quietly elegant with dark woods, a three-sided bar and a private, glass-enclosed wine room which has one table for four. The wait staff members are all students at the University and their manners and skills rate an A+ right down the line.
Audrey’s describes its menu as a combination of "exquisite local and New American" food. There are no "experiments" going on here. The menu items are all familiar and prepared in very traditional ways.
On the night we went, I began with their native seafood chowder, a very traditional treatment featuring a tasty broth laced with various tidbits of fish and crab along with a few vegetables. My wife had the brochette appetizer, which was a simple slice of toasted Italian bread topped with parmigiano-reggiano cheese, olive oil, tomatoes and cracked pepper. Other starter options were Gulf Shrimp Cocktail; Fried Calamari; Chunky Artichoke and Spinach dip; Pan-seared Scallops and Pheasant Ravioli; and Maryland Style Crab Cakes with a red pepper remoulade sauce.
From a list of familiar sounding entrées, I chose the premium Hereford New York Sirloin Steak ($24), a good size piece of tender meat about a half-inch thick and cooked perfectly medium rare as I’d requested (just pink on the inside). The steak was lightly dusted with pepper and thyme and came with tender artichoke leaves and roasted red peppers in a beure blank sauce. It was topped off with a nest of crispy fried shallots.
Our other entrée was the spiced salmon ($17) rubbed with thyme, honey and pepper, drizzled with a Chianti reduction sauce, and garnished with grapes. The garnish was a subtle but interesting touch. (If you’re on any kind of a salt-restricted diet or don’t like too much salt, you might want to mention this to your server before ordering this dish).
Other entrées at Audrey’s include sautéed local Diver Scallops ($17) with bacon, lemon beure blanc and citrus micro greens; Brined Pork Chop with a pineapple salsa and a chipotle maple glaze; Baked Shrimp in Phyllo stuffed with crab meat ($24); Wild Mushroom-encrusted Lamb Loin ($20) with confit pearl onions; and Grilled Statler Chicken Breast glazed with lemon and soy sauce and served with Asian greens.
The deserts are all house-made. I had the fluffy crème brulee and Jan had the flourless chocolate cake with a small dab of coffee ice cream.
Everything we ordered at Audrey’s was definitely a cut above your standard hotel fare. There were no surprises and that appeals to a lot of people. And there were no mis-steps, either. They’re open every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and on Sunday mornings they feature a country-style breakfast buffet. For information and reservations at Audrey’s call 1-800-232-1772.
Bob Mariani is a Southeastern New England freelance author. Besides his "Your Table is Ready" restaurant reviews found here, he also writes jazz articles on allaboutjazz.com.