I love a good steak as much as the next guy, but for some reason, I opted not to order one at 22 Bowens. Crazy, I know. I have heard lots of people rave about the steaks here, but there were so many other dishes that were making my mouth water just by reading the menu…it was difficult to make up my mind!
In some cases, steakhouses can be one dimensional, cooking premium cuts of beef exceptionally well, while other dishes are somewhat uninspired. It didn’t take long for me to find out 22 Bowens is not one of those places. It was refreshing to find a steakhouse that shows versatility in their menu with an ability to conceptualize various dishes, incorporate unique flavor combinations, and most importantly, execute each plate in a truly delicious way.
You can never go wrong starting with some oysters on the half shell…and these were certainly no exception! These briny little bivalves tasted delicious with the Pink Peppercorn-Chive Mignonette which provided some bright, bold flavors. A perfect start to any meal in my opinion!
When attending the annual Knorr Chowder Cook-off in Newport last year, I remembered voting for 22 Bowens for serving my favorite chowder of the day…so obviously I had to order it again this time around. My bowl of New England Chowder was incredibly creamy and loaded with clams and chunks of potatoes. It was perfectly balanced and properly seasoned. I would highly recommend it!
This miniature kettle was jampacked with flavor despite the size. The duck confit was extremely tender and fell right off the bone. I also enjoyed the richness that the pancetta added to the entire dish. My only complaint was the amount of herbs, specifically rosemary, that I thought was used too heavily. Overall, this appetizer reminded me of a winter dish. I think this Cassoulet would be best offered as a seasonal choice instead.
Where do I even start here? There was a lot going on in this dish, but it was like a symphony of flavors that all played together harmoniously. The honey barbecue sauce was sweet and sour and soaked right into the pork itself. The cilantro mashed potatoes were unlike any mashed potatoes I have ever tried before. It tasted like they used creamy avocados as a substitute for butter, which also paired well with the cilantro. I also enjoyed the addition of the rich gorgonzola cheese inside the cornbread which was a tasty and interesting spin on this traditional side.
We also ordered the Thick Cut Cajun Onion Rings on the side which were seemingly stacked to the ceiling. These were definitely spicy and I was able to detect some cayenne, paprika, garlic, and oregano. We were served some Horseradish Cream on the side, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. The Horseradish clashed with the Cajun seasoning because there were too many aggressive flavors. Maybe I’m just a simple guy…ketchup would have been fine for me.
This dish was a special the night I visited…and let me just say…if this is ever on the specials menu when you dine at 22 Bowens…you NEED to order it!
The striped bass was cooked perfectly. It had a wonderful char from the grill and still maintained a moist, flaky texture. The lobster tail was just an added bonus. C’mon now, everybody knows I can’t turn down Lobster. :)
The Blood Orange Beurre Blanc was very inventive. It tasted fantastic paired with every single item on the dish (including the bass, the lobster, and even the rice). The acid and the sweetness from the blood oranges mixed with the butter based emulsion married together to make a delicious sauce. The wild rice also had some very unique combinations including pistachios, grapes, and ginger. As strange as these ingredients may sound together, it doesn’t really matter…it tasted AMAZING!
Overall, we had a terrific experience at 22 Bowens from start to finish. The striped bass turned out to be a truly special dish that I will remember for a LONG time (yes, it was that good!). In fact, I even made sure to tell my server, the manager, the hostess, pedestrians, and just about anybody I could find that they should consider adding it to the regular menu!
Again, it was great to find a steakhouse that serves top notch dishes outside of only red meat. But I have to be honest, I am dying to try their steak now too. Oh well, I guess I will have to return again soon!!!