Your V-day date will never see this one coming…
“Apple pie without ice cream is like a hug without a kiss,” proclaims one of the many plaques that decorate the knotty pine walls of the Beef Barn. The apple pie at the Beef Barn comes without ice cream, but sometimes a hug without a kiss is what’s appropriate. And when apple pie tastes like this one does, you need nothing but a fork.
Twenty minutes from campus by car, the Barn is slinging steak sandwiches, roast beef, and homemade pie in North Smithfield, RI. They also have grilled cheese for all you hardcore veggies out there, but the name “Beef Barn” was enough to make one easily-persuaded-meat-eating-vegetarian author cave hard. Salad exists on the menu, but honestly, why bother?
You can dine in at this literal barn for $6, which will get you a steak sandwich and large fries. And you should dine in at the Beef Barn. A toy train runs circles around the light-box menu in the center of the open kitchen. Deep fryers line the back wall, churning out golden chicken fingers, and a huge roast beef slicer sits on the countertop, whittling hunks of beef down into thin, pink layers of meat on a soft roll. But when in Rome, we recommend the steak sandwich. Is it magic or is it MSG? Either way, we’ll take two please, with cheese and sauteed mushrooms.
The steak sandwich comes on a lightly toasted hot dog bun (brilliant—who thought of that?), with thin-sliced-but-still-pink-in-the-middle steak, and your choice of mushrooms, cheese, bacon, lettuce, or tomato. Douse it in mystery sauce from a barn-themed squirt bottle (we think it is ketchup with some A1 steak sauce, but who knows), and rip into it. Everything here is barn-themed. There are taxidermied chickens in the “Chicken Coop Room.”
Alternatively, try the roast beef sandwich, which, to be honest, has proven unremarkable with the memory gap of a three day lag between consumption and writing. So maybe don’t try it. We don’t really care as long as you get your butt to the Barn. But all we can remember is the steak sandwich, charred and cheesy, toasty, beefy.
Does beef taste better when you sit in a red vinyl booth inside a mock barn, listening to Spin Doctors’s ‘Two Princes’? Does ketchup compliment fries more perfectly when it pools in the grooves of a styrofoam plate? Is lamp-lighting softer when the lamps themselves are red enamel, aluminum, and appear to be illuminating stable stalls? We think so. We know so. And the multitude of families enjoying a Superbowl Sunday beef lunch seemed to agree.
Thank god pumpkin pie is still in season in February. The Beef Barn knows what the fuck is up. And thank god there are coloring books, although they seem to have been monopolized by a certain crayon-wielding toddler named “Tallulah,” who signed all her half-finished works in cursive. We don’t mind, though. Being, technically, adults, we were offered no crayons. This was appropriate, but disappointing.
Beef Barn Boston cream pie has the irresistible appeal of frosting from a can if it were a complete dessert in itself. After objections from certain canned-frosting-haters, the authors would like to clarify that frosting from a can is officially good.
The pumpkin pie we ate had no trace of the stringy, gourd-y, pumpkin-ness everyone resents about Thanksgiving’s iconic dessert. Instead, it was condensed-milk-sweetened and spice-packed, with a flaky dark crust and almost pudding-like texture. Honestly, it could win over my heart, if anyone is trying (It is up to the reader to discern which author wrote this sentence, although, frankly, either of us would take a slice of pie—this specific pie).
We bought T-Shirts at checkout. Sure, at $15 a piece, they were more than triple the price of lunch for one, but some fashion statements are worth any price. And these are most definitely statement pieces—you’ll see both of us on campus proudly wearing our shirts that feature a giant, stoned, anthropomorphic cow hovering over the Beef Barn.
Check in every other week for new intel on Rhode Island’s funky fresh, cheap eats! We welcome recommendations. We have a car.