Recently, more and more, I've been stopping by Madeira for lunch. Living and working in Providence, I find the quick stop off the highway very convenient. The lunch specials are tremendous deals and they're real "specials". The grilled veal chop is outstanding and a no-brainer at $9.99. So, when my colleagues and I were looking for a spot for a business dinner for a party of 15, we selected Madeira. Well, it turned out fantastically. We had colleagues in from all over the country. After dozens, maybe hundreds of business dinners, we all get jaded from eating at so many restaurants on someone else's dime. But at the end of this night, everyone agreed that Madeira was a special treat.
Chouriço Bombeiro, Amêijoas à Espanhola e lulas fritas
We ordered wine and apps for the table including Chouriço Bombeiro which arrives at the table en flambé, and which 15 hungry grown men loved and devoured. Fire and spicy sausage - how could it lose. Then the Amêijoas à Espanhola and the calamari with the shrimp and garlic sauce and hot peppers were also huge hits. Later came a terrific mix of entrees as everyone journeyed through the menu for what was to them very exotic cuisine. Double-skewer mixed grill kabobs, to octopus, to sword fish - the feast was on. Red wine (Callabria Douro and Callabria Alentejo) poured from a number of bottles. The timing of the kitchen and our server was smooth and superb. We never waited for a single thing. The orders came in perfectly. And we had just ONE server with no help for 15 men and not a single hiccup. It was a great dinner and it was great on the budget. Madeira gets my highest recommendation for any large dinner/business party based on this great experience. Truly, a great night.
[Original Review, 2010]
When I think of the Madeira Islands, I often think of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament in New Bedford MA. It would be the middle of the summer and we'd get into my dad's green Ford Torino and head to New Bedford. It was a huge feast that took over blocks of the city with carnival rides, tents with games and activities, live music outdoors into the night and great traditional food from Madeira. My dad would get my favorite - a four-foot-long skewer pierced through half-a-dozen giant fist-sized chunks of beef. He'd get one skewer this Portuguese shish kabob and a beer. We'd walk over to the concrete open fire pits where groups of Portuguese men from Portugal, Azores and Madeira, would talk about a million things I didn't understand. I would watched them tend their skewers and pour beer on the meat to flavor it and keep it from burning.
Polvo à Madeira and bife à casa
The Madeira Islands are situated just off the coast of Portugal and Africa; north of the Canary Islands and south of the Azores. The food is similar to Azorean Portuguese food, but with it's own specialties, influences and traditions. One of my favorite places for an authentic Madeiran experience is the Madeira Restaurant in East Providence RI. Madeira offers the best representation of this cuisine in the area. You can't miss the place as you drive east bound on I-195 - it's the pink building on the right, 20 yards from the highway. I became a regular when I moved to Providence and quickly adopted the Polvo (octopus) à Madeira as my usual. The calamari is spicy and light - the best in New England in my opinion. And just like at the feast, you can get the Madeira specialty of Espetada à Madeirense, shish kabob, served on a hanging skewer right at your table. Every Portuguese restautant does a "Bife à Casa," but the one at Madeira is one of my very favorites. The steak is a nice thick cut and the reduction sauce is outstanding. Another traditional dish is Peixe Espada, which is prepared with the Scabbard fish imported from the Madeira Islands. The long, thin fish is broiled and served with polenta, a common side dish. The restaurant is split into three sections, a main dining room, a smaller room with bar, and a banquet hall upstairs. Though it can get quite busy at times, there is always an open table. The service is really good, and the interior is very comfortable. Order a pitcher of the house specialty Sangria, and browse the menu for your next great Portuguese meal.
288 Warren Avenue
East Providence RI 02914-4732