Diners in the Seekonk area may have noticed that the sign in front of 1149 no longer says “Restaurant” like its sister location in Warwick; it now reads “Bar & Grill” in big, bold letters. The already popular dining spot recently changed its menu, turning the place toward a slightly more casual atmosphere and bringing in new entertainment to their updated lounge with local bands on Friday evenings and DJ events on Saturday nights.
My first impression when entering the restaurant on a recent Friday night was that 1149 Bar & Grill definitely caters to the end-of-the-workweek crowd. The place was packed; my friend and I were told there would be about an hour wait without a reservation. We weren’t in any rush, and there was space at the beautifully sizable bar, so the wait was effortless – especially since 1149 has an extensive draft beer list. I ordered a perfectly poured pint of Guinness and my friend tried a Goose Island Matilda, an excellent craft beer from Chicago. We stuck with beer for the evening, but the spot has a good wines-bythe- glass list and a great cocktail list as well, including five classic cocktails that they serve in the lounge for $5 each day between 2-6pm.
The wait went by quickly, especially since the very personable bartenders took such good care of us. We sat down and were greeted by our friendly server; even though the restaurant clearly remained busy throughout our visit, the service was attentive and pleasant. We asked about some of the newer menu items and through her helpful conversation we quickly settled on a sampling of starters and a couple of pasta entrees.
We began with a classic Shellfish Platter ($19) and were happy to see native items featured. The platter had four Plum Point Oysters, four littlenecks and four shrimp, served with cocktail sauce, apple cider mignonette and ginger scallion mayo. Plum Points are some of my favorite of all the Rhode Island oysters and it was nice to see 1149 Bar & Grill supporting the small in-state aquaculture operation. Everything on the Shellfish Platter was fresh and clean, and it was a great starter.
We also ordered the Crispy Chicken Wings ($10), Fried Smoked Mozzarella ($6) and the Warm Pretzel Finger Rolls ($6). These were all very much in the mode of bar food, but very good bar food. The wings were served straight from the fryer, completely plain but alongside a spicy Szechuan dipping sauce that both of us enjoyed. We felt the wings could have been sauced, but serving them bare and allowing guests to choose how much of the sauce they wanted is a nice touch. The Fried Mozzarella is definitely an old classic and we were pleased to find it well-prepared and lightly fried. It came with the house-made marinara sauce, which was also very tasty. The Pretzel Rolls were great and my friend almost went through the whole basket by himself. The one letdown was the buffalo mustard cheese dip that came with the rolls; there wasn’t much buffalo sauce kick to it at all.
For dinner, we had the Brick Oven Baked Penne with Chicken ($17) and the Chicken Parmesan ($16). While I wouldn’t make any claims for originality, they were both very good dishes – completely satisfying at the end of the week with a beer at a bar with a friend. The penne was our favorite of the two dishes. It was served with a pink vodka sauce and four cheeses: Parmesan, Pecorino, Mozzarella and Fontina. As you would imagine, it was a delicious melted cheese concoction with just a little bit of crispiness from baking in the dish. It’s not a light meal by any means, but we couldn’t help but devour it no matter how full we got. The Chicken Parmesan was served with linguine and really, what’s not to love about breaded fried chicken with melted mozzarella and marinara sauce? We agreed that as a kitchen staple it worked well.
Since 1149 Bar & Grill is locally owned and operated, and tries to have locally produced items on their menu, in my book that puts it a few steps ahead of the many chain establishments that share the area around it, on Route 6 in Seekonk. It’s serving classic bar food that is definitely an upgrade from those chains. All through our time at 1149 Bar & Grill – and we were there for about three hours – the dining room and lounge remained packed with patrons. What more of an endorsement can you ask for than that?