Cocke 'n Kettle
A Blackstone Valley fixture still passes muster after all these years
by Jim Johnson
Cocke 'n Kettle, Route 122, Uxbridge
Tues.-Fri. 4-9 p.m.
Sat. 5-10 p.m. (or "when the last person's served")
Sun. 1-9 p.m.
Major credit cards
Restrooms not handicap accessible
When I thought about the ideal place to invite Rhode Island-based relatives,
the Cocke 'n Kettle immediately came to mind. The Uxbridge restaurant has been
a Worcester County fixture for years, attracting families and couples
(especially older ones) from both sides of the nearby Rhode Island border. I'd
dined there a few years ago and knew that we could look forward to a relaxed
evening of fine dining at a reasonable price.
The Cocke 'n Kettle has grown around a Georgian-style homestead dating back to
the early 1800s. Although much of the old mansion is masked by dropped
ceilings, paneling, and carpeting, its historic character persists, especially
in the main dining room with its dark wood beams and four working fireplaces.
As we studied the menu, we nibbled on crackers accompanied by an herbed cheese
dip and a small crock of red beans mixed with a creamy relish of onions,
garlic, and cayenne. During my earlier visits, servers came by almost
constantly with baskets of light and fluffy popovers and trays of corn fritters
flavored with honey and dusted with confectioners' sugar. This time, they
didn't arrive until later, and I wondered if the restaurant had stopped the
custom. As a result, we over-ordered on the appetizer front.
Not that I heard any complaining.
The escargots ($5.45) had been stuffed into fresh mushroom caps and drenched
in a garlic-laden, herbed butter sauce. We soaked up any remnants with a loaf
of bread served on a cutting board.
Fresh mozzarella ($5.95) was silky and fresh, served in a floral pattern with
petals of basil leaves and sliced cherry tomatoes. The baked stuffed clams
casino ($5.95) tasted as if they'd been shucked and stuffed moments earlier.
The bread stuffing was moistened with broth instead of the more typical butter,
leaving a more enhanced, natural flavor.
Finally, the fresh lobster bisque ($4.75) was a rich reduction of lobster
broth and cream, with plenty of lobster bits and more sherry than usual. The
solid lobster flavor more than stood up to the liquor, making for a brilliant
complement of pungent wine and rich seafood.
About half of the menu consisted of steaks, chops, and veal. Meat-eaters will
enjoy the choice of rack of lamb ($19.45 for one person, $37 for two), a
one-pound broiled sirloin steak ($17.95), veal parmesan ($13.45), and petite
filet mignon ($13.95). Seafood choices included broiled swordfish ($17.95),
fried scallops ($14.95), broiled Norwegian salmon ($13.95), and jumbo shrimp
($16.45) stuffed with lobster and crabmeat with a splash of sherry. Of the
cocke variety, there was a choice of chicken cordon bleu ($11.95), chicken
parmigiana ($11.95), and broiled chicken breast ($10.95).
The Cocke 'n Kettle also offers nightly specials, as well as three complete
dinners with salad, pasta, dessert, and beverage for under $10. The evening of
our visit, choices included tenderloin tips, baked haddock, and stuffed chicken
Three of our party had placed their orders before I asked if there were any
specials. After our server belatedly read her lengthy list, I shifted to veal
chop saltimbocca ($14.95).
Many menu choices are marked with asterisks to note that smaller portions are
available at half-price for children. Our server mentioned that, noting the
10-year-old sitting across from me. Undaunted, the youngster ordered the most
monstrous item of the four of us. At least he ordered the queen cut of prime
rib ($15.75). If heredity plays any role in his life, he'll be ordering king
cuts in no time.
Lest he become ill from such a large portion, I offered to help. He'd ordered
medium rare, and that was exactly what he got. Juices oozed from the pink meat
that had a minimal fat other than a good balance of marbling. He barely needed
his knife to cut off a large chunk from the bone. It was as tender and moist as
The veal francaise ($13.95) was equally good, three tender medallions pounded
thin, dredged in a slightly eggy breading, and sautéed with capers and
lemon butter. Likewise, the broiled brook trout ($13.95), split into a
butterflied, boned filet, was superb, though the broiling involved more butter
than expected. A topping of lobster and crabmeat was an added bonus.
The veal chop was at least two inches thick, served in a thick demi-glace with
mushrooms and a bed of spinach, both ingredients added pungent intrigue.
With so much food on the table, our youngest tablemate made an accurate and
humorous observation: "This is just like a buffet, but you don't have to get
up!" Indeed, our table did resemble a buffet, due in part to the strolling
fritter-and-popover woman and in greater part to the appetizer dishes remaining
far too long into our entree course.
Somehow, we found room for dessert: a heavenly eggy creme brulee browned to
crispy, caramelized perfection; a monstrous ice-cream puff; and chocolate
mousse served in edible Godiva chocolate shells. We spent about $22 per person
but could easily have shaved it to $17 or so.