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Food and Ambiance With Imagination and Flare
For the past few years, the Flying Rhino’s been on my short list of places perfect for a Friday night draft and burger or Cuban sandwich. But recently I took notice of their full list of entrees ~ a selection that just might rival other impressive menus on Worcester’s ‘Restaurant Row.’ And with the Rhino’s tasty offerings in mind, I asked a friend to meet me there for dinner.
Moments after arriving we were seated at one of the glass-topped tables near a gigantic cactus. This dining room seems the result of a very fertile imagination; starting with a background of warm colors and wood paneling, it’s been generously decorated with splashes of the tropics, the American Southwest, and tribal motifs. Our waitress arrived with a friendly greeting and a slab of hot-from-the-oven bread with garlicky olive oil for dipping. When she departed to fill our drink order we dove into both our menus and the fresh bread.
I forgot that the Rhino stocks its silverware and thick paper napkins in a pot on each table ~ these place settings were hiding behind the wine menu. But after dripping more than a little olive oil, I remembered them and decided to set the table before suffering an embarrassing wardrobe
Our drinks were $7 each and big-time hits. My Mojito was made with Bacardi Silver rum and crushed ice that trapped shreds of fresh mint throughout ~ it was refreshing and had me wishing for more ~ lots more! My friend’s Ketal One Cosmopolitan was classic in preparation and filled the martini glass to the brim ~ not a dropped spilled en route to the table!
We started our meals with tender golden Fried Calamari ($9) tossed with banana peppers and garlic olive oil. The Rhino takes this typical formula and sets it apart by tossing the calamari with sautéed spinach and a sprinkling ~ more a blizzard ~ of grated Romano cheese. We ordered the ‘Bite’ size and found it more than enough.
After clearing away the clutter of plates, our waitress surprised us with house salads of cucumber and tomato slices topped with crumbled feta cheese, curls of red onion and a tart vinaigrette dressing.Things got even better with ourentrees. My guest’s Lobster Ravioli($24) was a seafood-lover’s feast. In tribal fashion, the ravioli werezebra-striped with squid ink and stuffed with minced lobster meat.They were served with a half-dozen large shrimp plus scallops and lobster meat, all tossed in a rich lobster sherry cream. Don’t order this meal if you have a cholesterol test comingup!
My entrée, Citrus Tea Duck ($19), was a study in the balance of flavors and textures. Pan-seared boneless duck breasts were sliced and coated with a glaze of orange, rosemary and black tea. The duck was crusty dark and rich-flavored on the outside but remained tender pink inside, served with jasmine rice and crunchy stir-fried bok choy. I matched it with the dry citrus flavors of a glass of Tohu Sauvignon Blanc ($9) from New Zealand.Alas, these portions were so hugewe couldn’t be tempted by dessert, so the Flying Rhino’s Chocolate Decadence will have towait for another visit.
But this mealconfirmed what I had suspected ~whether you’re interested in an informal‘quick’ meal or inimaginative cuisine with elegant flare, the Rhino soars.
THE FLYING RHINO CAFE AND WATERING HOLE
278 Shrewsbury Street
508 757 1450