On the way out of the “health food” store this morning, stranded in a long line, I succumbed and picked up a packaged cookie from the display by the register. Sitting down outside to nibble, I read the label more thoroughly. I should have learned by now to be less surprised by these things…

While it might prove too difficult for me, I support anyone else in a decision to go vegan or vegetarian. There’s many compelling reasons for either option, but I’m getting sick of the “health excuse”, especially coming from folks who go out of their way to consume organic vegan junk food.

Vegan junk food: that’s exactly what this cookie amounted to. Listen to this: the single cookie contained 12g of fat, 460mg of sodium, 32g of sugar, and topped out at 460 calories. The supposed benefits? No dairy, no eggs, no honey, no hydrogenated oils, no cholesterol, no preservatives, no refined sugar.

I can’t help but think that (next to no cookie at all) a better healthier choice would be some “carnivore” cookie made with fresh organic ingredients, at half the size. Butter, flour, eggs, and sugar, please, without the vegan-specified grain dextrins and non-hydrogenated soybean lecithins.

Went for a Sunday ride. Missed a few turns and was sent off in unknown directions. Saw some nice countryside though, even if it wasn’t anywhere near where I was aiming..

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Bike running good, but lost my clutch adjuster cover somewhere on the road. Picked up a layer of manure sludge in trade. Good times!

Maria at Newport Wine Cellar donated a quartet of beers from Cavalry Brewing Company to be submitted to my ire and disdain. Here are my snap judgements:

First on the chopping block is the Dog Soldier Golden Ale. Simply put, there is nothing to recommend this beer. Foamy, shallow, and without substance.

Next up is the Hatch Plug Ale. This is a decent food beer, richer and approachable. I wouldn’t be ashamed to offer this one to friends, preferably accompanied by a burger or two.

Onto the Marauder IPA. This, unfortunately, seems to follow the ugliest IPA formula of taking an otherwise B- beer and ruining it with an exaggerated alcohol content and/or sense of self-importance. Pass on it.

Lastly, the Nomad Stout. in my critical opinion, this one is 60% meh, 40% bleh. Not unlike a Guinness that’s been re-engineered to accentuate the crappier parts and neglect the good ones. Bitterness without balance or complexity, topped by a ridiculous lacey head.

I like a start-up business, especially a (relatively) local one. But Cavalry’s fancy labels and exaggerated military tie-ins are no substitute for experience and restraint.


This morning we made a trip to the reconstructed, renovated, reinvented Atlantic Grille in Middletown. While the restaurant re-opened a week ago, I’m not sure it has survived the transition so well.

First, it’s important to understand what we always liked about the “old” Atlantic Grille. Besides proper-good greased-up morning diner fare, there was that excitement and energy you only get from a crowded counter and an open kitchen window. Breakfast theater at its best! Despite the inevitable weekend-morning crush, we could always find a seat, mingle with the throng, enjoy the show, enjoy the food, enjoy the atmosphere, and heartily tip this fine entertainment.

It was, no doubt, the crush and bustle that had the ownership looking to expand; more room to handle the covers, and a lounge/bar area to bring in the after-breakfast crowd. In many ways, “on paper”, it looks like they have achieved that goal. The new layout is clean, efficient, organized, and obviously expertly planned and executed. It is indeed a fine amalgam of modern food-service design principles, commercial interior design, and thoughtful craftsmanship. This is also why it just happens to suck balls.

The new Atlantic Grille is as close to a TGI Fridays-by-the-sea as I can imagine. The new decor and even the new cutlery and flatware contrast all-too-sharply with what has always been otherwise excellent working-man fare. When I watch a cook sweat and a server hustle, I empathize and understand, I expect only the best of their efforts in that particular space and place in time. In the bustling and oft-times turgid world of the short-order breakfast fare, customers and patrons earn one another’s respect in a certain theatrical round.

On the other hand, I expect nothing from a molded and pressed cookie-cutter franchise. In such a place, I expect my food and service to come to me smooth and facelessly, and as such, it is an experience I most often choose to avoid. Put it this way: while the Atlantic Grille has done a beautiful and exacting job of reinventing itself, it now has less character than a Newport Creamery.

Still, they are local, and the food isn’t bad. There’s little fear of finding room for that last-minute breakfast party when friends/family come calling. Unfortunately, for me at least, it seems as though the Atlantic Grille may have sold it’s soul, and in doing so, lost my heart.

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