by Alice Levitt
65-69 Main Street, Plainfield, 454-0133
Positive Pie was a friendly culinary face in Plainfield for almost as long as I can remember. Last spring, it took over the space that was formerly River Run and, as Positive Pie Tap & Grill, became far more than a pizzeria.
I felt conspicuous as a nonlocal entering the neighborhood spot, but it was worth it.
With my budget, I didn't indulge too much in the restaurant's taps but was impressed by the selection. Nineteen brews included plenty of local faves — including beers from Hill Farmstead and Bobcat Café — as well as national cult concoctions such as Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast. I went for the 20th tap — a big glass of licorice-flavored Rookie's Root Beer.
Food came out quickly, with the rosemary pizza (above) leading the charge. The crust was thin enough to be simultaneously crisp and chewy. A piquant garlic-Parmesan sauce proved an excellent background for a powerful (but not overwhelming) dose of the fresh herb. Chunks of chicken added chewiness, while slices of tomato lent a welcome hit of acid.
I couldn't resist a $4 order of fried Brussels sprouts, referred to on the menu as "little nuggets of love." I would have been more besotted had the sprouts been cooked more before frying — most were underdone in the middle. But their tempura-like jackets were hard to resist, the Sriracha-aioli dipping sauce nigh on impossible.
Luckily for me, there was a hearty helping of the latter. It was a wonderful accompaniment for the banh mi, as well.
As a banh mi, the handcrafted sandwich failed miserably. As something I would drive an hour to eat anytime, though, it was a success.
The fluffy homemade bun was griddled, but absorbed just enough of the juices of the braised pork shoulder within. Ultra-thin slices of lightly pickled carrot and radishes contributed a crunch, along with a welcome hello from fresh cilantro. Instead of paté, creamy fattiness came from Dijon cream cheese.
Sandwiches at the Tap & Grill usually come with a choice of salad or fries. I asked for half portions of each and was glad I did. The fresh winter greens and radishes were a little too lightly dressed, so I added a bit of the Sriracha aioli, which found its way onto everything I ate that evening and worked well on each item. The fries were a perfect compromise for me and my dyed-in-the-wool Vermonter dining partner. Brown and skin-on for him, double-fried and ravishingly crisp and salty for me.
And, like everything I tried, they were worth a drive.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to email@example.com.