I grew up in a restaurant family in New Hampshire, which means that I will happily leave my cozy living room on a dark, snowy Wednesday night in January to attend an open mic night hosted by a musician friend at a bar two towns away from mine. Said friend is Kevin Williams of the contemporary rhythm and blues band Blue Honey, and said bar is Copperfield’s Burger and Beer House in Smithfield. Open mic night is every Wednesday, starting at 7pm.
I am one of those people who has to order a burger at a burger and beer house. I chose the Florentine because the mere thought of sauteed spinach, garlic mayo, sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh mozzarella made me feel like I was embarking on a multi-course Italian meal within my burger, that I was somehow having two wonderful and completely disparate culinary experiences at the same time. I wasn’t disappointed. My burger was fat and juicy with a lightly toasted bun and chunky homemade fries on the side. I could taste the subtleties of each ingredient. It was awesomely Italian and completely American at the same time.
My friend ordered a burger called the Happy Mother. While my Florentine burger included a trip through Italy, hers involved a delicious tour of breakfast. The Happy Mother boasts mayo, arugula and tomato topped with crispy hash browns, bacon and an over-easy egg. All on top of fresh Angus beef! It is Copperfield’s most popular burger as well as owner Karim Menebhi’s answer to my question, “If we could only eat one thing here, what should it be?” The thick golden onion rings on the side were perfect: sweet with just a bit of crunch.
And then the music started. Williams played a few songs on his acoustic guitar — some Jeff Buckley, Hozier, Chris Cornell, Marc Cohn and a little Ed Sheeran. Then, musician Kala Farnham sang and played an instrument called a guitalele, which is small like a ukulele but has six strings like a guitar. Her voice gave me chills. It stopped every conversation at the bar. It was well worth a drive in the snow.
Anyone can bring their talent to Copperfield’s open mic night on Wednesdays. Originals, covers, poetry, karaoke and comedy are all welcome. Copperfield’s also hosts Football Sunday, Trivia Monday, Karaoke Tuesday and live local music Thursday through Saturday. You are likely to see owner Karim Menebhi, whose passion for his restaurant might be rivaled only by his passion for music. He believes in all things local: healthy Rhode Island food free of preservatives (“The only thing we freeze is ice cream,” he told me) and Rhode Island musicians who want to share their passion for music with others. Between the musicians and Menebhi, the energy at Copperfield’s is palpable.
Copperfield’s Burger and Beer House, 9 Cedar Swamp Rd, Smithfield; 401-349-0774