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what's best restaurant in Providence?

Looking to take out my husband for his birthday on Friday. Must be in Providence. Looking for best over all food and service experience.
Cuisine type unimportant. Don't mind spending the $$$ on him. I just want him to feel he's had the best birthday dinner ever.
We don't go out a lot, as I am in the restaurant business in Boston, and love to spend time off at home. It's a big night out type of evening for us.
Any help is most appreciated.

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  1. That's not a question that has one answer. Gracie's is usually mentioned as being on this list....I went late spring and was not impressed w/food or service (anyone can have an off night). Siena is another candidate....but loud/trendy and while the food is excellent, it's not a relaxing night. I'd throw maybe Chez Pascal and New Rivers into that mix. But there isn't one clear standout that never makes a mistake or never has anyone complaining.

    1. My favorite all-around, never fail restaurant with ambience and quality food is Mills Tavern. If you like steak, try Prime or Ruth's Chris (yes, a chain, but the best one I've been to.)

      6 Replies
      1. re: TamaraGinRI

        I was thinking of Mills. I am in the steakhouse biz, so I wasn't looking to go to somewhere like where I work...which let's Prime and RC out.
        I'll report back on Mills, if that's where i go. Thanks a ton.

        1. re: dlavery99

          Whenever Providence comes up I hear about Al Forno. Maybe a little downscale for what you had in mind, but it seems consistently good.

          1. re: jkuhlen

            Al Forno is VERY inconsistent. I went this summer and paid over $20 for about 16 or 17 dried out shells (their "famous" baked pastas!). I'm not kidding - I literally had only 16 or 17 shells, single layer, in a weirdly-deceiving deep looking dish. Negatives for the place are all over this board.

            1. re: JaneRI

              Good to know, I'll cross it off of my list of places to try.
              Thanks.

              1. re: jkuhlen

                What it IS good for? One of the prettiest outdoor patios/bars in the area....go for cocktails and grilled pizza on a nice night.

                1. re: jkuhlen

                  youch! take that with a grain of salt! there are just as many rave reviews for al forno. (mine included. it's one of the best in the city.)

          1. re: Frobisher

            Chez Pascal would be my choice...

            1. re: Sean

              Haven't been to Gracies but I love Chez Pascal. Small, cozy, and intimate with fabulous food and service.

          2. I would say Gracies. Probably due to my recent experience there this past saturday night. Whenever I have gone in the past, it has been the two of us only and everything was fantastic.

            Well this past Sat was my wife's birthday and our table was 7 total. A bit nervous as we had a vegetarian and 2 gluten free people (inlcuding the birthday girl!) in our party. Everyone left completely satisfied. The food and service were fantastic and our friend's tasting of autumn vegetables was so creative and appealing looking that I was almost ready to abandon my duck to dive into his plate. Almost. Our menu choices ran the gamut from salmon to sweetbreads and nothing disappointed.

            The little touches were excellent as well, complimentary champagne, dessert, and a personalized happy birthday greeting was printed on each of our menus.

            2 Replies
            1. re: basachs

              Gracie's is very good at serving large parties from what I experienced - I was even there for the James Beard dinner a couple of years ago and they served over 200 smoothly - it was amazing!

              1. re: basachs

                Gracie's has a small priving dining area in a wine cellar. I believe it can seat up to 8. I'm not sure if they are still doing it, but we had the chef's tasting menu paired with wine. My husband and I had a lovely anniversary dinner there about a year and half ago. I haven't had dinner there since, but I did stop in during the same time Jane was there (late spring) and sat at the bar for drinks and dessert. The service and the dessert were a disappointment compared to my previous wonderful experiences with Gracie's. I'm hopeful that it was just a temporary dip, but I haven't been back to check it out for myself.

              2. Mills Tavern is very good. Cafe Nuovo is always consistant. I do like Pizzaco on Hope Street. There are so many new restaurants that have opened up in Providence, any favorites?

                1. I don't frequent Al Forno, but the 3-4 times a year I go are always outstanding. So my votes are for Al Forno, Chez Pascal, and Gracies.

                  I went to Gracie's this past Friday and it was tremendous. My wife and I sat at the bar and split an app and an entree: Pork belly over white corn grits (with a poached egg wrapped inside a piece of pasta on top, a nice way to functionally present the egg to break over the rest of the dish.) For entree we had veal two ways, veal cheek and veal loin, each prepared separately, each outstanding in its own right.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sandman00000

                    It's me the original poster. Took some of your advice and went to Chez Pascal. Service was amazingly great. Food also was a hit.
                    I will be back there many many times.
                    Thanks for the help!!!

                    1. re: dlavery99

                      Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I took my wife there for our anniversery and she obliged with my birthday. We have been five times and have yet to have a compliant. It is one of the few retaurants that I have frequented that I do not have at least one bad experience to report.

                      1. re: dlavery99

                        That's great! I had a fantastic meal there during Restaurant Week.