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Sep 18, 2008 07:07 AM

Providence- Please help me decide

I will be visiting my college son in late October and am looking to try some new places - for one lunch (near Brown if possible), two brunches and two dinners ( can be anywhere in Providence). I have surfed the posts on this board and there seem to be some mixed messages about places. I do apologize for any redundancy with the post, but I am a bit confused.

I was thinking of Local 121, Hemenways, La Laiterie, Julian's or Pane E Vino. I know Gracies gets raves, my concern is a website without prices (some guidance as to the average appetizer or entree price would be wonderful), and our showing up dressed casually (but not grungy) as we don't want to offend. Also, my son will eat anything, but he is underage, so I will be the only one drinking and would like to be able a great glass of red wine or a wonderful cocktail.

In the past we have been to Capital Grille (underwhelmed, overpriced for what IMHO was ordinary), Ten Prime (great dinner), Waterplace (mediocre), Nick's on Broadway for dinner(we really enjoyed our meal and it was great meeting Derek Wagner). My son has also been taken to XO steakhouse (he preferred Ten prime). For brunch we have been to Rue D'espoir (lovely), Paragon (eh) and Downcity (we loved it) and Meeting Street (huge portions, but he goes there often so it's nice to find a change). I have a concern about Hemenway's because it is owned by Capital Grille, but it could be terrific nonetheless.

I am fearful of showing up at Nick's or Julian's for brunch because of the potential wait. If I am over-reacting, please let me know.

Thanks so much!

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  1. Gracie's prices: $12-15 apps, $25-35 entrees (or thereabouts)

    La Laiterie, Chez Pascal, and New Rivers are consistent favorites for dinner. Lunch and brunch are not my go-to meals so I can't help there.

    1. If you're concerned about prices or dress code at Gracie's, I wouldn't go. It definitely falls into the category of pricey, special-occasion place. Julian's has WONDERFUL food, but I am not thrilled w/the atmosphere (others love it, I'm not into the dark/depressing/grunge/world music bit) but the food is so good I keep going back. I usually go for lunch during the workweek, so I can't comment on wkend brunch crowds.

      I love Siena (LOUD though). I have always loved La Laiterie but on my latest visit (last month) I was underwhelmed....hopefully it was just an iffy night. I haven't been to Hemenway's in yeeeeaaars, so I don't know.

      1. Hemenway's is a hit or miss sort of place. Sometimes it's excellent, sometimes it's just eh. I eat there often for business and I never know what to expect. I am a big fan of Pane E Vino. It's consistently good, and the waitstaff is well trained. I like Nick's much better for brunch than Julian's. I would try to get there early and if the weather nice, waiting outside isn't bad.

        1. I'd recommend Broadway Bistro. It is just a few blocks from Julians. Think of it as a cross between Julian's and Nick's. Not as sleek and cold as Nicks nor as grungy as Julians, but meets somewhere in the middle, as does the food. The dinner menu is slightly less expensive and slightly less upscale than Nicks, but not as low key as Julians. It really has a nice neighborhood feel. The chef/owner puts out a small but excellent menu. It is creative and always changing. Highly recommened. They also have a very good wine list although no beer on tap.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Jenkins

            What about Troup House? I haven't been yet, but it seems promising.

            You could also consider Loie Fuller. I went long ago and didn't have a good experience, but it may have improved, and it's a beautiful space, with a fun vibe.

            1. re: winedude

              I was going to mention Loie Fuller's as well...

              Lunch near Brown: Think about Blaze on Thayer or Red Stripe in nearby Wayland Square

              Brunches: I've said before that I think brunches in Providence are Nick's, Julian's, and then everything else. Consider the Modern Diner nearby in Pawtucket also...

              Dinners: Again, Loie Fuller's should be considered. My experiences have always been great. Local 121is one of my favorite spaces in the city, but their food is admittedly VERY uneven, even the same dish on different nights... Hemenways I haven't been to in some time, but is solid... La Laiterie is excellent, but waiting could be an issue if you don't have time to do so (consider the nearby Waterman Grille if there is a wait). I've never had a good Pane E Vino experience. I know others like it, but I think different establishments do the same thing better and cheaper...

              1. re: Garris

                It looks like Blaze on Thayer is gone... I walked by the other day, and it seems to have morphed into something else (?)

                1. re: LMWW

                  Blaze is on Hope St. at the corner of Burlington St.

                  1. re: aunteejoy

                    Yes, but they had opened a 2nd Blaze on Thayer (right by Shanghai), which is what Garris had recommended. However, it seems to have closed. The Hope St location appears to be alive and well.

            2. re: Jenkins

              Would Broadway Bistro be a good place to go for drinks before going to Nick's for dinner? We're looking for a pre-dinner cocktail somewhere, and Nick's just doesn't have any real standing room. Ideas?

              1. re: fullbelly

                Unfortunately, no. They only serve beer and wine... no full liquor license. I would recommend the Avery. Depending on how familiar you are with the neighborhood, you my want to drive. But it's really not that far of a walk between the two.


                There's no signage, but it's the ground floor entry of the blue building right at the fork in the road (former Decatur, if you know it).

                1. re: fullbelly

                  Loie Fuller would also fit the bill for cocktails.

              2. Just wanted to second the recommendation for Broadway Bistro. We've eaten there several times, and the food is innovative and delicious. They also cap things off with a lovely little dessert on the house (used to be chocolate mousse, now is a flourless chocolate cake with mixed berries). The wine list is also a plus. I don't think you would have to worry about too much of a wait.

                La Laiterie is also a great option, but incredibly small and packed. From our observation, it seems that a contingent of Brown students have "found" this place - if you are talking about Parent's Weekend, it may be especially nightmarish in terms of crowds. If you want an early dinner, we've had luck getting there right when they open. But even then, we've been in a situation where we've gotten the last open table.

                For brunch, I say Nick's all the way - if you can get there before 10am, you probably wouldn't have too much of a wait. We live right down the street (from Nick's, Julian's, and Broadway Bistro, actually), and can usually snag a table if we get there before the rush.

                Julian's is yummy, but the staff don't seem to pay you much attention unless you have mutton chops, tattoos, and/or multiple piercings. My husband and I always joke that we must not be cool enough to eat there, despite the fact that we're neighbors.

                Enjoy your visit!

                1 Reply
                1. re: LMWW

                  I agree about the pre-10am bit. There's literally never a wait, even at 9:50. It seems like 10 is the magic brunch hour, and the rush begins.

                  The service is far better ar Nick's than Julians (which is bad 100% of the time, unless you eat at the bar). Personally, DH and I like the food better at Julian's (although they're really neck and neck) and are willing to put up with a bit of 'tude. The bad service there is almost comical. The homemade catsup is great, as are the hashes, ginger pancakes, benedicts and egg dishes in general. I find the bloody marys and mimosas to be pitifully weak for the price, so watch out for that OP, if you like a brunch cocktail.

                  I've had better and better experiences at Louie Fuller lately. They make great cocktails, and even though the quirky menu is small, everyone always finds something to enjoy. I could eat that pickle/potatoe/raclette thingamabob every day.

                  I'm one of the Pane e Vino lovers. I've had excellent meals there, and stellar service (except for the last time, when the service was unimaginably bad). I DO think their wine list is horifically overpriced, so I only go on Mondays for the 50% discount.

                  I'd stay far away from Local 121, unless it's for a cocktail only. Their food, while it has potential) has fallen pathetically short every time I've dined there. I love, love imbibing there, though.

                  I've had solid meals at Siena, but nothing spectacular. I don't actually remember what I've eaten there, which is strange for me. It's a fun place to take a group.

                  If the OP is concerned about budget, I don't like the Capriccio/Nuovo suggestion below. Capriccio is always an interesting experience, but the last two times I was there, the food at our table received mixed reviews. If they're going to do the classics, they have to do them well. I have no beef with Nuovo, and have actually had really good meals there. I find it to be about 20% overpriced, and wince every time the check comes.

                  OP, there are lots of great choices. Hope you have great meals!