Ama's (raw bar/izakaya) West Side Providence now open
B and I stopped into The Avery for a cocktail last night and spied Ama across the square. We took a peek - what a jewel box of a space! Beautiful and tiny bar right at the entrance and a small, intimate dining area just beyond. Same designer as the Avery. The menu has raw bar items, but also, izakaya-style items, like grilled skewered meats. There was good crowd at the bar and a large party of 10 in the dining room. We can't wait to check it out for food next time we're in PVD!
Located in Luongo Sq.
I went there last week. It's a very nice, small space, as the OP noted, with the emphasis on small. The bar seats 6, there are three 2-tops on one side and one large booth-banquette area that could probably comfortably seat two parties of 6. That's it. Also as noted by the OP, same designer and same management as the Avery (and Lili Marlene's), so they don't spend a lot of money on lighting, if you know what I mean.
The concept of this place is an izakaya, basically Japanese tapas. I've not yet been in Japan, so I don't know how authentic it is or how it compares, but they have a choice of about 15 or so small plates, ranging from $6-9, mostly grilled items in one form or another. Things like scallops in a teriyaki glaze, zucchini slices with a touch of a sort of pesto sauce, that kind of thing, mostly vaguely pan-Asian. The "raw bar" part of this is one variety of local oysters, that's it. Probably about 2/3 meat or fish dishes and 1/3 veg. Small but decent wine selection, 8-10 varieties of bottled beer and some sakes. No license for spirits, no draft beer.
There are no entrees or larger plates to speak of; the only dinner-like option is what they call a "Bento box", which is really just four items from the small-plate selection for $15 in a "pick one from column a, one from column b", etc. format. I chose that, and did not have any of the small plates a la carte, so I'm going to assume that the portions in the "Bento box" are a little smaller. My scallop portion, for instance, was two, and I can't help thinking that for $8-9 (I can't remember the a la carte price) you'd get more than two. So I had the scallops, chicken in a plum glaze, the aforementioned zucchini, and a pickled red cabbage. Everything was fresh, tasty and well-executed, and I thought $15 was a fair price for what I had.
That said, this seems not like a dinner destination place, but a place to sit with a group of friends, talk, drink and nibble. Which, in fairness, is what an izakaya is supposed to be. Part of what they're aiming for is to get hungry people across the street from the Avery. The place was nearly full when I left, which I think was around 8:00-8:30, and the vast majority of the people seemed to be either local or regulars or both. A lot looked like the sort of people you'd see at Julian's, which is about a block away (i.e. "west side hipsters")
I'll go back and see how things change seasonally, but I'm not waiting with bated breath for the next time I go. But try it for yourself and report back, that's what this is for.
re: Gin n Tonic
I just relocated to Providence from San Francisco and this little gem of a place happens to be across the street from my new house. I checked it out tonight and was very impressed. First off, I love small..small menu, small plates, small dining room etc, etc...And I love dim lighting, who wants to dine under flourescent lighting? I started with 4 oysters all local, I'm for local and sustainable food, the mignonette or whatever it was, was delicious. Then I had fried flounder with lotus chips, perfectly salty not too greasy and the dipping sauce was divine, I was eating the sauce when I had nothing to dip into it. Then I had grilled zuchinni with watergress dressing, sooo yummy. The perfect thickness for zuchinni, nice grill marks and the dressing was a nice compliment. For "dessert" I had the tofu pouches stuffed with rice and olives. The best Inari I've had in a while...I want to go back and try the Udon noodles. Awesome little spot in Providence!