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"upscale" Saturday night near the Biltmore for Mom & me

Dear RI Chowhounds,
I will be coming to Providence soon with my Mom, and am looking for a fairly upscale place to celebrate her birthday within walking distance of the Biltmore. I don't drink, but Ma's good for a couple of Manhattans, and I'm hoping to keep dinner in the "$150 or less" range (hopefully including tip, but...). She's in her 60's & I'm in my 30's, so we're probably not looking for anyplace too hip or boisterous, and we would most likely prefer something Nouvelle American or French as opposed to Italian or Spanish/tapas. Mom'd be content doing McCormack & Schmick's, but if I'm picking up the tab I'd rather do something a bit less corporate and more locavore/organic (figuratively speaking, at least). For what it's worth, I live in the city (Boston) and dine out fairly often, Ma' is in the 'burbs and "doesn't get out much". I'm aware there was a vaguely (ok, very) similar post from someone in July, but thought my "situation" might elicit slightly different feedback. Thanks!

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McCormack's
312 Veazie St, Providence, RI 02904

Biltmore
475 W Todd St, Hamden, CT 06518

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  1. I think Gracie's fits all your requirements, and will be worlds better than any of the expense-account places around the hotel. You'll end up bumping up against your price range for sure. If you want to drop it down maybe a notch price-wise, but keep the other requirements, go to New Rivers. Both are easily walkable, although Gracie's is closer.

    1. Cav is downtown and excellent for a mom meal www.cavrestaurant.com

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      Cav
      14 Imperial Pl Unit 101, Providence, RI 02903

      10 Replies
      1. re: sakeandgin

        CAV is not downtown, it is in the Jewelry District. Probably a 20 minute walk from the Biltmore, through areas, which though not "bad" would be largely devoid of other pedestrians on an early Saturday eve. Therefore, setting aside whatever you think of CAV's food it is not easily walkable from the Biltmore for a suburban 60ish mom who doesn't get out much (which also describes my mom as well)

        I would vote New Rivers. The food is great. Slightly less expensive and "fancy" than Gracies. Also a little more intimate. It is my go to spot when my in laws are in town, who live in a suburb, don't get out much and are decidedly not foodies. While I love Gracies, it is just not them. Whereas, at New Rivers they don't feel out of place.

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        Biltmore
        475 W Todd St, Hamden, CT 06518

        1. re: Frobisher

          My last two meals at New Rivers (the last one two weeks ago) were not up to par. While I like the restaurant, I find the food very uneven, sometimes excellent, often less so. I would vote for Gracie's which has been more consistent in the last year and a half.

          1. re: Frobisher

            Totally agree that walking from the Biltmore to CAV with a 60ish mom is not practical.

            1. re: Gin n Tonic

              The meal I had there was fantastic while visiting my son in college. The owner was friendly and accommodating. Not knowing the actual neighborhoods I would still think its a small dollar cab ride from the hotel.

              1. re: sakeandgin

                Thanks, all! I guess I'm leaning toward Gracie's at this point. Despite not getting out much, Mom likes "fancy", and I get the feeling that service (don't ask me why, just a feeling) at Gracie's might be a bit more "polished"as well. Any thoughts on that? Mom's satisfaction with (or disappointment in) the service has the potential to greatly affect my enjoyment of the evening, as she's prone to gripe incessantly about service issues and/or kitchen mishaps that I might be more apt to ignore or "let slide". If money wasn't a factor (and it kills me to have to say that), I'd book Gracie's tonight. New Rivers would provide me with the comfort of not really having to keep an eye on the tab (as much), though... Thanks again.

                1. re: BrettLove

                  And Gracie's it shall be...
                  Thanks y'all, for taking the time to reply. I'll drop a line in November and let you know how it went. We both like the sample Gracie's menu a little better than New Rivers', and based on your feedback it seems like more of a "sure thing". While New Rivers is a bit "less expensive", I'm prone to ordering raw bar and/or charcuterie, which is intriguingly well represented on their menu and can add up fast. I figure we'll do the 5 course prix-fixe from Gracie's ($75), which won't be too much of a budget-buster for me (It'll just make October's austerity program a little more austere for the time being.) and will probably end up being a fair value overall. Cheers!

                  1. re: BrettLove

                    Sorry for not getting back sooner with an epilogue & follow-up thanks; Gracie's was really nice & Mom loved it. I wasn't totally blown away, but hardly disappointed either. I'll spare you my poor, amateur reviewing, but most impressive in my recollection was a bay scallop crudo app. & the foie course (which, along with the cheese course, make up the 2 add'l courses in the 7 vs. 5 menus). Our main, rabbit, which appeared to be a nod to my "no raw or overt alcohol" request, as our neighbors got braised shortribs, was unfortunately (I generally totally dig bunny) the weakest. All in all, a great time though, and I'd return for sure. Thanks again for your tips, and a happy new year!

              2. re: Gin n Tonic

                Hey, Hey, Gin and Tonic...(I am a Rhode Islander by birth and am there every couple of weeks, but live in The Berkshires)...just a footnote to your post (with respect)...I have run the CVS 5K in downtown Providence a few times. I have ALSO walked from downtown Providence to Mills tavern and also up to the hill. But, what do I know?...I am only 67...we aging boomers ARE still ambulatory. Also, I would walk, if I had to, to Bacaro from downtown Providence...was there for the first time three weeks ago and loved it. I would recommend Bacaro to anybody. In fact, I would choose Bacaro over CAV any time. And to me, Mills Tavern is just wonderful. The paradox?--I LOVE running, but HATE walking (it takes so long to get somewhere).

                1. re: AikiLou

                  Thanks, but an odd comment, as I never mentioned Mills or Bacaro, which would be an easier walk from the Biltmore at any rate. CAV isn't just pretty far, it's through an area that doesn't see much foot traffic.

                  1. re: Gin n Tonic

                    Oh, Okay, I thought you were referring to us aging boomers--that BrettLove's mother being 60ish might not be capable of a 15 minute walk...that said...Mills and Bacaro ARE really good restaurants...