SF Hound coming to Providence for one day
Interested in whatever is unique to the area, anything quirky, anything that we can't get in SF. Price isn't any issue, but we'd prefer not to eat more than one really pricey meal while we're there. Seafood is of particular interest.
It would help to know what night of the week and whether you'll have a car (and what your acceptable driving radius is.) The main thing I can think of that you can get here that you may not find in SF is oysters, since East coast oysters are very different than West coast - but the best place in the vicinity will be a 45-minute drive. If you're here on a Tuesday, New Rivers has dollar oyster night, which is a hell of a deal. Providence Oyster Bar is good, too, just not necessarily a bargain. East coast lobster is something you won't get, either, but I never eat lobster out, so I can't recommend any particular place.
Oddly, given our proximity to the water, Providence is not strong in specifically seafood restaurants. IMO, the best job currently being done with local seafood is the more locavore-oriented places like Nick's and La Laiterie (and New Rivers, to some extent) who have developed direct relationships with RI-based fishermen, and often have outstanding specials. But it's difficult to predict who will have what when.
And if you want something unique to the area, quirky, and definitely not pricey, get a "New York System" hot weiner (which has nothing whatsoever to do with New York.)
re: Gin n Tonic
There are two of us and our trip is from noon on 11/12 (Sat) to around 2 p.m. 11/13 (Sun) and we will have a car. Restaurants don't have to be specifically seafood, but would definitely be nice if there was a particularly good seafood dish somewhere. Thanks for the great suggestions!
Since you'll be here Sunday, I'd recommend hitting Nick's for brunch - it's the best brunch in the city. On Saturday, if the weather is good and you're up for a bit of a drive, go to Matunuck Oyster Bar. It's about 45 minutes from the city, but the setting is great. That's the week after the time change, though, so you'll want to get there early (sunset is at 4:30), ideally to sit outside for a bit and catch the sunset. As I said, only if the weather is good; otherwise it can be pretty miserable, and it's a small space inside. But you can't get more local than their oysters.
If the weather isn't cooperating, I'd suggest following the Twitter feeds of the fish suppliers (@kintrawler, @traceandtrustNE, @wild_Rhody) and some of the chefs who use them (@matthewjennings, @newriversbeau, @nicksonbroadway) and see if there's any interesting action. Even if there isn't, you're assured of finding plenty of interesting dishes made from locally sourced or foraged ingredients.
If you eat early enough, and do some drinking, that'll give you an opportunity to hit up Haven Bros. late at night for local color. That's a diner in a truck that's parked next to City Hall late at night for people who've had too much to drink.