Mills Tavern (Providence) or Red Bridge Tavern (East Providence)
Planning a dinner for three for Saturday night with a colleague whom I have not seen in about 40 years. We need someplace not noisy, but with interesting food.
The two choices represent two possible directions: either homey family style, (RBT) with a bit of local color, but possibly too noisy, or formal, more pretentious (MT) but possibly over-priced. I have not seen any recent discussion of Mills Tavern, but the on-line menu looks interesting. The menu at RBT is not exciting, but the off-menu specials are supposed to be worth it. Are they?
Federal Hill is off the list. Bacaro is way over priced, e.g. $30 for a sausage main course.
All three of us have spent a lot of time in Italy so Rhode Island Italian is not a good choice. On the other hand RI Portuguese is a bit more unusual.
I know that the Bacaro salumi choices are cheaper than the mains, but one of us does not eat pork or shell fish and the other is flying to Rome a few days after the meal. Other places on the radar screen are Broadway Bistro, Parkside. La Latiterie, Nick's, The Rue, Spain. I think I tried Gracie's several years ago and was not overwhelmed. I suspect that The Dorrance is much too stuffy. But I say that simply because I am allergic to any place with a "The" in front of it. Loie Fuller's is off our list because we need a reservation and can't get there until after 8 when the place will be noisy and packed. The Rue de l'Espoir is an old favorite, but I have not been there in decades. Is it still worth trying? As I recall it is reasonably low-key and the food is reliable, if nothing spectacular.
The Rue is still very good, low-key and reliable. Have eaten there several times this past year and I go all the way back to first stopping in around 1977, so it has a long, consistent and high standard. I am eager to try The Dorrance. A video with the chef and scan of the menu and prices makes it look like the real deal without attitude, but only a visit will prove it...
You know that Mills is expensive, you've seen the menu. We love it for special occasions. I think it's worth it: elegant setting, excellent food. Service: last time we were there, the men were in tuxes, the women in black, they took away our white napkins and brought us black ones so we wouldn't get white lint on our clothes. Probably unnecessary but I was impressed anyway.
101 N Main St, Providence, RI 02903