Providence for a First-Timer
Two questions for you Providence veterans:
1. Is it a bad move to go on a Sunday evening (as opposed to Saturday)? I tried to find out who's in the kitchen on Sundays, but the restaurant wouldn't say.
2. We were thinking of doing the 5-course, then supplementing with a cheese course and maybe something else. Is this a decent plan, and if so, what would you suggest for the "something else"?
Yes the five course is a great way to start. You are in for a wonderful meal. Plenty to eat. I've been on Sundays and the kitchen was great. Sunday is a little mellower that Saturdays. Great service too. They also serve a six course dessert tasting menu if you have room left. Enjoy.
You'll fine on Sunday. A restaurant like this is not dependent on any one chef for execution. I've been there when Mr. Ciramusti is there and when he isn't and find no difference.
I'd suggest going for one of the bigger tasting menus. There's a greater chance of being delightfully overwhelmed - which is always nice. .
My only other thoughts are that I personally like to show up a bit early to have a cocktail and chat with the bartender to set the mood! Their drinks really are great and there is no better way to zero in on the right one then to talk to the person making them.
Secondly, Providence does have 2 main rooms (not including the kitchen table and the special event wine cellar room behind the bar). Although I think you'll be fine on a Sunday, if you were going at a more peak day/time I'd try and avoid the second 'overflow' room that feels a bit disconnected to me. If that's something you care about maybe give them a ring. If you want to get extra pushy, they have 2 x four person tables with booth seating for two of the people. Those are my favorite for 4 people.
Also, there is a single 2 top in the bar which can be fun on a more casual night, but for a first time with the tasting I'd say go with the main room.
edit- lastly maybe some others can chime in here, but you might want to mention prior to arrival that you'll be doing the tasting? Not sure if it matters.
I've only been once, when Chef Cimarusti (nice spoonerism, foodiemahoodie <g>) was out of town, so I can't give an actual comparison vs. when he was there, but the food I had (at lunch on a Friday) was excellent. I had the five-course tasting menu, but I wish I had gone with one of the bigger tasting menus (like foodiemahoodie said). However, if you have a main course in mind but also want to sample, I'd get the five-course and the additional entree. That way you get the best of both worlds, as the portions in the tasting menu weren't very big.
In my experience, the 5 course is fine if you supplement with the salt baked prawns, the sea urchin hiding under scrambled eggs (part of larger tastings but not 5 course), the very delicious ugly bunch which is raw santa Barbara prawns, sea urchin, abalone, mirugai on top of smoked panna cotta, and/or the chitarra pasta with truffles (ups the cost significantly).