Cook and Brown, Providence: death by a thousand cuts
I really want to like Cook and Brown: it's got a great approach to local, seasonal, and interesting food, it's a mom-n-pop operation, and it's got a great space, but I've had too many little things go wrong there. Any one of these would be an "oh well, off night, no biggie" but it's reached critical mass. Ive been there four times, and the laundry list includes: bizarrely hard "walnuts" that had the texture of bone fragments, stale bread, an insufficiently sturdy brioche bun on a hamburger, hilariously terrible music (and it takes a lot to make me notice), wilted, slimy lettuce in a salad, a strange plasticky aroma to some bread, and well-intentioned but amateur service.
In those four visits, I also had some really delicious food-- a succulent and velvety ragu, a tender and juicy burger (perfectly cooked), some delightful vegetable purees and creamy soups, fresh, sprightly salads, a great smoked bluefish pate, creative, well-executed cocktails, and really sensitively-handled seasonal vegetables.
So I don't know what the deal is-- I suspect it's an issue of training. The concepts are usually good, but they suffer in the execution.
I do hope they figure it out. I'm going to give them some time before I try again. There are too many great places in Providence for me to keep going back frequently.
Or maybe my experiences have just been a string of unlucky coincidences. What's your experience been?
Thanks for the great review. We haven't been yet but it sounds consistent with what we have heard from others, but it is a glass half full or empty situation. Others we know love it and forgive their foibles. I'm looking forward to trying it myself now...
i don't know how to account for your bad experiences, but my wife and i have eaten here 4 or 5 times over the last year and it has been uniformly excellent. their valentines day tasting menu was one of the most noteworthy meals we've had all year. cocktails always creative and expertly prepared. they have been climbing the ranks of our favorite providence restaurants, nipping at the heels of chez pascal, nicks, broadway bistro, etc.
I have had similar experiences. I ordered a savory bread pudding special for dinner the last time I as there and frankly it was embarassingly dry and tasteless, especially given the price. There are things I really like about the place, but they miss just enough that I don't go there often.
We had a waiter there pour the water pitcher onto our tablecloth, giggle and say, "I'm so clumsy." Rather than change the cloth he blotted it with our napkins and left. Never again.