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Oct 10, 2013 10:24 AM

Child-UNfriendly restaurants in Providence

A few years ago, I posted here to ask about child-friendly restaurants in Providence. I had a 9-month-old kid at the time and wanted to eat at places that were great but wouldn't flinch at a squirmy baby sitting there and possibly getting ornery.

Well, that trip went so well that I'll be moving to Rhode Island along with my wife and my son, who is now almost 4, in a few weeks. We're making a trip this weekend to look for housing -- and we're leaving the kid at home.

And therefore I am in the position to ask the opposite of the question I've asked here several times about several cities: What are some great restaurants in Providence where kids WOULDN'T be appropriate? This may be the last chance we have for quite a while to have an adults-only dinner, so I'd love to hit a place that I won't be able to patronize for a while.

You didn't let me down before, so I know I'll get some good recommendations. Thanks!

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  1. Welcome to the neighborhood, masterofzen!
    As you probably noticed the last time you were here, most places in PVD seem pretty child-friendly. In the absence of any specific likes/dislikes in your post, I'll recommend a few places that might be difficult to bring a child for a variety of reasons. You can find more detailed information on almost any of these places by poking around the board a little bit.

    Places that feature great booze:
    The Eddy, 95 Eddy Street (this place is amazing for cocktails and for pre-dinner apps)
    Julians, 318 Broadway (best beer selection in PVD, I think; good for brunch, but I'd skip dinner)
    Justine's, 11 Olneyville Square (elegant and hidden speakeasy in a bit of a dodgy neighborhood, look for the lingere store ;)

    Places that are small and intimate:
    Birch, 200 Washington Street (a "food bar", bar seating only, amazing small plates)
    Flan y Ajo. 225A Westminster Street (byob with wine shop next door, only 8 seats--4 at the bar--and standing room, authentic Spanish tapas)
    North, 3 Luongo Square (exciting South American meets Asian cuisine for the more adventurous eater)
    Farmstead/La Laiterie, 186 Wayland Square (famous for cheese, small but well-executed seaonal menu)

    Places that are upscale and elegant:
    Gracie's, 194 Washington Street (for me, a "special occassion" sort of place, thoughtful seasonal cuisine)
    The Dorrance, 60 Dorrance Street (great food and cocktails in an imposing former bank space)

    If you give us some additional guidance, we could probably give some more targeted suggestions.

    5 Replies
    1. re: RhodyRedHen

      Thanks a lot for the tips, and for the welcome! These should probably do it, honestly. Sorry I wasn't more specific, but I don't think I was really looking for a specific cuisine this time around (last time I had said my only musts were Italian in Federal Hill and seafood). I'm on a generous expense account for this trip, so I suppose I was looking for something like your last two suggestions -- if you've got it, flaunt it, right?

      What I'll do is take a look at all the menus, pick something that looks great and report back after I've done.

      1. re: masterofzen

        Just wanted to check back in -- we ended up eating at The Dorrance, where I most definitely will not be bringing my son, so good call on that.

        We actually had some mixed feelings on it. The space -- you can't beat that. The only comparable-looking restaurant I can ever recall visiting was one in the base of the 59th Street Bridge in Manhattan. I'd recommend people eat here for the looks alone.

        The food was respectable, but we thought it was a little disappointing for the price point. First off, the cocktails were as good as advertised -- mine had about eight ingredients, and yet they came together perfectly. My wife's wine was spectacular, too -- rare to drink a wine with no aftertaste whatsoever.

        We had a small pasta appetizer that I have no complaints about at all. Both of us, though, had the duck a l'orange with ricotta spaetzle as an entree. While perfectly decent, the duck itself was overcooked and the ricotta spaetzle bore no trace of the ricotta -- actually, it was one of the more flavorless spaetzle dishes I've had. The duck's sauce was good, so I used it to give the spaetzle a little more kick.

        Dessert was kind of weird. We got the zabaglione for two. It was the runniest zabaglione I've ever had, though tasty, but here was the frustrating thing -- it was served in a big bowl in the middle of the table. Imagine eating soup that you have to reach for with your spoon. Definitely a little messy.

        Service was attentive and super friendly, but they did forget to bring our appetizer and ended up bringing it out with the entrees. Everyone was very apologetic, though no comps or anything. (By contrast, I just went to lunch got a free cookie at a sandwich shop because they screwed up my order and I had to wait another two or three minutes for the right one.)

        So anyway, good experience, great setting, but I don't know if I'd go back with or without a small child when there are so many other places out there.

        Thanks for the help, Rhody!

        1. re: masterofzen

          Bummer about the Dorrance, but thanks for the report back. I've had several good experiences there (especially when it comes to cocktails) and unfortuantely one dinner experience quite similar to what you described. As you say, the space is certainly not too child-friendly, so at least there's that. Chalk it up to experience and enjoy the other bright lights of the PVD dining scene--I have seen kids at almost every other place in my original post, including North (which sort of blew my mind at the time) and Flan y Ajo. I think you'd feel comfortable most places, especially if you eat at an earlier hour. Happy eating!

      2. re: RhodyRedHen

        I have been to each listed place except Justine's. Never even heard of it. Could you expand on it. It sounds like it's just around the corner for NYS.

        1. re: tanker64

          Hi tanker65! Justine's is Mark Sears' latest outpost (the guy who brought us the Avery, Lili Marlene, and Ama's [RIP].) It's beautiful, as you might expect.

          It is, indeed, in Olneyville Square right by NYS. I think one of the bartenders hails from the Dorrance, which in my book is a very good thing. Many excellent and classic cocktails are available for $5.00. Who doesn't love a good deal? Also, there's some bar food, but nothing to make a whole meal out of (unless you want to drink your dinner).

          Evidently the whole "secret speakeasy" thing has been a trend in NYC, but it's only just arrived in PVD. Justine's is unmarked, per usual for Mark Sears. Just look for the lingere store from the street, the bar is behind the curtain ;)