Providence,RI - Lunch and Dinner recommendations for 'chowmeet' between two serious foodies from Toronto and Singapore
- Charles Yu Apr 1, 2014 12:47 PM
Fellow Singapore chowhounder Fourseason and myself had been having annual chowmeets all over the world for almost a decade. Last year we had a great 'Michelin Star Run' in New York, where we ate at Jean George, The Modern, Casa Mono...etc
This summer, due to various reasons, we might be having our annual chowmeet in Providence/!! We both love seafood, fine dining and what ever taste great....!.
After some searching on this board, 'Gracie's' and ' La Laiterie' seems like a couple of interesting places for a nice gathering and some fine food. Are they too fancy for lunch? Since information was dated around 2011-2012, I am hoping for an updated confirmation of current form and food quality.
In addition to the aforementioned two, any other great, relatively new comers worthy of recommendation? Establishment with seafood as their forte would be a plus.
BTW, great chow is our first and major criteria. If establishments are less refined in ambiance, decor and service, its fine with us. Afterall, our culinary ventures had taken us to hole-in-the-wall places in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore...etc.
Thank you all in advance!!
How about Mantunuck Oyster in South Kingstown especially for lunch by the water on an oyster farm? It's a bit if a drive from Providence but the food and drive is great. I also suggest Portuguese, O Dinis in East Providence comes to mind. Something totally off the beaten path, how about the chimi and food trucks that serve authentic Dominican/Peruvian street food on Broad Street at night for supper?
For fine foodie dining, I'd strongly recommend relative newcomer Birch in downtown Providence (2013 opening). I think they are putting out better and more consistently interesting food than Farmstead at this point. The atmosphere is also more unique, and at my last visit, they served me one of the finest fish dishes I've ever had the pleasure to eat. Gracie's is excellent as well, a reliable choice. I'd also recommend North, a few minutes west of downtown. Very interesting, exciting food, unlike anything else being served in Providence (strongly influenced by Momofuku, if you like that sort of thing.)
Matunuck oysters are some of the best I've ever tasted, and while the rest of the food at the oyster bar is enjoyable and the view is lovely, I'm honestly not sure I'd rent a car to get there. I would, however, go out of my way to get to Persimmon--a foodie treasure in Bristol, RI. Multiple James Beard nominations. There are always excellent fresh seafood options on the menu. The plates (as at Birch and Gracie's) are as delightful to look at as they are to eat. Highly recommended for serious eating. Need reservations well in advance for either of the two nightly seatings.
So in my personal order or priority: (1) Birch, (2) Persimmon, (3) Gracie's, (4) North
Hello Charles; nice to see you on this board! Gracie's and La Laiterie are not too fancy for lunch, but I think Gracie's only opens at 5:00 p.m.. My favorite Providence restaurants are Pot au Feu and Chez Pascal.
Pot au Feu has the best roast duck around: as delicious as any I've had in Hong Kong, just French in style. Chez Pascal makes all of their own charcuterie: top notch. Pot au Feu opens for dinner only; Chez Pascal opens for dinner but offers only its "Wurst Kitchen" for lunch.
I look forward to reading about your Rhode Island experiences. Cheers!
re: Charles Yu
Hello Charles: Everything was closed/closing by the time we got to Kowloon, so we had some fairly decent won ton mien and mediocre roast goose at a little dai pai dong near Biergarten. By then, we were glad to have it!
I see that you like oysters: For my tastes, the best oysters come from Long Island Sound up to Canada, but my favorites are from Rhode Island and Cape Cod. Please try the locals, like Salt Pond Selects, Ninigret Cups, Poppasquash, Wellfleet, etc. These are Crassostrea virginica, not the Crassostrea gigas, and they are clean, briny and without the "metallic" flavor of European and Pacific oysters. Of course, lots of people prefer those!
Good places for local raw oysters in Providence are Hemenway's, Providence Oyster Bar on Atwells Avenue (a foodie street), and McCormick & Schmick's (chain).
Hi Charles! Surprising to see you on this board! I'm a Singaporean chowhounder currently based in Providence (graduating this May).
1. Dinner - Birch is a must do (for dinner). I have been there more than 10 times since they opened last July, they are simply head and shoulders the most innovative restaurant in RI, and the best I've tried in New England.
You can read some of my write-ups on my blog on birch: kennethtiongeats.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/birch-providence-sep-13-loca-vore-movement/
2. Breakfast - If you are in for Breakfast, try Kitchen - they have the best bacon I've tried in the Northeast (including NYC)
3. Dinner - Persimmon in Bristol (25 min drive) has a playful take on RI fare that is unique, it's probably the second best restaurant I've tried in RI after Birch.
4. Dinner - My experiences at North have been decent. Their best dishes are the ham biscuit and fried chicken. Thier food is similar to Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC. I would get their vegetable offerings and avoid their noodle offerings, which are much better done at Ssam Bar.
5. Lunch/Dinner - I'm going to say avoid La Laiterie and Gracie's. You will be disappointed.
6. Dinner - Get the polenta from Mike's Kitchen if you can. Canteen style dining, but very good polenta. It was once featured in NYTimes.
RECOMMENDATIONS I'VE HEARD FROM OTHERS I TRUST
7. Matunuck oyster bar in the summertime I've heard is great
8. Black Pearl in Newport for New England clam chowder (Lunch, maybe?)
I, too, am surprised to see you here, Charles. I've used many of your posts over the years for our trips to Southeast Asia and I thank you for that!
I was born and bred in RI but now live in the Boston area. I go down to RI as often as I can, though I am not up-to-date on the latest in RI as the others here are.
Honestly, I would advise you not to seek out fine dining as you know it in RI. I've not been to Birch (the portions sound too small and precious for us!) but it seems to be the closest thing to fine dining as you'll get in RI.
I really enjoyed north but the place is TINY. You'll have to time your visit correctly if you decide to try it. I had a Burmese salad there last year that took me back to Burma. You'll definitely need a cab or car to get out there.
I think Providence/RI excels more in casual funky eatery-type places (I thank the art school, RISD, for that!). Rhode Islanders definitely do not like pretension. Hearty red sauce italian-American is very big in RI and can be found on Federal Hill, or a place like Mike's, as singaporediner suggests. Angelo's Civita Farnese is one example. Places like Chez Pascal, Julian's, Nick's on Broadway, Thee Red Fez, Harry's Burger Bar, and the Grange are popular, more trendy spots in Providence but I don't think I'd send visitors from Singapore to these places. (I'll link to them anyway.) Olga's is cute for breakfast although I love Nick's for breakfast. A RI institution is the NY System wiener. Del's frozen lemonade, coffee cabinets (a RI-style milkshake), RI-style fried calamari (with hot banana peppers) are also foods that are closely identified with RI.
Providence also has a sizable Guatemalan population but I am not well-versed in the food.
If you have time, I would recommend a drive south to the seashore. Matunuck Oyster Bar is fabulous, but again, very casual. It doesn't look like much from the exterior, but we have had some of the best whole belly fried clams, lobster rolls, and oysters there, all washed down with cold white wine or beer. In the Bristol/Warren area, there is Persimmon (as already mentioned), Quito's, Blount Clam Shack (closed now but will re-open for the summer). Nearby Newport has a lot of restaurants and gets really hectic in the summertime, Bristol and Warren less so. Jamestown (Beavertail Park) is gorgeous and the small Main Street area (Narragansett Avenue) has several simple restaurants. One favorite place is Village Hearth Bakery (open only on weekends).
If you do come to Providence this summer, Waterfire, a display of 100 flaming cauldrons lining the Providence River, is a spectacular evening experience not to be missed. Lightings are from May to November.
Newport has more seafood options than Providence but you would need a car. The harbor area and the sumptuously ornate summer mansions, "cottages" to their 19th century industrialist owners, are well worth a visit,
A recent thread on dining in Newport may be helpful.
Finding dining experiences in the Providence area not common to New York,Toronto or Singapore is the challenge. Several posts in this thread offer suggestions.