Providence, Rhode Island
Waterfire in Providence, Rhode Island
I just returned from my very first trip to Providence, Rhode Island where I met up with my sister, who had spent the week studying at Brown University. When she announced that she’d been accepted to the cadre a couple of months ago, in less than 15 minutes I had booked my flight. I’d always wanted to go to Rhode Island – something about it being such a tiny little state has fascinated me since childhood. Perhaps because I”m from a tiny little town?
Anyway, shortly after making my travel arrangements, I started researching restaurants. Between my sister’s input from things she’d read, a call out on Twitter and some digging on Chowhound, we had a substantial list of options. Providence is not lacking in the area of good restaurants, that is for sure!
The first restaurant added to the must-do list was Gracie’s.
With an overwhelming number of positive reviews, Gracie’s did not disappoint. Known for their 7-course “chef’s whim” tasting menu, that was the route I’d planned to go until I found out that our trip coincided with Providence Restaurant Weeks. For only $29.95 they were offering a special 3-course option that was just too good for us to pass up.
My sister started off her meal with the Heirloom Tomato Salad with Narragansett creamery mozzarella, aged balsamic, cucumber pearls, garden herbs and flowers (pictured above). I have a thing for corn soup, so my first course was a no-brainer. Do you see those succulent pieces of lobster?!
Native Sweet Corn Soup
butter poached lobster, foraged mushrooms, green onion
Then it was on to the main course. The Crescent Farms Duck was calling to me. Served with a blue cheese potato croquette, roasted beets, spicy greens, and Rainier cherry mostarda, it was delectable.
My sister’s fresh salmon was truly a fresh catch, as it had just come through the back door direct from the waters of the Atlantic. Served on a bed of lentils with tiny edible flowers sprinkled on the plate, it tasted as good as it looks.
And of course there is dessert. Mine: a brown butter pound cake with bourbon glazed nectarines, buttermilk gelato, ginger pecans, and tarragon. Hers: a Rainier cherry tart with chocolate port reduction, toasted almond tuile, and Neoplitan semifreddo. A truly sweet ending to my first night in truly lovely city.
194 Washington St
providence, RI 02903
Naan Breakfast Pizza
with scrambled eggs, plum tomatoes, cheddar, & bacon
I woke up Saturday morning so excited for our brunch plans. We were going to Nick’s on Broadway, a place I’d read so much about and was looking forward to more than any other restaurant in Providence. Fodor’s named it one of the world’s best restaurants in 2009 and 2010, Esquire magazine said it was one of the best places for breakfast in America.
So even though our hotel served a full, free breakfast, we were going to shell out the cash to take a cab ride across town and then throw down a few more bucks for an amazing breakfast at Nick’s.
When the cab pulled up in front of the restaurant, my heart fell. It was obvious from the street that chairs were stacked on tables. There was a white piece of paper taped on the door. They were closed for a 3 week long holiday break! Nooooo!!
Now here we are, across town, sitting in a cab with no idea where to go. I didn’t have an alternative plan for brunch because Nick’s was THE place I wanted to eat this particular meal. Long story short, we got out of the cab and spent a few minutes walking around Federal Hill while I frantically researched other options on my phone.
Lucky for us, just a few blocks from Nick’s there was Julian’s, which, according to reviews, served a pretty fantastic brunch.
Coffee Milk at Julian’s
And honestly, as disappointed as I was in not being able to go to Nick’s, I have nothing but great things to say about Julian’s. Everything we had was wonderful and we left there more stuffed than I remember being in a long, long time. A word of warning if you ever go- the portions are HUGE!
We could have easily split one main dish and gotten a couple of sides and that would have been more than enough. Instead, my sister got the naan pizza served with home fries and a side of French toast. I got the La Zulrich omelet, which consisted of egg, fried eggplant, tomato confit, mushrooms & feta and a side of sweet potato hash with broccoli & swiss.
When we finally called it quits, there was still enough left on our plates to feed two more small people or one large one.
Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that I tried the official state drink of Rhode Island, coffee milk. Similar to chocolate milk, coffee milk is flavored with coffee syrup instead of chocolate syrup. Pretty yummy.
Providence, RI 02909-1102
La Laiterie cheese plate with herbed candied nuts, honey, and rhubarb jam
Our dinner on Saturday night was probably our favorite meal of them all, and it was actually a last minute addition to the itinerary. The day before I left Nashville, my friend Kathleen mentioned that one of her favorite cheese shops in the country was in Providence. Being the cheese aficionado that she is, I decided we should probably check it out.
After having such a huge breakfast, we weren’t at all hungry for lunch, but knew we’d be hungrier earlier than normal for dinner. So a new plan was formed. We would ditch our original dinner plans and instead go for an early bite to eat at the cheese shop’s attached bistro, La Laiterie. So very happy that we did this.
It was such a gorgeous day that we settled into a table at the sidewalk bistro right at 5 pm, and didn’t move from that space until almost 7:30 pm. One dish after another was brought to us, starting with the cheese plate, followed by the beautiful watermelon gazpacho shown above.
My sister had what she claims may be the best burger she’s ever had in her life, a 1/2 pound vermont, all natural burger with sweet pepper jelly & cheddar cheese. I will say that it was damn good and I was a little jealous.
As I did the night prior, I opted to go with the restaurant week 3-course tasting menu.
Smoky All Natural Chicken Sausage with Little City “Potato Salad”, Whole Grain Mustard
Pan Roasted Native Striped Bass, Grilled Berkshire Pork Belly, Elote Velute & Summer Vegetables
Rhubarb Upside Down Cake with Strawberry Ice Cream
In addition to the amazing meal, I also picked up some insane blue cheese shortbread in the cheese shop. I simply must figure out how to recreate these at home!
If ever you’re in Providence, please plan to make this a stop on your trip. I promise, you will thank me.
186/188 Wayland Ave