One of the nicest parts about living in Providence is the very high density of quality restaurants. Almost every intersection in town is within a few blocks of an excellent eatery. So Restaurant Week is something to look forward to. This year we got a bonus week, so I got to eat out a lot. My only regret is the three months of workouts I’ll need to compensate for my gluttony.
Best Appetizer: Wurst with warm potato salad and pickled mustard, Chez Pascal. A tough category here, but Chez Pascal has to take the win because this wurst was delicious (and a perfect portion size). What’s incredible is that it’s the second best appetizer I had at Chez Pascal–we also ended up sharing a savory bread pudding appetizer that may actually be the best thing on their menu. This one looks a little heavy for summer, but the small portion size and the acid of the mustard and slaw kept it light enough to appreciate. Honorable Mentions: Tomato Tartare at Local 121, Arctic Char paté at New Rivers.
The wurst at Chez Pascal (photo by my friend Meng Choy)
Best Entree: Slow-roasted pork shoulder, Chez Pascal. By far the toughest category. I didn’t have one entree all week that was a dud (though I could have used some bread with my bolognese at Rosalina). This pork shoulder topped my list, though. The pork was cooked perfectly, the accompanying vegetables were delicious, and it was all I could do to keep myself from licking the plate. Honorable Mentions: Duck confit sandwich at Cav, chili-brined hanger steak at Waterman Grille
Best Entree (supplement): Wagyu steak with mushrooms, New Rivers. Providence Restaurant Week allows a restaurant to charge extra in order to be more flexible in what entrees they provide. It would be unfair to put this straight up against the normal ones. But my god this was wonderful. Look at that damn plate. The mushrooms played off the steak so well, and the fingerlings were a good, robust vegetable accompaniment. What made the dish, though, were those tomatoes, which were perfectly dressed and provided a bright, acid flavor that highlighted the strengths of the other components. God damn that was a great dish.
Steak at New Rivers. Photo by Meng
Best Dessert: Chocolate cheesecake, Local 121. Dessert is the weakest category overall. Everything was delicious, but few things I had during the week really wowed me. I could ding this dish too: it’s a little heavy for lunch, a little stiff against a spoon. But this chocolate cheesecake, served as a small cake rather than a slice, had a great balance of sweet and salt, and would be enough on its own to get me back there. Honorable Mention: Cannoli at Rosalina.
Best Dessert (that someone else got): Cookies at New Rivers. This is unfair because ginger cookies are my weakness. Also the coffee at New Rivers was amazing (I believe it comes from New Harvest).
Best Service: Chez Pascal. This is a tough category to judge on Restaurant Week, especially in a college town, where summer is a slow season. The quick upswing in customers put several dining rooms under visible duress. At Chez Pascal our server was prompt, knowledgeable about the wine list, and efficient. He did make one mistake in taking down the order, but since it resulted in our table getting to share some amazing bread pudding for free I can’t really complain about it. Honorable Mention: New Rivers.
Price to Belly: Parkside Rotisserie. We went for lunch and while the seafood crepes I ordered were not petite, the roast chicken entree was half of an actual goddamn chicken. The food at Parkside was very good, but this was one place that definitely wasn’t stingy about what it gave you for the price point. Honorable Mention: Waterman Grille.
Best Overall: New Rivers. With a strong appetizer, excellent entree, and a decent dessert (with such great coffee) this would be tough to beat. But every restaurant I went to had a solid menu and good flavors. Thanks to CAV, Chez Pascal, Local 121, Rosalina, and Waterman Grille for participating in Restaurant Weeks. I’m pretty sure I’ll visit all of you again before this time next year.
Arctic char pate with pickled vegetables at New Rivers. Photo by Meng