Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday Brunch at Loie Fuller

Providence is a food town and good, even great food is easy to stumble across. But there are few restaurants in the city or the state for that matter, with the look and feel of Loie Fuller.

Named after an American dancer who made her name and fortune in Paris, Loie Fuller (she was called "Louie" as a child but dropped the "u" when she moved abroad) is decorated, indeed styled inside and out, in the very traditional art nouveau style favored in Paris in the late 19th century. While some of the interior artwork smacks a bit of New Age, the woodwork is incredibly well-done, and feel of this place is at once homey and artsy at the same time.

Since we live right across the street, we often drop by for an aperitif but haven't eaten here for some months (the food has been inconsistent). The restaurant changed hands within the past year and is now operated by the former chef and his partner so now it's a very hands-on operation.

Anyway, we had heard good things about their new brunch (Sunday 10am-3pm) and wanted to give it a try.

We arrived around 11am and were the first ones seated. Service was friendly, attentive and pleasant.

The brunch menu is very limited but the items available spot on: poached eggs, omelet, beignets, French toast. While we sipped a pair of Mimosas we scanned down the small menu cards.

Susie ordered the omelet and I opted for the poached eggs with a side of hash browns. Both came with a delicious green salad with a mustard dressing reminiscent of meals we've eaten in Paris. The food was quite good although the hash browns were a bit odd: they consisted of two round thick patties of shredded potatoes that had apparently been deep fried and as a result were quite greasy with a heavy flavor of fried oil. I would not order them again.

By the time we left quite a few folks had come in. Four young men came in and were seated at a table next to us -- they sat there with their hats on while they discussed the food options at MacDonald's. Naturally.

To get a feel for the place visit them online; they have a nice 3D tour to give you a good view of the wonderful interior. But be warned you will have a hard time reading the wine list -- the font is a too cute and the size too small for the web.

Loie Fuller's
1455 Westminster Street
Providence, RI

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Red Stripe on the East side of Providence

We returned safely from the notorious East side of Providence. Last evening we made a foray out into the wilds of the Wayland Square Area, a hotbed of urban chic and infamous for its overpriced land and trendy shops with names like "Runcible Spoon" -- "Runcible"?! A land where the Obama stickers on Volvo wagons are as prevalent as the boutique ice creams in the local grocery stores.

This also happens to be a land where you can find some very good food.

After a quick stop at Whole Foods (hey, just for bananas; we skipped the boutique ice creams) Susie and I parked the car on the street -- a risk I know on the East side -- and walked over to La Laiterie to (1) see if we could grab a table for dinner and (2) see if Susie could get her flexi-molds back from Matt Jennings. (He's the Matt part of the incredible Matt and Kate team that have turned the Farmstead Cheese shop and La Laterie cafe into two of the best reasons to head to the East Side for dinner.)

Since the wait was 30-40 minutes and nary a place to hang out in sight -- Susie opted to get her molds back another time -- we strolled over to Red Stripe, almost around the corner (well, two corners at least). We had had a drink her once before (while waiting for a table at La Laiterie no less) and thought we would give the place a chance.

The joint was, as they say, jumpin' -- a wee bit noisy but within reason. Anyway we opted to sit at the bar, which when you first walk in appears to be something like a quarter of a mile long. The bartender was friendly, candid (about the food, we didn't inquire about anything personal) and with a genuine smile at the ready for everyone.

We started with two glasses of Campari avec soda and ordered the calamari app. The drinks were generous and nicely done; the calamari, on the other hand, was tough, chewy, rubber-like, with almost dry casings. It was, to say the least, quite unappealing -- frankly it was "yucky."

We sent it back -- no replacement thank you -- and awaited the main course.

Here we were not disappointed: Susie got the cod loin wrapped in proscuitto on a bed of brown lentils; I went for the "steak frites." Both dishes were generously portioned and very tasty; my hanger steak was quite tender and Susie's cod was scrumptious.

The dessert menu lacked anything to tempt us -- fairly standard creme brulee, hot fudge sundae, that sort of thing.

Overall: very good service, friendly and attentive; reasonable prices, but off-balanced food.

Yeah, I'd say we should've waited for the table at La Laterie.

Red Stripe
465 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02906
401-437-6950 (for reservations)