Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dinner at Andrea's House

After a gorgeous day here in Providence, part of which we spent on the East Bay Bike Path taking in the budding of early spring, we had a lovely dinner at the home of a colleague.

The tasty food was matched only by the lively conversation.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Nami on Federal Hill in Providence

Smack in the middle of Italian Federal Hill Nami is a very cool space to have a special dinner with a loved one or share a meal with friends.

Recently opened on Atwells Avenue, this is a place to sit, relax have a glass of prosecco or, if you're adventurous, a cocktail made with hot or cold sake.

After being seated around a hibachi table -- you can choose to sit at a traditional table if you're not in to the tableside schtick -- we relaxed over a glass of sparkling wine in tall bud vases. They were so good we had a second round. Not long after we ordered drinks three young men, friends as it turned out, were also seated at our table. They were clearly locals and it was fascinating to see three seemingly stereotypical Federal Hill types love this place before the evening was out.

vegetable tempura appetizer

First up for us were the apps:  the vegetable tempura and beef Nagamaki rolls for appetizers. Both were scrumptious and the beef especially was very different  with a wonderful glazing sauce. Together they made for a very nice contrast: the crunchy smooth flavor of the veggies with the lusciousness of the beef.

no, really, I'm awake!
Beef Nagamaki appetizer

Miso soup, that and a small green salad comes with the Hibachi dinner
The hibachi portion of the evening was the real treat though.

We hadn't eaten this style for many years and over the wine we chatted about past experiences, our minds flooding back to the first time at a Benihana in Bethesda, Maryland and a favorite hibachi restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia. So, I ordered the filet and Susie had the mix of chicken and salmon; all with fried rice which was prepared right at the table as well.

Earlier in the day I happened to mention to my wife earlier that I wanted beef for my 65th birthday and since I also love Asian cuisine, especially Japanese and Chinese, the hibachi was the best of both worlds. (and frankly, I really wouldn't have wanted a traditional beef meal with heavy sides and even heavier sauces.) 

The food was perfectly prepared, flavors spot on and the chef artistic and playful, shooting sake into the mouths of several other diners around our table, flipping shrimp in my direction to catch, that kind of thing. The hibachi portions were certainly enough for dinner so be prepared to take some home if you opt for an app or two.

making the fried rice

filet mignon


Oh, and on our way out the hostess-owner suggested that since we loved the Nagamaki rolls, next time (and there will be a next time to be sure) we should try the Crusted Salmon on the main menu. If I can stay away from the hibachi. . . 

Our server was very nice, friendly, helpful and around when we needed her and understanding of our privacy when we did not.

They have valet parking but when we go to Atwells we park on a side street and walk a block or two.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Grange on Providence's West Side

Well, you've got to take a little bit of the bad with a whole lot of the good, I suppose.

Four of us met up at the new vegetarian restaurant on Providence's West Side last evening. The service was, in a word, great. Not pushy friendly but the kind of witty charm that I'd want my daughter to have (if I had a daughter).

The drinks were fine -- although the Eddy has, we all thought, a more sophisticated grasp of what a true cocktail should be.

Our food arrived in a timely fashion, although business picked up considerably after we arrived. I had the Korean BBQ tacos and two of us had pomme frites. Another had the noodles, my wife had the scallion pancakes with sweet potato crostini, and a fourth had the soup special of the day (scrumptious cauliflower puree). All of us readily agreed that the food was delicious, well-prepared and nicely presented. to repeat, the menu is all vegetarian.

The atmosphere is funky with a corner near the front devoted to swings, small couches of the sort you'd see in someone's sunroom, that sort of thing, all making for a warm feeling, a welcoming touch to be sure.

The single negative vibe for the evening was the noise level.

As more people come in for dinner the noise level increased significantly, abetted by the background music playing -- a phenomenon we all remarked on. Why do so many restaurants play music in the background when you can't really make out who's singing/playing what because the rest of the place is so noisy? Odd we thought.

Oh, and parking is on a very busy street so be prepared to hunt around for a spot.


pomme frites

Korean BBQ tacos

sweet potato crostini

scallion pancakes

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Olga's Cup and Sauce, Autumn Cafe, and Fancheezical Food Truck

Waiting at Olga's

tuna salad

more waiting
Havarti melt with Black Forest ham

Autumn Cafe on Benefit Street - "if pigs could fly" . . . turkey and ham with Havarti cheese all nicely melted under the broiler


Fancheezical food truck on Weybosset Street. . .

Crazy corn cup -- roasted corn, crema mexican cheese,  bacon and avocado

Chez Pascal

hake and fennel
Located on the East side of Providence, at the top of Hope Street and almost in Pawtucket is one of the city's better eateries -- and one of the growing number of reasons to forget about eating on Federal Hill.

Chez Pascal, under Matt and Kristin Gennuso not only provides a consistently tasty menu, but they source locally and Matt, like a few other Providence chefs, is a serious dabbler in charcuterie. Whether it's sausages from the Hewtin food truck cruising around town or from their imaginative wurst bar or sitting down to a relaxing dinner (which we did recently), you can't go wrong with these folks.

 But don't come to Chez Pascal for greens or salad alone; while delicious, its the protein that they're noted for so don't hesitate to go for the whatever Matt has prepared that day. I had the pork of thre day, prepared three ways on a nice portion of potato gratin. Deeeelicious indeed!

 Parking is street only but there's usually plenty to go around. Dinner with wine can be a bit pricey -- so if you're thinking budget, opt for the wurst bar and drink the house wines. Great value there!

por three ways on a potato gratin