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How I eat in Providence

10 Sep

Having lived on-and-off in Providence for three years now, I have eaten a few things in this little city (founded by that magnificent advocate of religious liberty, Roger Williams, in 1636). It may be of some modest interest to my friends and readers in or around Providence, how I negotiate eating in the area. Here are some tips, arranged loosely by geographical area.

General Providence (The high-points of Providence food)

  1. Flan y Ajo – good seafood tapas.
  2. birch – exciting new restaurant by Ben Sukle (previously head chef at the Dorrance), opened in summer 2013. review to come. Preliminary comments on the summer 2013 menu: get the raw scallop, dehydrated beets, pt judith catch, and summer berries.
  3. north – interesting Asian-fusion seafood cooking (the chef worked with David Chang at Momofuku Ko). Good noodles.
  4. Los Andes – interesting Peruvian food, a bit out of the way if one doesn’t have a car.
  5. New Rivers – good oysters (Tuesday is oyster night), but they also do a great fluke here.
  6. La Laiterie – I like their lunchtime incarnation, Farmstead, for its burgers and pasta. But their fancy food come night, leaves me a bit cold.
  7. Gracie’s – Gracie’s does duck well. But the rest is not very memorable, unfortunately.
  8. Ellie’s – Ellie’s is Gracie’s bakery division. It has nice breads.
  9. Pastiche – one must try the Pastiche fruit tart, as well as their chocolate torte. Their apple tart is also very good.
  10. Bacaro – generally heavy-handed main courses (esp. the pasta), but the duck brioche and truffle scallops on the tapas menu are very good
  11. Cook & Brown – good cocktails and desserts, pasta mains so-so.
  12. Not Just Snacks – nice briyani

Thayer Street area (Brown’s main throughfare).

  1. Kabob and Curry has a good Cauliflower Mushroom Curry, and a Tikka Masala, Pair that with naan & papadum, or if one is feeling indulgent, fruit and coconut naan.
  2. Soban has great Korean chicken wings (4.75/5), and a good stone-pot bibimbap. The stews, however, are unconvincing. The place has been recently sold, so the new management may or may not preserve the recipes. Wait and see.
  3. Chipotle is a great food option for the time-strapped student. I usually get rice bowls when I go there for lunch.
  4. Meeting St Cafe has a good “garbage” cookie (meaning white chocolate, oats, coconut, dark chocolate etc. etc.) Most Brown students know this already.
  5. Bagel Gourmet (Bagel Gourmet Ole if you’re up on Thayer) has a good breakfast burrito (4.5/5). Their everything bagels are also good, and if you’re looking for dessert, the cinnamon raisin walnut cream cheese is pretty good.
  6. East Side Pockets – decent chicken and falafel wraps, good baklava.

The Food Trucks

  1. Plouf Plouf – The duck burger, maybe the creme brulee. Avoid anything non-meat.
  2. Lotus Pepper – decent vermicelli (3.75/5) [I still miss Pho-natic on Angell St, which closed in 2011] and banh mi.
  3. The rest are unremarkable. Mama Kim’s standard has dropped precipitously since its 2011(?) opening, and it is the best of the bunch.

Wickenden area

  1. Abyssinia has a great steak tartare dish called kitfo that I like very much (4.5/5). The teff injera is nice to have but not noticeably different in taste from the default serving bread.
  2. The Duck & Bunny has very good crepe-pizzas (“crèpzza”s), as well as very nice Devonshire scones with cream and jam.
  3. Avoid Al Forno. The dirty steak (their signature dish where they cook the steak directly on hot coals) is very ordinary in taste, and overpriced at 42++. The desserts are unremarkable.

Wayland Square

  1. Red Stripe has a good Red Stripe grilled cheese and tomato soup, as well as decent steak frites.
  2. La Laiterie: as above.


  1. Cahill Irish Porter Cheese from Eastside Market – a great brown cheese made with beer.
  2. Humboldt Fog Cypress Grove Chevre. I just discovered this cheese recently at Eastside Market. Coated with edible vegetable ash, it has at least 3 distinct textures, a slightly bitter outside, a gooey middle layer, and a thick mashed-feta-like core.
  3. Seven Stars Olive Bread, East Side Market or Seven Stars Bakery. An inspired decision, to put juicy, briny olives in a crusty loaf.
  4. Fleur du Maquis, Sicilian goat’s cheese, found in Farmstead. I first tasted this in Paris, and I think this is the best of the herb-encrusted goat cheeses. I was thrilled to find it at Farmstead. Seasonal.
  5. Sea Salt and Olive Oil Tortas, from Eastside Market. Decadent snack.
  6. Dorset Cereals: Fruit Nut and Fibre Muesli. Great with Greek yoghurt.

Cookbooks: Among the college student cooking set, I often notice Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen cookbook, or her recipes from her blog. That, and America’s Test Kitchen/ Cook’s Illustrated, offer some of the most practical advice for home cooks.