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Providence just keeps improving

It’s not exactly freewheelin’, road-trippin’ weather, but Providence’s invitation to “Take a Bite Out of Winter” with its first Restaurant Week this time of year puts a little spark into the freeze.

It’s not exactly freewheelin’, road-trippin’ weather, but Providence’s invitation to “Take a Bite Out of Winter” with its first Restaurant Week this time of year puts a little spark into the freeze.

With 65 restaurants discounting three-course lun-ches ($12.95) and dinners ($29.95), it’s a perfect opportunity to foodie-hop to places like the charming Gracie’s (194 Washington St., www.graciesprovidence.com), located downtown — or “downcity” as they say in Providence. Gracie’s is fine dining: A meal includes between-course extras like amuse bouches, palette-cleansing sorbet and luscious petit fours. But, despite being set in one of Providence’s many characterful, red-brick, industrial-age buildings, it’s bright, airy and relaxed. A winter menu offers gorgeous russet potato gnocchi made from scratch as well as wild striped bass paired with celeriac and potato mash, turnip and peppery wilted mustard greens.

On the east side, Chez Pascal (960 Hope St., www.chez-pascal.com) is another charmer. Despite that lofty French name and a menu mad for charcuterie (Pascal’s a pork-lovers thrill-ride) and escargot, it’s unpretentious. The amber glow from muted lighting and splashes of cardinal red and marigold create an ambiance as warm as the tenderly melted raclette over roasted potatoes or a golden-roasted sand dab — it’s a fish! — served over a rich mélange of pine nuts, cauliflower and sultanas.

Oh, and you won’t want to miss hauntingly wicked desserts at either place. Three courses? Thirty bucks? Bring it on.

 
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