Providence, Rhode Island is becoming more of a destination city. Its signature attraction is Waterfire, an outdoor event that brings tens of thousands into downtown from April through November. As the name suggests, Waterfire is a celebration of the elements. It features dozens of fireplaces moored in the middle of the Moshassuck and Woonasquatucket rivers near the city center.
New restaurants are opening all the time in Providence. Here are two that specialize in fusion and/or vegetarian cuisine you should know about.
North, Luongo Square, Providence
Located a few blocks from Federal Hill, North qualifies as a true “hole in the wall” restaurant. It does not accept reservations, there is no parking in the area, and there may be a line out the door when you arrive. Not to worry. The wait will be worth it. The owners have this to say about their business: “We are a small neighborhood restaurant located in the West End of Providence RI, a special part of the city that we call home. We cook food and pour drinks that go in a lot of different directions, with combinations that may be untraditional, but hopefully are always delicious. We do everything we can to support our state, our city, and our neighbors.”
North uses local produce and meats exclusively for its menu of fusion offerings. On the night my wife and I went there with friends, I had the “Almost Boneless Chicken.” The chef removes all the bones except one. A single leg bone is preserved. The dark meat is used to make sausage, which is then placed inside the chicken. Then everything goes into the deep fryer. What comes out is some of the most delicious chicken I have ever tasted, complete with one drumstick. It was to die for!
The Grange, Broadway
One block over from Federal Hill at the intersection of Broadway and Dean Street is The Grange, a restaurant that focus on vegan and vegetarian offerings. The interior is delightfully eclectic and the owners make their own smoothies and sodas. Try the grapefruit soda — it’s delicious!
My wife and I ordered two entrees — General Tso’s Tacos and deep fried oyster mushrooms on pretzel bread. Both were supplemented with plenty of fresh vegetables and a dollop of kimshee. Never having tasted kimshee before, I was a little hesitant to try it but the proof of the pudding is in the eating my old Irish grandmother used to say. In this case, both dishes were superbly prepared and delicious.
We supplemented our meal with a bowl of soup made with yellow eyed beans from Maine. It was delightful. We were too full afterwards for desert and had only a light dinner later at home. The prices were reasonable and the entrees quite filling.
A sign on the wall informed us that a grange is defined as the first public building in a new farm community. Like North, the Grange serves only locally sourced food. Both are a delightful alternatives to the menu at traditional restaurant chain locations. Next time you are in Providence, give either one a try for a truly memorable meal.