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Providence,RI - Lunch and Dinner recommendations for 'chowmeet' between two serious foodies from Toronto and Singapore

I, too, am surprised to see you here, Charles. I've used many of your posts over the years for our trips to Southeast Asia and I thank you for that!

I was born and bred in RI but now live in the Boston area. I go down to RI as often as I can, though I am not up-to-date on the latest in RI as the others here are.

Honestly, I would advise you not to seek out fine dining as you know it in RI. I've not been to Birch (the portions sound too small and precious for us!) but it seems to be the closest thing to fine dining as you'll get in RI.

I really enjoyed north but the place is TINY. You'll have to time your visit correctly if you decide to try it. I had a Burmese salad there last year that took me back to Burma. You'll definitely need a cab or car to get out there.

I think Providence/RI excels more in casual funky eatery-type places (I thank the art school, RISD, for that!). Rhode Islanders definitely do not like pretension. Hearty red sauce italian-American is very big in RI and can be found on Federal Hill, or a place like Mike's, as singaporediner suggests. Angelo's Civita Farnese is one example. Places like Chez Pascal, Julian's, Nick's on Broadway, Thee Red Fez, Harry's Burger Bar, and the Grange are popular, more trendy spots in Providence but I don't think I'd send visitors from Singapore to these places. (I'll link to them anyway.) Olga's is cute for breakfast although I love Nick's for breakfast. A RI institution is the NY System wiener. Del's frozen lemonade, coffee cabinets (a RI-style milkshake), RI-style fried calamari (with hot banana peppers) are also foods that are closely identified with RI.

Providence also has a sizable Guatemalan population but I am not well-versed in the food.

If you have time, I would recommend a drive south to the seashore. Matunuck Oyster Bar is fabulous, but again, very casual. It doesn't look like much from the exterior, but we have had some of the best whole belly fried clams, lobster rolls, and oysters there, all washed down with cold white wine or beer. In the Bristol/Warren area, there is Persimmon (as already mentioned), Quito's, Blount Clam Shack (closed now but will re-open for the summer). Nearby Newport has a lot of restaurants and gets really hectic in the summertime, Bristol and Warren less so. Jamestown (Beavertail Park) is gorgeous and the small Main Street area (Narragansett Avenue) has several simple restaurants. One favorite place is Village Hearth Bakery (open only on weekends).


Apr 12, 2014
digga in Southern New England

March 2014 Openings and Closings

Yeah, I think it's public information that the owner of Bull McCabe's (who formerly worked at Spirit) has already bought the joint....We got this from a reliable source. It's gonna be something like McCabe's Grill or something like that. I can't wait! It used to be one of our favorite spots to catch college football and decent pub grub.

Mar 28, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Local 121, PVD

This is fantastic news! That bar is one of my favorite bars anywhere. I've only eaten on the bar side, in one of the little snugs.

Mar 25, 2014
digga in Southern New England

Pepes Pizza coming to Boston

I've been to the one in Manchester, CT ("Frank Pepe's" - don't get it confused with "Pepe's," also in Manchester as we did one sad Friday evening).

I've never been to the NH shop, but the white clam pie there was pretty damned good. I think it can be replicated, based on my n = 1.

Mar 23, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

PVD/RI * March '14 * Open/Closed/Coming Soon

Oh, I thought I read RhodyRedHen's review on this place. Perhaps they were in "soft opening" mode? In any case, thanks for the update. Can't wait to be in PVD again to try it (along with Birch, Barstow, Ken's Ramen, The Grange, a revisit to north...the list goes on-and-on).

Mar 22, 2014
digga in Southern New England

Providence - Saturday night near Columbus Theater?

Love that you reported back! Thanks from lil' Rhody!

Mar 17, 2014
digga in Southern New England

Sono Sushi again

We discovered on our 3rd, a few weeks ago with friends, to avoid kitchen items. I and one friend went with sashimi, which was fine, while B got an over-priced and forgettable fish prep from the kitchen, and the 4th friend had atrociously-gluey looking veggie noodles. Bad enough that I felt embarrassed. We'll take our own advice and sit at the bar, order hamachi kama and stick with nigiri/sashimi for me, maki for B.

We're still glad it's in the neighborhood.

Mar 12, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Coffee shop on the water

We just had lunch at Gather this sunny afternoon in the seaport area. Food was nothing to write home about (short-rib pizza, tuna tartare - big mistake for ordering it - and a deviled egg) but the space was light-filled and chill and we were in the mood to be near the water. The other, larger side has lots of tables specifically made for working. I think they're cool with people lingering, working, drinking coffee/tea/beer/wine. Not sure if they had any coffeeshop type snacks.

We may return in warmer weather for a drink and small snack since it's off the beaten but easy pre- or post-ICA.

Mar 08, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

ISO a Good Bowl of Chili

Hubby B liked the chili at Five Horses in Davis Sq. If I recall correctly, it's "chunky meat" style, as you are seeking.

Feb 24, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Tiny Chef Challenge

The tiny kitchen counter looking into the kitchen at Redbones is fun and casual but maybe not nice enough for your purposes?

Feb 24, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Fenway for Guys Grabbing Beers

Love "Le Dugoût," not necessarily for food but for cheap pizza and beer, cozy off-the-beaten-track atmosphere, and no-nonsense, friendly service.

Been going there since the early 90s!

Feb 21, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Where do 'hounds go in the snow?

We used to love walking over to PJ Ryan's in the snow when it was our local in Da Ville (and when I lived in Providence, that was the Decatur Lounge on the West Side..RIP). Our new go-to in the snow is Sono Sushi! They were open so we pulled on our boots and walked over. Fun time at the bar with the bartender, sushi chefs, and some customers...much the same as we experienced our first time. Miso black cod, sushi deluxe for me, and a couple of maki rolls for B. We're usually not high-maintenance, but we asked for Olympic hockey and we were accommodated. They were busy with take-out and there were a fair number of tables occupied on this beautifully snowy night.

Feb 15, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Singapore-not a tasting menu dinner

Oh shoot..we stayed at 1929 a couple of years ago and only had breakfast (which were basic but fine and accompanied by good service). There are way too many tempting choices in SNG!

Hopefully we'll be back soon to try out dinner at Ember.

Feb 14, 2014
digga in China & Southeast Asia

Pizza and beer...

We FINALLY made it to Waterfront Cafe this past Sunday, pre-Celts. We loved the ambience (much more warm and cozy than I expected...little touches like the lamps on the bar and tons of woodwork really speak to us).

Sadly, we did not try the pizza since I'd been making pizza at home all week long but had chili (ok - a bit too tomato-y) and a veggie eggplant wrap, which was also ok (I'm not usually a wrap fan...what was I thinking?!).

Feb 13, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Pizza and beer...

This very thing happened to us, not long after RHT opened.

Sorry to hear that you have bad news. :(

Feb 13, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Beat Hotel

We went today for lunch around 3 pm and we were completely underwhelmed. We had just missed brunch and were given dinner menus. It is still overpriced. The swordfish tacos are now $29, which is crazy to me. We split the small hummus (bohemian) platter which was $11 and though tasty, still overpriced, and B had the crispy tuna roll (one cut in half with scant tuna and mostly lettuce at $12), a la Pho Republique in the South End where it tasted better and novel about 15 years ago. Space is interesting (couldn't picture the Tannery at all), but too boho for our tastes. Plus, not to sound like old curmudgeons, we were surrounded by young, stupid kids who speak with an annoying lilt and are just exhausted by life. One guy moved to a different table because I think he was equally annoyed. I doubt we'll be back.

Feb 08, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Sono Sushi in Arlington - anyone been?

We were away for 2 weeks in Asia (Philippines/1 night in Tokyo) to come home to a crazy-busy sushi joint within a 10 min walk of our house. With a liquor license! We had an early dinner last night (still jet lagging). We sat down at the sushi/bar at 6 pm and by the time we left an hour and a half or so later, it was SRO. For apps, the hamachi kama was as good as has been reported, I think first by Roy Ron. They ran out by 7 pm. It reminded us of the grilled fish cheeks/collars that we had over the last 2 weeks. We were told that hirami was fresh, so we shared the sashimi and it was both beautifully presented and pristine. For mains we had maki rolls - keep in mind that B likes his fancy maki rolls, so that's what had. For maki, they were good. We had the Sono, Red Sox (in celebration of Truck Day), Cherry Blossom, and Kiss the Fire. Honestly, maki rolls tend to all taste the same to me, but they were all went down pretty easily. We both really liked the spicy-ish Kiss the Fire and I liked the Sono with its soy wrapping.

Attentive service, though B would NOT get the moneybags apps again as one of the staff recommended. He told me not to even try them 'cos he knew I wouldn't like them.

After too much food, 3 drinks, we got out of there for $100 before tip.

We'll be back again, fer sure, and order a bit less food.

Feb 08, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Saturday Dinner Recommendation

Places that I've happily taken my parents recently (but mostly in the burbs):

-Szechuan's Dumpling (Arlington)
-Legal Harborside
-Matt Murphy's (Brookline)
-Chung Ki Wa (Medford)
-PJ Ryan's (Somerville)

Feb 06, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Why is it so hard to find a good Filipino Resturant?

Funny, we just got back from the Philippines this week and, as a pesctarian who doesn't worry about eating meat here-and-there, I was wondering if I'd be having pork all up in my face the whole time. I was so wrong. I ate more grilled, local fish than I ever dreamed of having. Bangus (grilled and deep-fried milkfish) with garlic rice was my breakfast more times than not. Sinigang has become one of my favorite soups (and I've had soups in every Southeast Asia country). I count mohinga amongst this group of under-appreciated soups.

It's a glorious cuisine, but like Korean food, it will take a while to catch on because I think the ingredients/prep are homey and foreign (unlike Americanized Japanese, Chinese, Thai) that translation to the West is tough. That's just my theory.

I plan on a lot of experimentation in my home kitchen in an attempt to recreate those magical flavors I tasted over the last 2 weeks. I really love the sour flavors of tamarind and adobo that seem so prevalent in Filipino food.

Feb 06, 2014
digga in Food Media & News

Trip report Jan 2014, Philippines

So much for my real-time report...We lost internet for 5 days as we took a Tao Philippines boat trip from Coron to El Nido so I decided to just wait until we were home to finish up. Jet lag is good something!

In Puerto Galera, we stayed at Utopia Resort, sister property to Blue Ribbon Divers. It was quite removed from the town, which suited us just fine. We took only breakfasts here and we were very happy - B had the Hearty Western breakfast both mornings, while I had the wonderfully crisp and mildly vinegar-y bangus (milkfish) garlic rice. Real brewed coffee felt like a treat after many mornings of Nescafe 3-in-1 and so did the beautiful location of Utopia atop the hills. They also do a lovely Happy Hour special - a pile of lumpia and veggie sticks with dip and cocktails, all on the house.

BBQ night at Blue Ribbon our last night was just passable. B gets the pork kebab and all-you-can eat salad/sides bar and we share tanigue and 4 prawns. Nothing special. Garlic rice is rather mushy but has just the right amount of garlic.

TAO Philippines (Coron to El Nido) - This was the centerpiece of our trip and it lived up to our expectations (please contact me off-line if more details are needed). Food-wise, we were blown away every single day. They provided 3 meals a day plus snacks. Some highlights (all fish are served whole and every meal is accompanied by rice): fish in mustard-y curry sauce; always a veggie dish, usually coconut curried and could contain sweet potato, okra, green beans, chayote, carrot, onion; grilled tuna and bonito; mung bean curry; banana blossom fritters; steamed crabs; small head-on prawns with edible shells in a garlicky slightly spicy sauce; pickled daikon; grilled barracuda; eggplant fitters dipped in egg (even as non-egg eater, I ate and loved these); deep-fried bangus; more whole fish served in a sourish sauce and unbelievably crispy (we had whole fish everyday except the last and never got sick of it); roasted whole pig the last night (I didn't partake but everyone raved about it and especially about the cracklings); sticky rice; wonderful porridge served in a coconut after we drank the buko (juice); a potent and delicious chili sauce that we slathered on everything; all washed down with numerous bottles of San Mig. It was all cooked by a 19-year old phenom in a tiny ship galley or grilled on land over an open fire. Even the owner of TAO acknowledged that he is one of their most naturally-gifted cooks.

A post-TAO group dinner at Art Cafe is fine. It's mostly Western and we are already missing the food from the boat. My tomato pesto pasta is actually quite good (really garlicky and the pasta is cooked al dente) but still, I dreamt of whole grilled fish eaten by a fire.

We stayed at Cadlao Resort in El Nido. Breakfasts here were good - I got the tapa (marinated beef strips) and garlic rice both mornings and B stuck with his usual big American breakfasts. He tasted my tapa (and mind you, I'm usually not a meat eater) and loved it - we were both instantly reminded of bulgogi. Good coffee.

Lunch one day was on the beach during our Lagoon Tour of El Nido. Another amazingly good lunch cooked by guys on the beach - whole grilled fish with shallots and garlic, chicken wings, pork, grilled squid, tomato and cuke salad, salted egg salad, rice, plentiful fruit for dessert. One of our best lunches.

Dinner at Alternative Hotel was a nice surprise. We walked up to the stairs to find a beautiful dining room with cool lounging areas where you could eat over-looking the water. This place is a haven for vegetarians as they have a whole page devoted to veggie food. Spicy peanut dip with homemade wheat bread to start, followed by seafood paella for B (over-flowing with prawn, clams, fish, squid), shredded banana heart in slightly spicy curry sauce for me that I loved.

Back in Manila very late due to a change in travel plans (canceled flight because of bad weather). We exhaustedly decided to stay in and dine at the Taproom in the Manila Hotel (which was quite beautiful). A disaster of a plate of gluey fettuccine with crabmeat (actually crab stick), while B had a juicy-looking burger (of course, this being Philippines, it is served with bacon and an egg on top!). At that hour, though, I was just grateful for food.

The last day of our trip was an overnight in Tokyo. We had drinks at the Park Hyatt (we are big fans of Lost in Translation) then after some wandering, a simple ramen-ya is what we craved. We found one in Ueno as we were staying in the general area, closer to Nezu (have no idea what the name is but it's on the parameter of Atre mall in Ueno Kaisei station) clumsily ordered at the machine (a friendly staff member helped us) and got some of the best ramen we've had in a while. We shared the pork ramen and the veggie one. The veggie one was redolent of sesame oil but a tad salty. I fished out the pork for B and happily slurped that bowl up. This was the style of ramen with the noodles served on the side for dipping. The noodles are thicker and quite toothsome. Perfect, especially with cold draft beer.

We took a second small dinner at a simply conveyer belt sushi place. Definitely nothing earth-shattering, but it was fun. The miso clam soup was the picture of umami. 7 plates later, the bill was only $1000 yen (about $10 USD)!

We are already planning our next trip back to the Philippines!

Feb 04, 2014
digga in China & Southeast Asia

Trip report Jan 2014, Philippines

Here's a trip report in real-time (easier to remember details that way). Started by transitting through Manila via Tokyo late (no meals except for a simple hotel breakfast of steamed fish and garlic rice).
Unanticipated overnight stay in Sablayan. A sympathetic local took us to a locals' restaurant. We learned that Sablayan is Philippines' newly anointed Tuna Capitol so naturally we order tuna. Grilled tuna belly with tomato salsa and sizzling tuna that was vaguely Italian, with olives and tomatoes smelled great. Unfortunately, in both preps, the tuna was way over-cooked. But we were hungry so we cleaned our plates.

Pandan Island - Only one place to stay here, at the rustic "resort" (not your typical resort). We took 2 dinner buffets here. First night was a disappointment: a mild but comforting crab and corn chowder; fried fish (meaty white fish but again, over-cooked...perhaps this is the Fillipino style?) and calamari (rubbery); chicken curry (B said this was good); flavorless veggie medley mush of carrots and bean sprouts; Western-style salad; rice. Fortunately, we made liberal use of a couple of wonderfully piquant sauces - a spicy vinegary one with plenty of chili pepper and a fiery-red chili paste. Second night was what I was expecting: our first taste of sinigang (deliciously tangy seafood soup with sliced radish and tomato); whole fish simply grilled in banana leaf (again, cooked just a bit too long for our taste, but quite good anyway); beef stew with green peppers that B really enjoyed; a very good pumpkin curry. Cook must have been not working the previous night or just had an off-day!

Puerto Galera - We're here to dive/snorkel, not to hang out in Sabang, which is quite icky. We ate at Tamarind last night since we took out too many pesos. My steamed fish came with a delicious coconut cream sauce. B had the spare ribs, which looked big, but they weren't very meaty. But he said they were delicious. He chose the Texas fries option (they turned out to be steak fries). Overall, pricey and just ok, but the location is nice and away from the Sabang "action."

To be continued....

Jan 23, 2014
digga in China & Southeast Asia

Szechuan's Dumpling Is Amazing, Lucky Arlington

It had been a while so we went tonight with my parents (we all love that it's within 5 min walking distance!). Everyone enjoyed the fun of eating the soup pork dumplings (I did not try). The fish filets in Szechuan chili sauce was, as always, awesome and a HUGE portion. Shredded beef with tofu and black bean sauce was just the right amount of sour and oh so much like the best kind of comfort food. Came atop a sterno, so it was bubbling hot. Salt-and-pepper calamari rounded out our very large order - it was not what we were expecting (not deep-fried crispy, like the salt-and-pepper shrimp we've had there in the past), but we all loved it. Large, tender squid pieces in a tough-to-describe sauce with some type of scallion/allium scattered all over. Everything except the dumplings (which were all eaten) provided ample leftovers to spoon over rice for my happy camper parents. Just the right amount of spice, although we could have used a bit more. Great service, too. Mom and dad were already asking us to take them there again. We concur.

Jan 17, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Sono Sushi in Arlington - anyone been?

From the bike path on my ride home tonight, I definitely saw a lit-up "open" sign.

We're out of town for 2 weeks, so we may not get a chance to try it...maybe tomorrow night but it's doubtful.

If it's even a smidge decent, we'll be happy campers! At least the bar looked inviting (warning - there's a biggish TV at the bar which caught our eyes from outside, but it may not be someone else's cuppa...we love a game with our food).

Jan 16, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Sono Sushi in Arlington - anyone been?

Got reminded just now about Sono via another thread about sushi in Lexington. I just called Sono - a very tired-sounding guy answered and said they are going to open tomorrow, but not with much vigor. He did not exactly instill confidence in me that they will open tomorrow. So, the Sono watch continues...

Jan 15, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Pyschology experiment..

Myers and Chang?
Anchovies would be fun and laid-back, as would JJ Foley's.

What's the redux Delux like (new owner, or am I wrong)?

Jan 15, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Need sushi takeout tonight in Lexington (close to Wilson Farm)

The Japanese fare at Asai is horrendous. Gen was just ok (albeit, N = 1 and that was a big party platter on NYE). Asai was also N = 1 but co-workers have confirmed my experience. B and I definitely want to try Gen again.

Jan 15, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area

Road Food - Merrit Pkwy to 95 New Haven to Boston

Late Dec 2013, we stopped at Frank Pepe's in Manchester CT on a Sunday afternoon returning from NYC and liked the clam pizza (our first time at any Pepe's).

Funny thing is, we first stopped at "Pepe's," also in Manchester but in a different part of town on our way to NYC, on Friday night. My food navigating friend (ie, hubby B, but I'm not blaming anyone), said "let's go to Pepe's for dinner!" I said "sure!" It looked suspect from the outside, and I mentioned this. Sure enough, after we ordered our white clam pizza, we found out from a loud, drunk woman drinking Bud Light out of a football-shaped glass (not that there's anything wrong with that) that we were not in THE Pepe's, but a (sad) facsimile. She loves the place and food. We did not.

Jan 14, 2014
digga in Southern New England

Christmas Holidays in Manila

I miss Sam. :(

On a happier note, we'll be in Philippines for Lunar New Year. Are there special dishes we should look out for (we'll be in El Nido but I assume there are some universal dishes that Filipinos dig into during New Years)?

Just a note - I don't eat meat (hubby does) but I do eat seafood.

Jan 14, 2014
digga in China & Southeast Asia

Trip report!!

The name rings a bell but I had to peek at some reports about Fuunji. Sounds like a great alternative to Rokurinsha.

Honestly, with such limited time in Tokyo, I bet almost any ramen-ya will make us happy (with hopefully no wait). The best bowl we've had so far in Tokyo was at a well-lit, non-descript, hole-in-the-wall, run by a gruff but not mean man and his underlings. Near midnight, almost straight from Narita, this was pure awesome.

Jan 13, 2014
digga in Japan

Chicago Beef Sandwiches and Giardiniera in Boston?

Cheese on an Italian Beef? As a veggie/seafood head, I'm not the authority, but I lived within spitting distance of Al's #1 on Taylor for 3 years and I can't remember seeing cheese as an option or, if it was, no one ordering it.

Back then (mid-late 90's) you may have seen me leaning on the counter at Al's, sleeves rolled up, noshing a big ol' wet Italian Beef.

Never seen anything like that in these parts, GBA or PVD. I'd take that over a once-a-year burger any day.

Jan 13, 2014
digga in Greater Boston Area