This is a restaurant that I’ve wanted to visit ever since moving to Providence, but never managed to until recently. Situated on the corner of Washington and Empire Streets, it looks out onto both the main branch of the Providence Public Library, Trinity Repertory, and an intersection busy with both foot traffic and car traffic– it seems to be in the perfect spot for dining. Yet, I always either forget to suggest it, or my dining companion of the night doesn’t want to go. It’s like something was keeping me away, until the 4th of July rained havoc on rather typical plans and forced Jewish Friend and I to make some real choices.
Julian’s was closed.
The place where we usually have dinner when we’re hungry and need a meal guaranteed to be good, had inexplicably closed for the 1st and 2nd of July promising to open back up for the 3rd and 4th. So we racked our brains for places within walking distance that sounded good. We unconciously started walking toward Trinity Brewhouse as we brainstormed and finally settled on Broadway Bistro.
It was closed as well.
We continued to walk toward Trinity all the while discussing how we didn’t really feel like Trinity at all, but somehow trying to convince ourselves that a plate of nachos and glass of Rhody Coyote would be enjoyable. Finally, we were standing in front of Trinity and had to admit to ourselves that that was really not what we wanted.
“Let’s see,” I said, “The Local is never good.”
“Never good.” Jewish Friend agreed.
This went on for a while and we eliminated most downcity Providence restaurants before I finally said, “How about that Bravo place right there?”
“Bravo?” Jewish Friend wrinkled her nose, “we could, I guess. It’s ok.”
“Let’s try it,” I pushed, “could be good, and I think they have mac & cheese.”
So we went and upon opening the door, I was really pleased with the vibe there. It’s small, but not cramped with dark wood, low lights, and a wrap-around bar. The outdoor seating is such that you don’t feel like you’re sitting in the middle of the sidewalk with pedestrians tripping over you. The whole place has a laid-back, European feel that I really dig.
“Would you like to sit inside or outside?” the hostess asked.
“Inside.” I said.
“Outside.” Jewish Friend said.
Then we proceeded to have an adorable tiff over where we should sit. These kinds of tiffs are usually thought to be charming or endearing by the male population, but this hostess seemed unamused. Finally, I wore down Jewish Friend and we were seated inside.
Drinks orders were taken after we had had more than enough time with the menu, and then we waited…
Jewish Friend gets very cranky when she is hungry, and started squirming and acting petulant.
“Where is our server/ what is going on here/ why is that bitch ignoring us?”
Finally, after 5 minutes of waiting for the drinks we had already ordered (that we could see sitting on the bar), and an additional 5-7 minutes of waiting for the drinks order to be taken, I went up to the bar where the hostess was dodging our pointed looks by studying some kind of map.
“Excuse me,” I said, “but we’ve been ready to place our orders for some time if you don’t mind.”
“Actually, I’m not your server.” she informed me.
Since she was the only person in the place who had shown the slightest interest in our table, I was a bit surprised by this, but also not surprised because her ignoring of us had been so brazen, she couldn’t have been counting on a tip.
“Do we have a server?” I asked.
“You sure do!” she replied in a faux chipper tone.
I returned to my seat and assured Jewish Friend that she would be fed soon, and that we would order some pommes frites to keep her concious until her entree came out.
Finally, after another five minutes, a young man came out with our drinks orders and a hunk of warm bread with no butter or dipping oil of any kind. He took our orders, and went away.
Jewish Friend went up to the bar and asked another man for butter in what was intended to be a cute and charming manner, but got the impression that he was making fun of her.
“I said that I’d been served bread with no butter and found it strange. I was trying to be lighthearted and cute, but I really don’t think he took it that way.”
We spent the rest of our meal trying to make it up to our server that we had been the slightest bit rude to the bitchy hostess. We gushed about the dipping sauces served with the pommes frites, “Bechemel, eh? It’s delicious”, we praised him excessively when he brought out refills, we complimented his brute strength at being able to carry my gigantic serving of mac & cheese, “You can carry that with one hand, goodness!” etc.
The reason I haven’t mentioned the mac & cheese really at all up until this point, is that is was completely unremarkable except for its size. $11 gets you about a pound and a half of what the menu called “three cheeses topped with breadcrumbs and tomatoes” but what I call “something that is only slightly better than PastaRoni”. It was bland. It was simply so unremarkable that I cannot come up with anything else to say about it.
Once we got our server, the service was adequate, but I only tipped 10%, which I still feel guilty about.
Decor/atmosphere: 9. I really like the look of the place
Service: 2. I’m really being generous here, they get a 2 because no one swore at me, but I’ll take a little swearing if it gets me prompt service.
Food: 4. The pommes frites really were good, but the mac & cheese was bullshit.