26 July 2015
I made my way from New Hampshire to Rhode Island, the trip delayed by a day because I had forgotten that the Newport Folk Festival was in full bloom, and there were few hotel availabilities. So after a day off just north-west of Boston, having some terrible BBQ at a place I won’t name (nor review), I made my way south early this Sunday morning to Rhode Island.
Was a long day, dealing with weather and so forth. I was also quickly visiting a historic cemetery in the centre of town, and that was probably the most dangerous cemetery I’ve ever visited. Came close to stepping on used needles a few times and it’s clear people are shooting up there next to oil drums used for winter heat next to some beautiful Armenian tombstones. This is a scary ass place and neighbourhood (I’d forgotten how nasty parts of Providence is) and I got myself out quickly…
The weather just broke when I got to my hotel. I’ve been lucky to have seen almost no bad weather on this trip, even the Wisconsin leg, but it’s changing now with ominous skies. I chilled out in my hotel and decompressed a bit before the evening, then wandered to dinner at what many say is the best restaurant in Providence, the tiny but interesting Birch.
I got there and it was tiny — just a horseshoe-shaped counter. It was already busy at an early hour and I adjusted myself into the tight space anticipating a good meal. I was still re-living the wonderful dining experience at Stages at One Washington in Dover two nights ago, and hoped for another good one tonight. I enjoyed a cocktail as I looked through the menu and ordered.
It’s a tiny space and thus interesting with a lot of interaction all over the place. A small amuse of a golden cherry tomato presented itself first before we moved into the dishes — and my switch to wine. The first dish arrived soon after, and it looked awesome.
Frankly, simple slices of grass-fed local beef. Excellent, full of flavour, lovely stuff. Simple and excellent, just what I like. I can’t even imagine what places in Milwaukee, like Braise, would have done to this dish… Good stuff. I chilled with more wine when the second dish arrived.
Very seasonal, this corn dish sat in a broth of shellfish, very concentrated. Excellent flavours here, with some preseved shellfish as well. Corn and shellfish are very symbiotic flavours, and this was just excellent. It tasted so much of the season here in Rhode Island. Excellent.
I like this place, even if it’s a bit tight seating. Solid food, excellent and quick service, friendly folks. I happily drank on more and awaited the third and main course, a tasting of local pork.
It came and it looked very delicious. Cooked well, the meat was extremely tender and juicy, as well as rich and full. The charred veggies was good in this meaty dish. Very nice. I can see why people like this place.
I relaxed for a bit, chatting with fellow diners before the last course arrived, a strawberry-based dessert.
Interesting, almost like a compote over some grain-based base… My fellow readers, you know I’m terrible with desserts… But it was tasty, without it being artificially sweet, the natural strawberry was winning here. Nice close.
I had an after-dinner drink as the crowd thinned out. It’s amazing the quality of this dinner at such a low price (under 50 dollars for the 4-course dinner), the kitchen doing the local products very proud here. That corn dish was excellent, and will carry me through a very long day tomorrow on Aquidneck Island.
Excellent, highly recommended — if you can get a spot!
200 Washington Street
Providence, Rhode Island