Providence is renowned for its great restaurants, and Restaurant Weeks is the perfect way to discover the city's culinary offerings. The annual event, expanded to two weeks due to popular demand, offers curious diners a chance to enjoy lunch ($12.95) and dinner ($29.95) at participating restaurants. All menus are three courses and usually include a variety of choices, giving diners a good overview of the restaurant's usual fare.
If you've enjoyed Restaurant Weeks in the past, expect even more this year. Participating restaurants are serving up more in terms of quality and quantity. "This year, our restaurants want to make sure diners get more bang for their buck," says organizer Kristen Adamo.
For example, check out Pearl, an unexpectedly polished treasure hidden at 393 Charles Street. Not only will its swank ambiance make you feel like you're really out on the town, but the menu assures you won't leave hungry. Outperforming the event's three-course standard, Pearl is offering a soup or salad, sushi sample, appetizer, main course, and dessert, not to mention a glass of wine or beer.
Really trying to stretch your dollar? Look out for locations that offer 2-for-1 deals. These tend to be more casual places such as Murphy's (100 Fountain St.). Also, don't overlook lunch, when menus can be less than half the price of dinner.
If you're looking for an evening to remember, Gracie’s (194 Washington St.) is the place to make your night in Providence a double feature. In 2005, the already popular restaurant moved downtown, just steps away from Trinity Repertory Company. Let them know if you're planning to take in a show when you make your reservation and they'll make sure to get you out the door in time. Even before the show, Gracie’s will have you seeing stars (literally - stars are a theme in the decor). Chef Joe Hafner makes local ingredients the focus of elegant and lively platings.
Whether it's date night or family night, Rue De L'Espoir (99 Hope St.) is a long-time Providence favorite, having served American bistro fare for over 30 years at its East Side location near Brown University (“Rue De L'Espoir” is a literal French translation of its Hope Street address). Every day, the restaurant magically transforms from casual mornings to elegant evenings, and during Restaurant Week it’s a great choice for both lunch and dinner.
Steak lovers will be happy to hear that Providence's best steakhouses are not only opening their doors for Restaurant Weeks, but also including steak on their dinner menus. These include the nationally renowned chains, and also Providence Prime (279 Atwells Ave.), a great local steakhouse on Federal Hill. Not only do they have two beefy entrees on their three-course menu, but you can you finish off your meal with a s’mores dessert as you enjoy one of their signature espresso martinis, a worthwhile add-on at just $6.
Restaurant Weeks is also an opportunity to discover those neighborhood favorites that Providence residents happily keep as guarded secrets. Couples looking to enjoy a romantic dinner should not miss the intimate and charming ambiance of CAV's Jewelry District loft location (14 Imperial Place), which is filled with sparkling lights and African antiques. They should also head over to Providence's West Side, where they will be astounded by Loie Fuller's (1455 Westminster St.) amazing Art Nouveau murals, carved woodwork, and artfully tiled floor.
The best way to enjoy Restaurant Weeks is to plan ahead. Pick your top choices, check your calendar, and reserve two weeks in advance to ensure you get your preferred reservation. One of the hottest nights this year will be Saturday July 25th, a Waterfire night. (Some restaurants may not be participating on the 25th, so be sure to confirm.) On the other hand, if you crave spontaneity, don't be afraid to try for a last-minute reservation. Especially if you're willing to eat at an earlier or later time, you just might be able to find a seat.
View the list of restaurants and menus at http://www.goprovidence.com/RestaurantWeek.