Gracie’s (Providence, RI)

When I was growing up (including trips in college in the early 90s), Providence was fairly rough around the edges town, and fine dining in Providence mostly consisted of going to some Italian restaurants up on Federal Hill.

However, over the last 10 years or so, it’s been really pleasant watching Providence rebuild itself as a nice town. And one thing that Providence really has excelled at is the restaurant scene. Providence now sports several incredibly good restaurants, including such gems as Al Forno, Pot Au Feu, and Blue Grotto. And, of course, Gracie’s, which has been on my hit list for several years (when it was first recommended to me, it was located in Federal Hill, and not downtown like it is now).

However, last month my brother was in Boston for work, and we decided to have a quick trip down to Rhode Island to visit my grandfather and finally try out Gracie’s.

Gracie’s is definitely a fine dining establishment, with a very nicely appointed dining room, meticulously maintained linens, an excellent wine list and a very attentive staff. While we were tempted by the five-course tasting menu, we decided to get our own first and second courses instead.

My first course was “James Beard” pan-seared gnocchi with shaved truffles. This was a solidly good appetizer, with perfect texture and sear on the gnocchi, nicely complemented by the truffles. I truly enjoy good gnocchi, and these really delivered.

As for Carol, she got the beet salad. After the wonderful beet salad we had at St John Bread and Wine in London in July, we’ve been trying a lot of other beet salads. Gracie’s beet salad was excellently done as well, and is definitely in the same league as the St John one.

Gracie’s also does amuse bouches, which in our case were a small salad made with compressed watermelon after the first course, and sorbet after the second.

My second course was the “Pork: Three Preparations”, which was three different pork preparations (brined tenderloin, smoked shoulder, and crispy skin), served with grits and compressed watermelon. I was rather impressed with this dish, since all three pork servings were well done. The grits were creamy and nicely salted.

The compressed watermelon didn’t really do it for me, but it didn’t subtract from the experience either.

For dessert we I ended up getting the Chocolate Sampler. Most of this I wasn’t that impressed by (basic pastries and some ice cream), but the Pots de Creme was phenomenal, and won me over on the whole dessert.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with our meal at Gracie’s. The food was excellent, with very good attention paid to both taste and texture. So, if you’re looking for an excellent dinner in Providence, Gracie’s should make your list. This was probably the second-best meal I had this year (after St John Bread and Wine)

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