Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Downtown: "Pot au Feu" - oh non!

POT AU FEU (44 Custom House St, Providence 401-273-8953) has been around since 1972 and believes itself to be the oldest French bistro in America. Fat chance. That website statement should have provided a clue or two. You enter the semi-subterranean restaurant to the overwhelming aura of French kitsch. My unspoken thought was, this place might be fun. Not. The menu is Disneyworld French - crepes du jour, quiche, sole amandine, coquille st jacque, steak frites - and maybe the Disney kitchens should be doing the cooking. We skipped first courses and ordered the following entrees: roast chicken with rosemary and lemon, marinated chicken livers with white wine, madeira and mushrooms, and veal medallions. First came salads and bread. Raspberry and mustard vinaigrettes both arrived in cruets. Way too much vinegar. With all the fabulous bread in the state of Rhode Island, Pot au Feu serves a lousy baguette. Things weren't looking good. Entrees arrived and all hope was lost - the chicken was on the tough side, lacking flavor, and the veal medallions were miserable, like gravied mystery meat from a school cafeteria. Chicken livers with sauteed onions were a step up. At a point where we should have known better, two of us (the third diner being the wise elder) plunged onward and ordered desserts, an inelegant but decent slice of chocolate pecan pie of the American/Thanksgiving variety and a pot de creme which was dense and dull. Tant pis!  www.potaufeuri.com

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