Sunday, March 27, 2011


Now through Sunday, April 3, Newport restaurants (and some in Bristol, Tiverton and Portsmouth) are offering fixed price three-course dinners ($30) and lunches ($16). Check the website,, to see who is participating and get the deal details. Fair warning: reserve now for next weekend at popular spots.

Persimmon (31 State Street, Bristol  401-254-7474) sent the menu to its email list ahead of time so we did reserve and all four diners elected the restaurant week menu. There are three first course choices: a mini cassoulet of white beans, house-cured meats and duck confit; a scallop carpaccio with cucumber, tiny little herbs and fennel; and a small salad of warm white asparagus with itty-bitty arugula (I bought some of this yesterday at the Wintertime Farmers' Market in Pawtucket), radish and pancetta vinaigrette. Before the first courses arrived we were served demitasse cups of a frothy (creamy?) winter vegetable soup, strong on turnip - delicious. We covered the bases on first course orders and all three were good but number one vote went to the scallop.

Main course choices were: blue cod in a chowder of mussels, clams, celery and fennel; braised veal breast with turnip and carrots; and roasted pork leg with red cabbage and apple. We were three for the veal breast and one for the pork. Look at Persimmon's website to get an idea of how the veal breast is prepared - the picture tells all. Veal breast is an inexpensive meat and it's fatty - how it's cut and how it's braised makes all the difference. This is not a diet dish - know that when you order. Veal breast is rarely on menus (not sure why when pork belly is increasingly popular and much fattier) so I was interested. Persimmon served small squares of perfectly braised meat. The pork eater, however, found the slow-roasted leg too chewy and not especially flavorful.

Negative notes here. Bread was offered by the piece and some was stale. A later request for more was forgotten. A bigger (smaller) issue had to do with the vegetables. The veal breast is served with a tiny, very charming carrot on top and ever so tiny dollops of turnip purée. The pork is accompanied by a miniature ball - apple - and a bit of cabbage. The plates are lovely to look at it but they might still be pretty if the vegetables were large enough to identify without a guide. Not huge mounds of turnip purée, just bigger dollops.

Coconut ice on a china soup spoon was the amuse-bouche preceding the orders of chocolate mousse tart with caramel ice cream and yogurt/vanilla panna cotta with tropical fruits and nuts. The panna cotta, sitting in the fruit sauce, was light, a perfect meal ender. Tiny, it was all anyone should want (I, however, wanted more). A richer choice is the chocolate dessert, a Persimmon favorite, mousse between thin bars of puffed rice chocolate.

At $30 per person, not bad at all.

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