Sunday, March 20, 2011


WATERMAN GRILLE (Four Richmond Square, Providence  401-521-9229) is in an out-of-the-way location in Richmond Square (which is round, by the way), along the Seekonk River. Part of the Newport Restaurant Group mini-chain (Hemenway's, The Boat House, Castle Hill, etc.), Waterman Grille does not put on airs - it isn't where you head for seriously fine cooking or where you take the wine snob you feel compelled to impress. Competent is the word that comes to mind.

The restaurant is good-looking, the menu pleases, prices are on the low side and the kitchen, mostly, delivers.  Waterman Grille is popular. Justly so.

Sunday through Wednesday nights it offers a three-course prix-fixe dinner at $19.95 -  another reason it's popular. These were last week's choices:

First course: Squash Soup with chive sour cream or Waterman Salad (greens, red onion, English cukes, gorgonzola, crostini) or Szechuan Beef Skewers

Entrée: Waterman Steak (sirloin/cheddar/bacon on scallion mashed potatoes with skinny onion crisps) or Murray's Statler Chicken Breast (white beans/tomato/fennel ragout/escarole) or Cornmeal Crusted Blue Cod (cabbage/roasted eggplant/tomato and red pepper sauce) or Cedar-planked Salmon (root vegetable hash/sauteed spinach)

Dessert: Chocolate Mousse Torte or Crème Brûlée or seasonal Sorbet/Ice Cream

A quick scan of tables indicates that the $19.95 option is well-received. Other menu choices are popular too, among them the Waterman Burger (with cheddar, bacon and fries) and the Lobster Mac & Cheese. The menu offers about ten entrées ranging from those listed above to scallops, short ribs, grilled shrimp, and steak but it also offers paninis, a Farmstead cheese plate, steamed mussels and filling salads. I would call it a friendly menu, friendly to both mixed appetites and small budgets.

On a Sunday night (open every night) we ordered from the special as well as the à la carte menu. Two persons chose the $19.95 dinners, both starting with the salad (excellent). Entrées were a mixed bag, the steak being tastier than the planked salmon, which was dry, redeemed a bit by the spicy spinach. The crispy onions atop the steak were a hit. From the main menu the big success was the cheese burger, pronounced among the top five in the ongoing unofficial Providence burger-tasting. On past visits lobster mac & cheese has been ordered and praised (not by me - if I choose to bury lobster in anything it will be mayo); also short ribs.

Chances are you won't be up for dessert if you order any of the hearty dinners - burger, short ribs, lamb shank, etc.  On a recent night we sampled both the crème brûlée and the chocolate mousse torte, the former being fresh and tasty (for cream, that is) and the latter being moist, light and, unfortunately, tasteless.

Your view, up or down the river, is East Providence, not Manet seascape, but it's still fun to sit overlooking the water in the outer dining room. The barroom, too, which actually does have a taproom look, is inviting.

Reserve ahead.


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