Monday, April 22, 2013


tea area
Meandering along the coast, a friend and I were ready for lunch when we arrived at Pawtuxet Village, a scenic R.I. spot as historic as Providence itself ( We were looking for a sandwich or salad and walked into The Elephant Room (2170 Broad Street,  401-461-2170) without
reading the menu posted on the door. Elephant Room is a modern tea-room with coffee, wheat-grass shots, wi-fi and bring-your-own-bottle privileges. And no sandwiches, only crepes, sweet or savory. We stayed, but I worried, envisioning soggy, spongy concoctions which are what you get most everywhere. No faith at all. What arrived? Beautiful crepes, folded into squares, filled with fig, proscuitto, and whatever else we ordered, and topped with peppery baby arugula salad tasting of lemon. Sometimes you get lucky ...

Thursday, April 18, 2013



Ciril Hitz has a BFA in Industrial Design from RISD. A Swiss native, he returned to Switzerland after graduation and apprenticed as a pastry chef and chocolatier. Hitz came back to the States in 1997 and joined the Johnson & Wales faculty. He teaches full-time at the International Baking and Pastry Institute and wins accolades for his work with both breads and pastry. And on weekends, Hitz will teach you at his place in nearby Rehobeth, MA. His classes are small (6-8 persons) and they sell out. Upcoming on the schedule (and still with openings) are:
  • Breakfast Basket   April 27   9:00 - 5:00 p.m.
  • ABCs of Breakfast Breads   May 11   9:00 a.m. to noon
  • Pizza Demo/dinner   July 19   6:00 - 8:00 p.m. 
The all-day class is $210 with materials fee and includes lunch. The half-day is $85  and pizza night (a byob event) is $40. Having paid about the same price for a full day of terrine-making at Cordon Bleu in Paris I'd say the price is fair enough - I learned a ton and loved every single minute.

Check out the website for more information: (

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Benjamin and Heidi Sukle will open Birch in the teeny Tini space (downtown at 200 Washington St) sometime this summer. A Johnson & Wales alum, Ben Sukle worked at La Laiterie ( before becoming chef at Dorrance ( where he's worked since its 2011 opening. The plan is to keep the space as is - i.e., dining will be at the u-shaped bar.

This is good news. The Sukles have likely figured out that big spaces like Dorrance are tricky (impossible?) in downtown Providence. Think about it as Downtown A and Downtown B. Downtown A is the old business district where apartment living is minimal. So if you run a restaurant there you may be able to get an early and/or late-night bar business going but finding enough diners from 7:00 to 10:00 is a problem. Getting people to cross the bridges from the East Side or over 95 from the West hasn't been easy. Downtown B, home to the convention center, the Omni hotel and apartments and the apartments surrounding Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is another world (a world with a lot of chain restaurants) and its effect on the real downtown is lousy. So far anyway.

Thinking small, as in the Tini space, may be the safest way to go.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


black trumpet - tero koski-valkama

Evan Mallet is the chef/owner of The Black Trumpet Bistro (, a popular restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He'll be visiting chef, cooking alongside Matthew Varga and staff, at Gracie's (194 Washington Street, Providence    401-272-7811) on Monday, April 15th as part of Gracie's Star Chef Series.

At $125 it's pricey. No personal experience with Gracie's special dinners but I recently did the Smuttynose IPA night at New Rivers ( and it was fabulous start to finish.

To reserve for April 15 call 401-272-7811 or email:


Last year's craft beer event was a hit so now it's the 2nd Annual Newport Craft Beer Festival (, held in two three-hour sessions Saturday, April 27th under a tent at Great Friends Meeting House (the oldest house of worship in Rhode Island and probably not a beer venue), 30 Farewell Street.

Check the site for details but the basic info is: 30 local (or sort-of-local) brewing companies, from the barely commercial to the well-known, will be under the tent.

$45 a session.   Purchase tickets at the website
Session 1: Noon to 3:00 p.m. 
Session 2: 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.   

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Over a year ago I read Gail Ciampa's article in ProJo about chef Eric Bui and his restaurant, Pho Horn's (50 Ann Mary Street, Pawtucket  401-365-6278), just over the Providence line off North Main. Vietnamese and Chinese offerings share the menu; it's the Vietnamese you're after, especially the soup. Share a Vietnamese crepe* (not a crepe at all in the French sense but a light eggy disk filled with sprouts and sliced shrimp) and try any one of the soups featuring different beef parts in a spicy broth filled with rice noodles and hot peppers, bean sprouts and fresh basil. The peppers, sprouts and basil are served on the side so you have a little control over flavor and intensity. Newcomers tend to order the soup with "identifiable" beef; more adventurous folk add tripe, sinew, etc. No need for adventure as the the broth itself, with the entire side plate of veggies tossed in for good measure, could stand alone - would, in fact, be fine with no meat at all (and there is a fish option). Pho Horn's other popular soup is the one ProJo wrote about, Chao Rice Chowder with Pork, chicken stock flavored with pork, scallions, shallots, ginger and cilantro using sushi rice instead of rice noodles. Cilantro and ginger, what's better?

Pho Horn's is in a shopping center (off North Main, near 95) which has lost both anchor stores giving the scene an eerie atmosphere. The entire site is part of a land deal so who knows what will happen. Don't be put off by the location, or the decor, which I call "early pizza". It may be an unseen location but people know it's there. The waiter will likely ask if it's your first visit and then offer guidance.

A note about soup portions: unless you've been on the French fast for a week, order the Small.

* help. Blogspot refusing to allow special characters

Monday, April 1, 2013


Check out who's participating in Newport's next restaurant week at the Discover Newport site ( You'll find Bouchard, Black Pearl and Perro Salado on the long list which includes notable Bristol locations too. Generally, prices are $16 for a three-course lunch and $30 for a three-course dinner but some restaurants tweak the deals so check the details.

Reminder, make your weekend reservations now.

Newport Restaurant Week    April 5 - 14


Raised in Providence and educated at Brown, award-winning chef Jody Adams owns four-star Rialto ( in Cambridge and co-owns Trade (, a more recent venture, in Boston's financial district. Adams has lots of acclaim - she's been on Food & Wine's top ten chefs list and she's won best chef from the James Beard Foundation. She's an advocate for children and the poor through Share our Strength and The Greater Boston Food Bank.

She'll be talking and discussing her new book, "In the Hands of a Chef" at the Brown Faculty Club (1 Magee Street, Providence) on Wednesday, April 3d from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

Call the club right away if you want to attend. It's free.     401-863-3023