There’s always a sense of anticipation surrounding an empty storefront on College Hill. Sure, we might long for the days when an incredibly useful convenience store occupied the corner of Thayer and Euclid — take the hint, local entrepreneurs — but coupled with that desolation is hope for the future: someday, some new business is coming in there. Eventually.
Brunonians who frequent the eastern end of campus had become used to this feeling while staring at the façade that once was Iron Wok. Luckily, Yan’s Cuisine, a Chinese restaurant reminiscent of its predecessor, opened up a few weeks ago in the once-abandoned storefront on the corner of Brook and Benevolent. The newcomer offers a surprisingly diverse set of options. You can go for dishes typical of Americanized Chinese fare (General Tso’s chicken, steamed pork dumplings, egg rolls, etc.), or you can be brave and try one of an impressive selection of less popular items, like “House Special Neck Bone” and “Lion’s Head Meat Ball.” (Ed. – We’re taking submissions for artistic renderings of the latter dish).
Are you in search of the weirdest possible dining experience in the greater Providence area? Look no further than Farmstead’s Biggie and Brunch offering on the first Sunday of every month. Farmstead, which usually operates as a popular and trendy cheese shop and restaurant, opens its doors for brunch only once a month. But when it does, it does so in style, with a DJ booth, standing speakers, and absolutely blasted tunes from the one and only Notorious B.I.G.
The menu is split into larger plates listed as “Biggies” and smaller plates listed as, you guessed it, “Smalls.” The dishes themselves don’t seem to be Biggie-themed, though they are certainly a bit unorthodox: the brown sugar waffle comes with fairly sweet ten-spice chicken wings; the only bagels offered are the house pretzel bagels; the “Smalls” offerings include potato latkes served with shortrib. You also have the chance to order one of the several Biggie and Brunch cocktails listed on the cocktail menu under the first four lines of “Juicy.”
Whether you enjoy your Biggie and Brunch adventure is likely a matter of context. The food is probably more appealing to a connoisseuring foodie than to the layman—I found it tasty but perhaps overly experimental at times. And the ambience experiment probably works a lot better for a late morning out with friends or even a really weird hipster first date than it does for an afternoon lunch with your visiting mother. Regardless, the brunch has been a remarkable success, and Farmstead encourages interested patrons to call for April reservations today (seriously) if they hope to get in. If you do secure a spot, you probably won’t forget your Biggie and Brunch any time soon.
Walking into The Grange on a Thursday evening was a warm respite from the biting Providence cold. Candles in mismatched mason jars light the rustic interior of this spacious restaurant tucked away in Federal Hill, the walls are decorated with eclectic art and menu specials, and a full bar is illuminated by blue string lights. A combination of low tables, high-top seating, and a long communal table is scattered throughout the restaurant, and my party and I were led to a cozy spot in a corner booth. The Grange, brought to us by the same owners of popular Providence eateries Garden Grille and Wildflour Vegan Bakery, is dedicated to “elevating diners’ perceptions and experience of vegetables,” according to the restaurant’s website. Though the menu is limited to vegetarian items, I can assure you that a lack of meat does not take away from the variety and complexity of the food offered here.
The Moscow Mule
The dinner menu is broken down into three categories: “Small(ish),” “Medium,” and “Large(r)” plates. The selection ranged from Deviled Eggs and Scallion Pancake Rolls, to a mushroom Po’ Boy and Winter Risotto, all featuring fresh, seasonal produce in innovative combinations with one another. You might categorize the cuisine as “Farm-to-Table” with an Asian influence. The cocktail menu featured classic offerings like the Tom Collins and The Old Fashioned as well as the “Mai Tai Foster,” The Grange’s “House Cocktail of the Moment.” We, however, settled on the restaurant’s “Moscow Mule,” a surprisingly spicy and tangy drink that featured Prairie organic vodka, Grange ginger, and lime.
Yep. You read right. The Duck & Bunny, the famed brunch spot and snuggery, will begin serving its legendary brunch EVERY DAY (Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) in honor of its fourth anniversary. It’s like the Groundhog Day of brunch. The crepes. The cupcakes. The delicious cocktails (for those of you who are 21+). The incredible coffee and tea and finger sandwiches. Great things are happening. LONG LIVE BRUNCH #BLESSED.
Tucked behind a parking lot at 161 Cushing Street hides Flatbread Company, the Providence iteration of a small chain that has franchises throughout New England in places like Martha’s Vineyard, Portland (not that one), and Somerville (and also randomly Hawaii and Whistler). Flatbread Company “has been introducing people to the magic of earth and fire” since 1998. Their clay, sand, hay, and ash ovens attempt to imitate a form of cooking that has been around for millennia. They’ve also committed themselves to serving as much organic and locally-sourced food as possible. The Cushing location opened on December 26, 2013.
For a building hidden from the rush of Thayer by CVS, Flatbread Company has a very open, welcoming feel to it. The two ovens, which workers are constantly feeding flatbreads on giant wooden boards, occupy one side of the restaurant, exposed to customers. At the other end, past an extremely long bar serving various local beers, there’s a library, because Flatbread Company is also trying to become your new secret study space. A friendly, attentive staff only add to the vibe. We got both of our pizzas in under 10 minutes. Your move, Nice Slice.
Nestled on the corner of Benefit and Transit Streets, and adjacent to the already well-established destination, Darwin’s, Benefit Juice Bar & Café joins the College Hill culinary community. On November 17th, the small but cozy cafe opened its doors to serve spins on breakfast and lunchtime classics. The owners consider themselves lucky to be among beautifully restored homes, churches and museums, and only a block away from Providence’s historic waterfront. We consider ourselves lucky to try their fresh made-to-order juices, whole fruit smoothies, fair trade coffee, baked goodies, house-made soups, sandwiches, paninis, and seasonal salads.
But don’t venture to Benefit Juice Bar & Café if you’re
boring content with mundane eats. Benefit Juice Bar & Café’s menu boasts distinctive panini combinations like the “Veggie Bahn Mi” (chunky peanut butter, sriracha, apple, and cilantro), the “Roman Holiday” (soppressata, mortadella, fontina, house pickled onions, and lemon-dressed arugula), and the “Bad Boy” (shaved roast beef, cheddar cheese sauce, and crispy fried onions). Continue Reading