Amuse-Bouche: Short-Order Reviews for Family Weekend

The Dorrance

Family Weekend is great for a lot of reasons—we get to have chauffeurs while we run errands, play tour guide, rant to someone new about the eyesore that is the SciLi (and, oh yeah, hug our darlingest parents). But perhaps what’s most exciting is the fact that we get a whole weekend of subsidized non-Ratty meals and adventures off the Hill. That can also be scary: When you’re eating Ratty brunch and spicy withs, it can be hard to know where to begin when it’s time to play host. (Shameless self-promotion: The Family Weekend issue of Post-, our sister publication under BDH, has a full spread of restaurant coverage.) Here, though, we’ll focus on some of the fancy-schmancy restaurants that this reviewer likes to frequent for dinner with her own magnanimous parents. Treat yo’self… Or, let your parents treat you. We love ya, Mom and Dad!

The Dorrance: Full disclosure: I’m sad that my parents aren’t coming to Family Weekend, not because I miss them (pish-posh) but because I wish I could drag them here. Bon Appétit is also a fan: It named The Dorrance one of the 50 best new restaurants in America. Chef Ben Sukle previously worked under Chef Jennings at La Laiterie and then did a casual stage at the #1 restaurant in the world. Now he’s set up shop in the first floor of the downtown Union Trust Building, whose 20-foot (rough estimate… it might be 50) floor-to-ceiling windows, ornate ceiling detail, and mezzanine (THEY HAVE A MEZZANINE, just like the SciLi!!!!!!) set the tone for the food. The food! It’s avant-garde and sometimes downright strange (see also, roasted tri-tip with chanterelle mushrooms and strawberries), but it works. So while the restaurant is prohibitively expensive and swanky for us denizens of the Hill, I have a hunch it’d be perfect for an outing with our doting parents.

New Rivers: This self-proclaimed American bistro takes its ingredients seriously: farmers regularly drop by the kitchen with their wares, and Chef Beau Vestal moonlights as a forager to scout out mushrooms. As a result, the food is constantly changing—like, from week to week, perhaps even day to day—to reflect whatever winds up in the kitchen. Still, there’s a reliable sensibility in the menu that means the food can be counted on to strike a balance between comforting/un-frilly and inspired/novel/very-very-special. Lately the menu is featuring a lot of marvelously autumnal hen of the woods mushrooms, so much squash (pumpkin! acorn! delicata! butternut!), and the last of summer’s tomatoes and corn. Go when you’re hungry; you’ll want to order everything. And they also serve lunch!

More restaurants after the jump… Continue Reading

Amuse-Bouche: La Laiterie

Sick of the Ratty? Toying with venturing outside the Thayer Bubble? Amuse-Bouche is a guide to the restaurants near College Hill: what’s worth your money, your time, and your RIPTA navigation skills.

La Laiterie’s reputation precedes it. Much ado surrounds this coveted Wayland Square bistro; with Valentine’s Day approaching and restaurant buzz at a fever pitch, its name is probably popping up more often than usual, and with good reason. It is a jewel box of a restaurant, an ideal setting for the paradigmatic candlelit dinner, and its menu reads with perfect balance between innovative and familiar.

The ambiance sets very high expectations, which are immediately met with oily focaccia and — get ready for it — whipped salted honey butter once you’re seated. An entire section of the menu is devoted to meats and cheeses from Farmstead, the cheese shop located on the other half of the restaurant. Choose a descriptor for the cheese you’re craving and a chatty, informative cheesemonger will put together a board for you. Simple as this is in concept, in execution it is one of La Laiterie’s biggest assets. Another highlight was a slice of grilled bread smeared with blue cheese and topped with a nest of caramelized onions and succulent slices of beef tongue. Close your eyes and pretend it’s ham and you’ll be rewarded with a harmonious little tidbit.   Continue Reading