Amuse-Bouche: north

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Tucked away in Luongo Square, you might find yourself standing in front of a tiny restaurant with soft lights shining through the window. Inside, you can make out a backlit bar with rows of obscure liquor bottles and, almost without a doubt, a crowd of hungry hopefuls waiting for a table. On the bottom right of the facade, you can vaguely make out a neon sign that reads “north” in blue script writing. Then you will know you’re in the right place.

north (sic), an Asian Fusion restaurant located in East Providence, has food that makes up in flavor twofold what the restaurant lacks in space. It offers dishes that are both irreverent and delicious; seemingly strange, yet expectation-shattering in the best way possible. The chef, James Mark, attributes the restaurant’s success to the collaborative forces that drive the culinary team. Starchefs.com calls Mark not a head chef, but the leader of “a collective, a group of cooks who are making great culinary and community strides in Providence.” The restaurant website features bios of every staff member from head chef to dishwasher; Mark emphasizes that a successful restaurant is only the product of its driven and talented staff members.

Chef James Mark of North – Providence, RI

The menu is small, but it changes daily based on seasonality. A slushie machine swirls behind the bar, filled with a daily alcoholic frozen concoction of the bartender’s choosing. A group of six diners sit at the bar, slurping down raw oysters served on a bed of crushed ice right in front of them. The five-or-so table restaurant is dimly lit and warm; the servers are dressed in ripped denim and clogs, undoubtedly with a facial piercing or two. Make sure you show up dressed casually – and with an appetite.

Due to the nature and size of the dishes, I have found that north is best experienced by going with a group of two or more. The plates vary in size, though most are closer to tapas-sized than full plates. That being said, the dishes also tend to be very rich, so a little often goes a long way. It is best to go with an adventurous group that also favors family-style-dining.

My most recent trip to north was no less exciting than the first meal I had there over a year ago. My two friends and I scoured the menu and, as usual, were able to identify only about half of the ingredients in each dish. (What exactly is quince jam and why do I want to eat it? Hoz-what?) Unfamiliarity aside, we had no issue choosing four dishes to share among us. In fact, the greatest challenge proved to be resisting the temptation to order everything.

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Amuse-Bouche: The Grange

the grange

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 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.

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Gourmet Heaven lives up to its name during soft opening

The wait is over; Gourmet Heaven opened its doors this morning at 9 a.m., and it truly is heavenly.

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While I would love to report that, like the diligent investigative journalist I aim to be, I was the first-ever customer at the brand-new College Hill branch of Gourmet Heaven, I only managed to snag (an admirable) third place. In my defense, the two students in front of me were coming off of an all-nighter, which I would call an unfair advantage.

A quick perusal of the aisles revealed an unapologetic collection of all the best bougie foods you could desire. I’m personally most excited about the coffee grounds selection, which includes highly covetable Sarabeth’s products. (For those of you unfamiliar with Sarabeth’s, it is a NYC restaurant that I once spotted Kelsey Grammer at. To be fair, I did admit it was all too bougie). The snack food options include tried-and-true favorites like Cape Cod Kettle Chips, and endearingly ‘alt’ brands with names like “Baked in Brooklyn” and “The Daily Crave” (with spoof newspaper packaging). Though I wish I could even attempt to fit a list of all of Gourmet Heaven’s offerings in a single post, some proper aisle-oogling will sure to be more efficient and more fun.

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Gourmet Heaven to host soft opening on 4/29

gourmet heaven

It’s here. The day we’ve all been eagerly waiting for. Gourmet Heaven is hosting its soft opening Tomorrow, April 29th! Head over to 205 Meeting St. (right across from Woolley and the V-Dub) at 12 p.m. to receive FREE FOOD from the salad bar and to check out the delicacies this new College Hill gem has to offer. For more information, check out the Facebook event. It’s sure to attract quite the crowd – may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Gourmet Heaven is coming to College Hill!

gourmet heaven

What is Gourmet Heaven you may ask? If any of you have been lucky enough to check out one of its Downtown Providence or New Haven locations, you know what a fantastic addition this eatery is going to be to the Brown community. Gourmet Heaven is an organic, gourmet, and specialty food market – essentially a combination of a deli and Whole Foods. It offers everything from snacks and meals (including breakfast, sandwiches, salads, wraps, and hot/cold buffet tables) to imported and everyday groceries. Though nothing can fully fill the void that Tedeschi left in our hearts, it seems as though Gourmet Heaven will make a most valiant effort. For what it’s worth, Yalies have long given “G-Heav” their endorsement.

According to the website, the 205 Meeting St. location (where Via Via once was) should be expected to open any day now. For all of our sakes, let’s hope that the arrival of the warm weather is a good omen for the hasty arrival of delicious food.

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Chow Down Brown: An Oscar-inspired menu

The event of the year is finally upon us: the Academy Awards are airing tomorrow night, and after so many months of anticipation, we really couldn’t be more excited. Whether you’ve prepared by spending your winter break camped out in the movie theater, making predictions of your own, or fantasizing about your dream Oscar wardrobe, tomorrow evening’s show is sure not to disappoint.

In celebration of my favorite event of the awards season, I have decided to host a screening party of my own, complete with a few homemade movie-inspired dishes. Epicurious.com made the selection process quite easy, creatively compiling nine multi-course menus inspired by this year’s Best Picture nominees. Though Hush Puppies (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Philly Cheese Steaks (Silver Linings Playbook) were incredibly tempting, I also had to consider that a college student’s time and financial budget are pretty limited. It was for this reason I settled on two more simple, yet still delicious, dishes to satisfy my roommates’ insatiable appetites ring in this cinematic celebration. Sure, my meal is lacking a main course, but who isn’t willing to skip straight to dessert anyway?

Tabbouleh (inspired by Zero Dark Thirty)

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You may be familiar with this Middle Eastern side dish, especially since it is a mainstay in the Blue Room sandwich line. This refreshing salad is surprisingly easy to make, with ingredients that are readily available at every super market. Don’t be intimidated by its foreign spelling, let alone pronunciation (ta-boo-lee?, ta-boo-lay? Who knows…) – this one is quick, easy, and can compliment any entrée. Continue Reading