May 12, 2010

The Duck & Bunny.

312 Wickenden Street
Providence, RI 02903
401. 270. 3300

The Duck & Bunny is a snuggery. And no, owners Jessica and Daniel didn't make up the word, but they've certainly made their new restaurant live up to its meaning: a cosy and comfortable place. Part bar, part tea shop, the Duck & Bunny is nothing if it isn't cozy and just a little bit fancy, too.

Full disclosure: I visited the snuggery for the first time a few weeks ago, but the end of the semester meant that I didn't have a moment to write about it before now. Busy or no, I wouldn't dream of leaving Providence for the summer without writing about the tastiest small bites of all. I'm talking about cupcakes, and at the Duck & Bunny they're all made in-house by Johnson & Wales pastry chefs. When possible, the chefs integrate local flavorings, like those used in the buttermilk honey glazed cupcake with lavender buttercream frosting that I gobbled a few weeks ago.
Daniel and Jessica source their food through Farm Fresh RI, which provides restaurants with weekly emails and lists of available ingredients from local farms. According to Jessica, the process couldn't be easier. Want local honey? Check out the Farm Fresh list, and if it's there, it's yours. On a chilly spring day like this one, hurry to the Duck & Bunny for a little local treat and hot cuppa.

May 3, 2010

Apsara Palace

Apsara Palace

Apsara Palace
783B Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906

It's hard to walk down Hope Street on the East Side of Providence without getting hungry. Just a few blocks from Not Just Snacks and Ivy Tavern is Apsara Palace, a pan Asian restaurant which serves up Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. As you can imagine, covering cuisine from such a vast area of the world requires a hearty, expansive menu.

After having lived in Thailand and eaten my way through Southeast Asia during a year long fellowship, one of the things I most miss back at home is the food of the region. I crave the juicy mangoes, spicy curries, and peanuty dishes I'd eaten at street side markets. I'm often hard pressed to find a Thai restaurant able to capture those uniquely tangy flavors.

So when I arrived at Apsara Palace on a bustling Saturday night, I didn't have the heart to leaf through the pages and pages of rice and noodle dishes. Bracing myself in advance to be disappointed, I ordered the hard-to-ruin and unimaginative staple of American Southeast Asian cuisine-Pad Thai. In Thailand Pad Thai is often sold by vendors on the street in a giant metal wok that quickly cooks multiple helpings in one batch. Vendors have an array of condiments so you can make the noodles your own-hot sauce, fish sauce, peanuts, and lime help with the customization. While the dish is enjoyed as a snack or a meal by Thais, it is not by any means viewed as the nation's signature dish.

But Apsara Palace's delicious sweet, sour, and salty Pad Thai may just have renewed my faith in American Thai restaurants. Squeezing the lime over my noodles generously covered in chopped peanuts brought back memories of crowded streets abuzz with activity-motorbikes whizzing by, late night street vendors hawking fruit, and friends gossiping over steaming bowls of soup after a long day. I hope on my next visit to Apsara Palace I'll be brave enough to really explore their vast menu.

Pad Thai

April 27, 2010

Ivy Tavern

Ivy Tavern
758 Hope Street
Providence, RI

The Ivy Tavern is the best kind of neighborhood pub - one with great food that is genuinely welcoming to all, locals and non-locals alike. Located on the East Side of Providence in what is colloquially referred to as "Hope Village," the small storefront is easy to pass by, but tables in this small establishment are worth the wait if need be.

Ivy Tavern is known for its hamburgers and garlic fries, but before ordering our pub grub we focused in on the beer list. For a small neighborhood establishment, Ivy Tavern offers a, while limited, impressive selection of brews. My dining partner and I opted for two favorites from the bottled list: Chimay Red (Belgium) and Allagash White (Maine).

Since Ivy Tavern has been recognized as having "the best burger" for multiple years, we decided to try two varieties: the traditional cheeseburger and the "Accidential Purist," an innovative homemade veggie burger. For a minimal additional charge, we were able to upgrade our side (choice of fries, coleslaw, or pasta salad) to the Ivy Tavern's infamous garlic fries. In addition to burgers and sandwiches, Ivy Tavern also offers a tempting assortment of appetizers and entrees.

Both burgers were exceptional. Perfectly cooked and full of flavor. The garlic fries were addictive and numerous enough to take home and enjoy the next day (they reheat well on a pizza stone in the toaster oven).

Our waitress was extremely friendly and happy to tell us the story behind this unassuming neighborhood gem. The owner, Dave, opened the tavern seven years ago after moving to Providence from Block Island. He had run a successful place there and brought his clientele with him to the East Side. Ivy Tavern has developed a reputation as a great neighborhood bar with huge portions, great burgers, and friendly, loyal staff. Ivy Tavern does great business even in bad weather when locals opt for a night out within walking distance.

On your next trip up Hope Street, definitely stop in to Ivy Tavern for good pub grub and an "everybody knows your name" atmosphere.

Chimay & Allagash White Bottles
Chimay Red and Allagash White.
Veggie Burger & Garlic Fries
"Accidental Purist" - a veggie burger with grilled apples, caramelized onions, brie, tomato marmalade, and mesclun - and garlic fries
Burger & Garlic Fries
Cheeseburger with garlic fries
Delicious Burger

April 23, 2010

Truck Farm Recap

truck farm by night....
TruckFarm - 24
TruckFarm - 10
and by day...
Truck Farm
Truck Farm
Welp, they made it! On Monday night, Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney managed to find their way through the back roads of Connecticut and Rhode island for an evening spent at Brown. Huge thanks to everyone who came out. We were thrilled to see so many new and familiar faces in the crowd! Check out our flickr stream for more photos of the event. And in case you're wondering, Curt and Ian made every stop on their tour, with only a few hiccups along the way! I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that's nothing short of a miracle.