Iíve served ciopino at dinner parties. Shrimp curry and fish stew, too. But Iíve never tried to serve any kind of baked, grilled, or roasted fish to more than four people. The thought of trying to cook larger numbers of fish portions at the same time scares me. I canít imagine what it would be like to prepare fish dinners for a whole restaurant full of people.
After being served too many overcooked white fish fillets and dried out sword fish steaks Iíve become very selective when it comes to ordering fish in restaurants. But when one goes to Providence the fish is the thing.
The menu offers five raw and cold appetizers Ė all seafood. Six of the eight main courses also are seafood, including an absolutely fabulous grilled wild French turbot for two. For a first course I had one of the nightly specials, something called The Ugly Bunch. It was a delicious presentation of abalone, geoduck, and uni on a thickened base of crŤme fraiche.
The regular menu of main courses includes risotto with sea urchin and abalone, Tasman Sea trout, Maine lobster, Virginia wild striped bass and New Zealand John Dory in addition to the turbot. If you must, there are non-seafood offerings of duck breast and New York steak.
Then thereís the cheese cart. There was a time when I thought Melisse and Patina had the best cheese carts in town. That was before the Providence cheese cart came to a stop at our table. Iíll cop to being pretty much uneducated in all things cheese. But Iíve never tasted a cheese I donít like. Itís my custom to ask the waiter to assembly a plate for me. When they ask if I prefer soft of hard cheese, I answer ďyes.Ē Sharp or mild? ďYes.Ē The Providence cheese service is not just delicious, itís also generous.
The room is pretty and quiet, with soft colors that make it easy to relax through the multiple courses of fine seafood dinners.