We had planned to go to Tini, a new downtown Providence bar and restaurant serving tiny, tasty dishes, but discovered they are closed Monday nights. So is Al Forno. So is Farmstead. Just as I was starting to think Monday might be the worst night to try to have an elegant and delicious dinner in Providence, I found Chez Pascal open. Better yet, they offered their special “Market Menu Mondays” featuring all dishes created solely from local ingredients purchased at the nearby markets and farms.
We chose all our dishes from the Market Menu. Well, except for escargots. Oddly they were quite sweet which I didn’t notice until Geoff guessed that they had accidentally sugared not salted them. The waiter attributed it to the pernod, but we never did hear the official word on that from the chef. Still, we gladly ate them — once we added a bit of salt they tasted a bit more familiar. Although much breadier than their Paris counterparts, the escargots were just as tender and perfectly paired with some toasted parsley-scented brioche.For an appetizer, I ordered the fresh crisp greens with cortland apples, ginger pecans and sweet honey vinaigrette. Geoff had the hearty escarole and potato soup. For entrees, the Market Menu choices were meat (angus strip steak) or more meat (brined pork chop) so we ordered both. The salty, blackened crust on the steak balanced the tender rare interior, and a sweet sauce complemented the pork chop and braised red cabbage. Both were terrific. We shared the baked cortland apple with rolled oat crumble and lemon verbena ice cream. Overall, Chez Pascal was a pleasant surprise, and I was glad to see the restaurant full and the bar humming. There is restaurant life in Providence on a Monday night, after all. Just make it an early night — the kitchen closes at 9 pm.
960 Hope Street