We first stumbled upon Pot au Feu as we were walking aimlessly around downtown Providence. The menu looked great — a traditional rustic French with some unique twists. As I peered in the window, I could read a posted quote from Julia Child who apparently adored the place. And it’s been there since 1972. These are all things that seem to come together to make a truly stellar restaurant, so I was somewhat surprised to discover it only earned 3 1/2 stars on Yelp. But that didn’t stop us. We in Providence and are here to stay, and as such feel it’s our duty to try things ourselves that intrigue us. What do Yelp users know anyway?
So last night we dined at Pot au Feu. It’s a bit like walking into a cave, and when I say that I also mean a French cave, meaning “wine cellar.” The brick walls lined with bottles of wine and champagne (even a sabered salmanazar) create a festive and cozy atmosphere. It seemed odd that there were only two other tables occupied on a Thursday night — how they can have such a large menu with such a thin crowd?
To make up for that, we decided to order all the courses, as well as a bottle of wine. We started with the escargots — a classic French dish perfect for setting the standard. The snails were perfect in their shells with a buttery garlic and parsley sauce. The bread could have been better, however. It was warmed which was a nice touch, but just not very good (or fresh perhaps).
All entrees come with a salad so that came next, along with their two homemade dressings — a creamy mustard and a raspberry vinaigrette. Our server recommended mixing them together, which we did (he was right). Of course, we had ‘upgraded’ ours to include blue cheese which was sprinkled atop and a welcome addition.
For dinner, Geoff had the boeff bourguignonne — a plate of deliciously tender braised meat with a decadent gratin dauphinoise (potatoes with cheese and cream — a winning combination). I had the sirloin steak which was a thick cut and yet a juicy medium as I had requested. The baked sweet potato and broccoli were fine, although even I can make those. I was more impressed by the sweet winter squash served in its skin.
Dessert came next. I ordered the pot du chocolate, which was topped with delicious fresh unsweetened whip cream. The chocolate had great flavor; although since the cup had been refrigerated, it was a bit colder than it should be. Geoff had the vanilla bean mousse — a delicious spin on an old favorite.
Overall, a wonderful meal. Not cheap at $160, but we did have a lovely four-course meal with wine and steak. It’s clear the chef puts a great deal of effort into his preparations and cares about his customers. After I started eating my steak, the server came over to say the chef wanted to make sure it was cooked to my liking. I said yes, but his real answer came by the fact that I finished every bite.
Pot au Feu
44 Custom House Street
Providence RI 02903