Monday, July 27, 2015

The Dorrance

Within a restored bank building in downtown Providence, is a fine dining spot that boasts some of the best craft cocktails in the area. The Dorrance is named after the street upon which it stands, and features vaulted ceilings and large windows which provide an open and airy vibe throughout the vast, elegant space. Private events, such as wedding receptions, are held here on Sundays and Mondays when the restaurant is otherwise closed.

A gorgeous bar stretches across the center of the cavernous dining room, with a lounge area adjacent to it. Towards the back of one of the dining spaces is an old bank vault which is dressed as a sitting room, although on a previous visit during the wintertime it was used as the coat check room. It's actually quite fascinating checking out the giant and complex doors to the former vault.

The vault/sitting room/coat check

Inside the "vault"

Vault gears with a reflection of one of the picture windows

My two favorite things about The Dorrance include the incredible ambiance and the outstanding craft cocktails. These drinks change seasonally, and are not your average mixed drinks. There's probably a dozen different bitters used throughout the varied cocktails at any one time, and each recipe is beautifully crafted and executed.

I've visited The Dorrance thrice, once for cocktails at the bar, once for Restaurant Week this past winter, and once for Restaurant Week earlier this month. I love that The Dorrance includes their regular menu items as RW options. There's nothing worse than when a restaurant creates a completely unique menu for RW which showcases much cheaper and inferior dishes to what they normally create. A few new dishes are fine, but I like to see and taste a true example of what the restaurant offers.

I've had my share of cocktails at The Dorrance over the past visits, usually drinking a couple myself, and even tasting others my dining companions order, and I can honestly say they have all been fantastic. My photographs from my previous visits are dark and grainy cell phone pictures, so I won't be sharing those. Today, I'll only share the photos from my most recent meal.

Let's begin with cocktails. It's the best way to start! On our most recent trip to The Dorrance, my sister elected the Blackberry Beret, featuring Pisco, Lime, Jalapeno Kumquat Syrup, Blackberries, and Angostura. We loved the slight warmth from the jalapeno kumquat syrup that reminds me of the affect ginger has on one's throat.

Blackberry Beret $10

My first cocktail choice was Send a Boat, containing Don Q Rum, Aperol, Cherry Herring, Lime, Rhubarb, Tiki and Angostura Bitters. It tastes like liquid alcoholic cherry candy... in a good way! This is my favorite drink of the night, and my sister loved it so much she ordered it as her followup after she finished her Blackberry Beret.

Send a Boat $10

My second drink of the event was the Bello Desmadre (Beautiful Disaster), containing Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Amiaro Montenegro, Blueberry Syrup, Lime, Allspice Dram, and Angostura. If you're not familiar with Mezcal, it's basically a smoky tequila. This cocktail is an absolutely stunning color and almost tastes like a barbecue cocktail. The smoky flavor and the sweetness of the drink itself reminds me of a sweet barbecue sauce. It's a little odd if you're not used to it, but honestly, I did really enjoy this drink, just not as much as Send a Boat.

Bello Desmadre (Beautiful Disaster) $12

For my appetizer both last winter and this summer, I ordered the same dish. I absolutely fell in love with the Mussels Normandy (featuring Apples, Forest Mushrooms, House Made Bacon, Brandy, Shallots, and Cream) last winter, and couldn't resist getting it again. I'm not gonna lie. I was a little let down. I remember absolutely swooning over the flavors the first time I tried it, but on a repeat visit it didn't taste the same. The flavors were a bit more muted, and a couple of my mussels contained some grit. The dish was subpar compared to the original I had tried. Not sure if it was an off night, the mussels were decent, but after loving it previously it just felt like a bit of a letdown. I have a feeling that my second, so-so experience is the exception to the rule.

Mussels Normandy

My sister had the Curried Cauliflower dish. It contains Crispy Cauliflower Florets, Toasted Cashews, Tamarind Yogurt, Chili Threads, Pickled Radish, Lime Jam, and Mint. I had a small taste and thought it was well done. I like the curry flavor a lot, and yet find it balanced and not overdone.

Curried Cauliflower $10

The Roasted Chicken entree features Murray's Chicken Breast, Pea Tendrils, Marble Potatoes, Petite Carrots, and Preserved Lemon Jus. This was my sister's pick and she really liked it. I took a bite and thought it screamed comfort. It's really beautiful and rustic too. We'd happily recommend it.

Roasted Chicken $26

My entree was the New York Sirloin with Celery Root Puree, Local Cauliflower, Cippolini Onions, Porcini Dust, French Breakfast Radish. I ordered medium-rare, but found it to be more on the medium side (I do find that when steak is pre-sliced it can dry out/appear or taste overcooked, so that could be the culprit). The celery root puree was one of my favorite components. It was silky smooth, a great contrast to the crisp texture of the onions and cauliflower. I liked this dish overall, though I wish the meat was a bit bloodier.

New York Sirloin $29

Dessert at The Dorrance is also quite lovely. The Tropical Panna Cotta is incredibly refreshing, with mango, coconut, and pineapple flavors galore. Two thumbs up for this fruity dessert option that takes my mind and tastebuds to a tropical island.

Tropical Panna Cotta $9

I also love the Give Me S'more!, which is a play on s'mores, featuring Flourless Chocolate Cake, Toasted Marshmallow, Graham Cracker Crumble, and Cinnamon Creme Anglaise. The cinnamon flavor really packs a punch, both from the sauce and the actual graham cracker crumble. It's a great foil to the intense chocolate. A really nice decadent dessert option.

Give Me S'more! $9

All in all, I've had three memorable visits to The Dorrance thus far. I can't say enough about the beautiful space and the stellar cocktails. The food is great overall, but there are a few dishes that fall a little flat for me in terms of execution, at least on my most recent visit. Previously, I had loved all the dishes I tried (a wonderful short rib dish in the middle of winter was perfection), so I still think the problem was just a slightly off-night, and even that's very slightly, as the majority of the food was excellent.

P.S. I saw a girl eating a ridiculously awesome looking burger at the bar, and upon research I see it on the Bar and Lounge menu entitled Po' Burger and Fries. Apparently it's topped with fried oysters, among other things. I'm pretty sure this burger and I are about to become best friends. I'll update this review at some point once I get a chance to try it out :) Stay tuned!

The Dorrance
60 Dorrance St
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 521-6000


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