Providence Social is a new restaurant with an old idea – people sharing food. As one member in a family that needs to try everything on the table, I love this concept. At Providence Social it’s not about serving family-style, where the bring you a large serving that feeds the whole table, it’s about an abundant selection of sample plates.
The Rhode Island Street eatery (corner of Chenango) is located in the beautiful old Victorian that once housed Roseland and most recently Prime 490, down the street from Left Bank. Step in the front entrance, immediately into the smartly decorated bar area, and you’ll notice a completely refurbished interior. The bar is an inviting space with a neighborhood feel, highlighted by new stained glass windows. Through the bar area is a handsome dining room with a banquett along two walls, and majestic booths on another. A small dining area awaits beyond. An exciting addition to the floor plan is a charming garden/patio off the back, complete with tables, conversational lounge areas and portable heaters.
Behind the new venture is the family of Sabres’ legend Rick Martin . Martin’s son-in-law Joshua Hanzlan recently returned to Buffalo after some time managing restaurants in the big apple.
We tried a variety of sample plates, portioned someplace between appetizer and entree:
- French Onion Dumplings – caramelized onions, veal demi, aged provolone and gruyere in fried dumplings pockets ($8). Who could resist?
- “Westside” Pork Belly – citrus and Franks Red Hot glaze with brown sugar caramelized plantains ($10). BRILLIANT! This is a fantastic combination and the sauce is Buffaloesque (dare I say “only better”). They should give you some bread so you don’t have to lick the plate.
- Lamb Sliders- grilled brioche rolls and cucumber sesame salsa ($8). You get three – the brioche rolls, cucumber salsa and lamb (cooked to a nice medium rare) is a fantastic combination. MUST TRY this too if you like lamb.
- Savory Smoked Salmon Bread Pudding – apple wood bacon, chives, stewed vine tomatoes, green peppers, thyme, basil ($10). This a cool idea and I liked it, particularly with the compote. I didn’t get as much of the smoked salmon flavor as I would have expected.
From the entree list we ordered the Fried Catfish – with smoky hominy grits and malt vinegar braised collard greens ($19). The catfish was excellent, crisp on the outside, fresh and tasty on the inside. The collard greens were outstanding, the grits were pretty average.
Menu Items missed: With a long list of small plates there was a lot we to try but couldn’t tackle in one meal (seventeen “sample” plates and six entrees). Just a few of these are:
- Red Neck Egg Rolls – BBQ pulled pork, braised collard greens and red cabbage, sautéed root vegetables with sweet and spicy “dirty” chili sauce ($9).
- Duck Nachos – Duck confit, avocado pico de gallo, lime crème ‘fresh, cilantro and crispy wanton “nacho” chips ($9).
- Roasted Bone Marrow – Tomato-bacon jam and grilled chiabatta crostinis ($12).
- Shroom Stack – Panko crusted flash fried portabella, mescalun greens, roasted peppers, melted provolone and balsamic reduction ($10)
Entrees to check out: Pork Tenderloin – marinated and grilled, balsamic braised red cabbage, and 10-spice BBQ pulled pork and caramelized onion, russet potato bacon hash ($24); Shrimp Stuffed Sole – crab crust, roasted red peppers, fingerling basil pesto hash, bur blanc sauce ($23).
Scene: Moderately young, adventurous, urban yet friendly. Good jazz music in the background.
Service: The service was enthusiastic, attentive and understandably a little green.
Beverages: A full bar offers a wide assortment of cocktails including a list of 10 suggested at $10. I counted ~40 wines on the varied list ranging in price from $26 to $98 (also a Louis Roedere “Cristal” Champagne at $280). This includes a nicely affordable fixed price list of 10 wines at $26 per bottle/$7 a glass. In beer they have three on tap and a good selection 20 something by the bottle/can.
Dessert was a caramelized peach and fig tort. Different for a dessert, this was on the savory side. I really enjoyed it- if you’re looking for sweet try something else.
Final thoughts: Providence Social is a great addition to a neighborhood that is really blossoming. If you’re in the market for a comfortably casual restaurant with a creative yet affordable menu (seems like a no-brainer) then you should get to Providence Social before it gets too crowded. They also have a good looking Sunday Brunch menu (see below).
Seven days a week starting at 4:00 p.m. (plus Sunday Brunch 10:30 – 3:00)
490 Rhode Island St
Buffalo, NY 14213