PROVIDENCE, RI – Stunning starters, elegant entrees and rich desserts served in an even richer setting. Located inside a building that once served as the Federal Reserve Bank, The Dorrance in Providence is a grand space with dramatic high ceilings, expensive marble floors and ornate stained glass windows.
The luxurious two-tiered dining room is so impressive at first sight, that it normally stops first timers in their tracks.
“People walk in and it’s so funny, because they never even see the host or the hostess, because they are immediately looking at the ceiling and going, ‘Oh my god’,” described co-owner Jean Lester. “All the marble is original: the ceilings, the marble floors.”
“It’s got this air of old world charm, yet very approachable and warm and romantic inside,” said co-owner Regina Curran-Lester.
The two women have taken this highbrow building and added a casual, come-as-you-are restaurant where everyone is welcome.
“A lot of times, at first they’re like ‘I’m not dressed’ and we always say ‘oh my god, yes you are’. Our bartenders wear jeans. You can come in here with shorts and flip flops in the summertime if you want to,” said Lester. “There is no dress code. We want everyone to be comfortable.”
“Some people are dressed up and some people are hipsters and some people are executives and just a romantic couple out for dinner. So we encourage everything,” Curran-Lester added.
Whether you’re out for a night on the town or just looking for a simple snack, Executive Chef Nathan Parsons and his team have you covered. So Phantom tasted it all to find the PERFECT MEAL.
The big wooden bar at The Dorrance greets you as you enter, and if you decide to belly-up to it, you can find a menu loaded up with casual fare like the Bistro Burger Topped with housemade slaw and hand cut French fries on the side. The Pork Belly Sandwich is stuffed with thick cut bacon, jalapeno jam and beer mustard – all on chewy pretzel bread. But it’s the 4 piece order of Duck Nuggets that are a Dorrance original and a must order.
“Duck confit is really succulent; it’s really rich and it’s all of that packed inside of a fried nugget,” described Chef Parsons. “We bread them and deep fry them. We also serve them with a spicy sweet and sour sauce.”
If you decide to enjoy the elegance of the dining room, the menu offers upscale appetizers like carefully selected cheeses and housemade Charcuterie served with crostini. The Spring Meadow Salad is a collection of seasonal greens topped with a zingy Meyer Lemon Citronette. But Phantom preferred the Spring Peas topped with a delicate pickled lemon and crispy ricotta dumplings.
“Very simple preparation to it, but absolutely phenomenal flavor,” said Curran-Lester.
When it comes to entrees, The Dorrance offers exquisite dishes like Chicken Three Ways featuring a juicy seared breast, a tender confit thigh and a slow poached egg with a potato roastie. Pan Roasted Duck Breast comes alongside a currant agro dolce with polenta on the side.
“It’s served with what looks like a grilled cheese sandwich, but it’s made with polenta,” revealed Curran. “It’s got cheese in it and some of the actual duck rillettes inside. It’s delicious.”
The Pork Chop is what Phantom really likes to pig out on. This massive cut of meat is brined for hours in whey to make it super juicy and always flavorful.
“The pork chop is probably one of the biggest sellers. It’s like a caveman cut,” Curran-Lester said. “Women especially are like, ‘I’m never going to be able to eat that,’ and everyone eats it. It’s hysterical.”
“It’s big. It’s thick and big. In fact I love to deliver food to the guests, and I love when I put it down because everyone is like ‘OH MY GOD’,” added Curran.
For dessert, the Dorrance offers many choices, but few compare to the Chocolate Pot De Creme. Served in a mason jar, this indulgent treat is spiked with peanut butter crumble and served alongside Chantilly cream and bruleed marshmallows.
“It’s in a tiny little preserve jar, so you can really dip in and pull out all those flavors together. It’s like heaven,” Curran-Lester said.
Duck Nuggets, Spring Peas, The Pork Chop and a Chocolate Pot de Creme. That’s the Phantom’s PERFECT MEAL at The Dorrance.
You can find The Dorrance at 60 Dorrance Street in downtown Providence, and online at thedorrance.com.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.
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