Providence is home to three new restaurants that add to the city’s rich dining menu.
Gift Horse brings a raw bar and seafood specialties to downtown. It’s from a James Beard nominated chef who offers it as a “gift” of the best catches in Rhode Island waters.
There, There is a modern diner with comfort food and a comfortable vibe. It’s on the West Side and is the sister restaurant to a popular food truck.
Seoul Providence is an Asian fusion restaurant by day and a place to dance by night. It’s in Davol Square and from a first-time owner.
Gift Horse opened at 272 Westminster St. as one of the most highly anticipated restaurants of the year. Even Bon Appétit placed it on its list of 12 national restaurants to watch for in 2023.
It does not disappoint, with local shellfish, creative seafood dishes, perfect desserts and refreshing cocktails. Seafood towers and caviar service (with doughboys) are also on the menu.
Ben Sukle’s restaurants have always made a splash, from Birch to Oberlin and even as the opening chef at The Dorrance. He’s been honored with many James Beard nominations, from Rising Star to finalist of Best Chef Northeast.
At Gift Horse, he credits the work of his team for the smooth and delicious opening. They include general manager/partner Bethany Caliaro, beverage director Rachel Stone and executive chef Sky Haneul Kim.
For the first time, Sukle built out a blank canvas and that gave him design control to create a large kitchen that even has an oversized window to the outdoors. It will service his Oberlin, set to move to larger quarters next door in the coming months. He has also recreated the horseshoe bar of Birch, which opens from the kitchen, but he’s added the raw bar display.
Don’t Miss: The Warmed Butter and Smoke Scallop Roll will make you forget about lobster. Start with the Smoked Fish Dip with Preserved Calabrian Peppers. It comes with yummy seaweed crackers. If you love oysters, the list of local choices is impressive. The Sakonnet River choices from Portsmouth, Aquidneck Cups and Portsmouth Salts are especially nice.
Drink: Caliaro has put together the perfect wine list to pair with the menu. Stone’s cocktail selections for summer are fun and have some light choices. The menu includes the signature Gift Horse Martini, a pink Seabird with Caravedo Pisco (a grape distillate), rhubarb, lemon, egg white and orange bitters, which can be made alcohol-free, and the Devil & The Deep Blue Sea, a tiki-style drink with Amaro, sherry and Madeira rather than rum.
Know before you go: Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more. Gift Horse is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. The raw bar opens at 4 p.m.
Owner Brandon Teachout wants you to know his There, There, at 471 West Fountain St., is “different but familiar.”
That seems just right for this new restaurant that is indeed just right.
It doesn’t seem correct to call it a sandwich shop. Yes, it’s a menu of burgers, bratwurst called “dawgs,” chicken and vegetarian sandwiches. But it is elevated by the fact the “dawgs” are housemade sausage, and the beef for his signature burgers is grass-fed.
Teachout’s description of a modern diner fits There, There to a T. He serves comfort food, including fries and grilled cheese sandwiches. He serves lunch starting at noon and the same menu goes into dinner. The prices are affordable, with burgers at $8 for a plain and $12 for a double-patty sandwich. Two grilled cheese sandwiches cost $7 while the “dawgs” are $11 and $13. The fried chicken sandwich, the TT, is $12.50.
“We tried to engineer for a price point accessible to anyone, so they can come in and try,” said Teachout.
Service is in the fast-casual manner. You order at the counter and are called when your food is ready. You can sit at one of the inside communal tables, which face the open kitchen.
Or you can head out to the porch, and what’s nicer than sitting on a porch in summer? Teachout has renovated the space that was Bucktown for several years. He has set up counter seating on the porch, which faces the street. It’s comfortable seating for one or a group.
What about that name, There, There?
“Hospitality is one of our pillars,” said Teachout. “We want it to feel like, ‘There, there, you are here now. We don’t know what’s going on out there, but we are giving you a hug once you are in here.’ “
Teachout, who moved to Rhode Island from New York for Johnson & Wales University, began with his Dips Dips food truck at pop-ups in 2020. The truck is still operating, parked at nearby Moniker Brewery, 432 West Fountain St., from Thursday to Sunday. That means you can get your favorite Dips Dips sandwich, poutine or chili fries to enjoy with a beer.
“And then walk down to There, There, and get more,” Teachout said.
Don’t miss: The Wurst Dog bratwurst is delicious with the addition of kraut slaw, sweet mustard and crispy shallots. The TT Bird chicken sandwich has a buttermilk fried patty dressed with mayo, honeygold sauce and pickled red onion. The Oklahoma can get messy with two beef patties, honey mustard, grilled onions and cheese. But isn’t that how you want your burger?
Go into the restroom to see the very cool wallpaper. Let’s just say it involves UFOs.
Drink: The coffee milk is an elevated drink, beyond the usual. It starts with Wright’s Dairy Farm milk, housemade coffee syrup and some sweetened and condensed milk. It’s shaken, not stirred. Thank beverage director and general manager Sam McCaughey for that, said Teachout.
Still to come is a beer and wine license, whose application is pending.
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Before you go: The hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday noon to 8:30 p.m.; Friday noon to 9 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. It’s easy to order online and pick up. Street parking is easy.
How wonderful to see a restaurant open at 3 Davol St., in the area known as Providence’s Jewelry District.
Seoul Providence occupies a huge space that has been empty for nearly four years after the closing of Point Street Dueling Pianos. Before that, bands played at the Hi-Hat while guests dined. Even before that, didn’t shoppers browsed the racks at Talbots there?
It looks like first-time business owner Joseph Champavannarath has hit on a winning combination, with excellent food by day, and music by night. By serving an all-day menu of Asian fusion, he hopes to tempt not just the businesspeople in the area, but the college students as well.
A first-generation American (his mother came from Laos as a teen), Champavannarath, 31, has been in the restaurant business since he was 15. His first job was at the original Seven Moons in North Kingstown. His career led him to front-of-the-house jobs at Lim’s Fine Thai & Sushi in Providence and Pho Horn’s in Pawtucket. But after promoting dance clubs in Boston, he wanted to bring one to his home state.
“We need dancing lounges here,” he said. Most of the nightlife he sees are hookah bars and those don’t interest him. So he’s brought music, videos and DJs to the old mill space that has exposed brick and plenty of space for dancing.
He’s been open only a few weeks but has seen his evening crowds expand. When the students return to Johnson & Wales, RISD and Brown, he expects great things. He promises some big-name DJs will be spinning soon at Seoul.
He also likes the space because he said it allows him to be a good neighbor. All the businesses around him are closed at night, so his club will not disturb them. He sees his major challenge to be fulfilling the restaurant’s sheer scale. He can seat 100 diners and the space can still look empty.
But it’s the excellent food that deserves the spotlight here. The fusion menu, which is heavy on but not limited to Korean dishes, is approachable and delicious. You can share appetizers ranging from Asian dumplings and spicy wonton chips to Rhode Island Calamari and even truffle fries. There are sashimi and seaweed salads, as well as a crabmeat and avocado option. Seoul Wings come in four flavors of varying heat. Vegetarian options include a tofu stir fry and veggie version.
Coming soon to Providence:These two familiar spots will anchor the city’s planned food pavilion. Think baked goods and beer.
Don’t Miss: The Fried Gyoza features six pork dumplings with a soy garlic sauce. You can order the Crispy Chicken as a main dish for one or an appetizer to be shared. The double-fried Korean boneless chicken pieces are coated with your choice of soy garlic sauce or spicy garlic sauce. If you like noodle dishes, you’ll love the Yaki-Udon with the spicy pork stir-fried with vegetables. Rice lovers will enjoy the Sizzling Stone Bowl Bibimbap with its sautéed vegetables, choice of meat and fried egg on top. Most dishes range from $9-$18.
Drink: The Asian-themed cocktails include Lychee Sangria, Asian Nectar with pear vodka, Passion Mojito and Yuzu Drip with gin. They also have shareable drinks for the table that are $35. Fruit juices, as well as a few beer and wine selections, are also on the menu.
Extras: There is a large function room available for parties. It also retains the industrial look of the space. The ladies’ room has a full-length mirror for primping.
Before you go:
Seoul is open for dining Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The nightlife hours are Friday and Saturday 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Street parking and parking lots are available. There is little parking within the Davol complex.