Restaurant: Chez Pascal
Location: 960 Hope Street, Providence RI 02906
Cuisine: French inspired seasonal
Price: Expensive and worth it
Will I eat there again? Definitely
There are a limited number of top-tier restaurants in Providence, or Rhode Island in general. There are plenty of places were you can spend lots of money, and even more spots that should be amazing- considering the flocks of diners that frequent them. Urbanspoon's ranking system does a decent job, considering how vulnerable to abuse it is. One of the main motivations for creating The Fishy Foodie is to create a list of the top eateries in the state that was fairly objective and that most people could at least appreciate, if not necessarily agree with. Chez Pascal is definitely on that short list, landing a impressive second behind Al Forno, and one point ahead of La Laiterie.
Attention to detail is what brings the dining experience to life at Chez Pascal. Seating is artfully arranged in a space that is fairly small, but the careful use of walls and partial dividers gives the feeling of both space and privacy. With the exception of our waitress, the staff was excellently trained, very polite, and professional. Water glasses were well attended, and the entire staff was attentive to us (which was a good thing, given our waitresses fairly complete disinterest in us). The service of the waitress was our lone criticism of the evening, costing the restaurant 2 points.
The star of the night was the food. We both dined from the bistro menu (3 courses for $30- you pick 1 of 3 apps, 1 of 3 entrees, and 1 of 2 desserts) which is available from Tuesday- Thursday nights. Given that many of the entrees run $25-$30, this really is a excellent opportunity to taste a wide variety of expertly crafted dishes for a reasonable price. We started off with the mixed greens with caramelized pecans, onions and apple, and the roasted mussels. The salad was good- fresh, light and well balanced. The mussels were incredibly tender and juicy. Melt-in-your mouth would be an appropriate descriptor- and while the seasoning on them was a bit mild for my tastes, the flavors combined to a crescendo greater than the sum of the parts.
For our entrees we chose roasted wahoo (one of my favorite and rarely served fish) with beluga beans and potatoes and brined pork tenderloin over endive, roasted turnips and potatoes, and topped with an apple mash. Both dishes were outstanding. The power of the food at Chez Pascal lies in the careful combination of ingredients. You can't just have great ingredients (although that is vital!), you need to be able to own and master them, so you can achieve unique flavor combinations that come alive in your mouth. This is a common theme that all the best restaurants I have eaten at share, and Chez Pascal was no exception.
Before dessert we partook of one of the house specialty cocktails (the Faux Pas) consisting of pear and ginger sorbet, pear liquor and pineapple juice. Served in a martini glass, it was the perfect temperature (almost icy) and married the sweetness of bosc pear and kick of ginger quite satisfactorily.
We finished off our meal with their two bistro dessert offerings: a trio of profiteroles with home-made ice cream and chocolate sauce, and an upside-down baby cake with pecans and bananas. Delicious, although to be honest, at this point in the meal we were in such culinary bliss that we might have no longer been the most attentive and critical judges.
Chez Pascal is a wonderful restaurant. A keen attention to detail results in ambiance, food, drinks, and service that are all excellent. Well done.