Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Review: The Troup House Restaurant

Troup House Restaurant
477 Broadway, Providence, RI

Tom and Rozann Buckner are famous on the Providence restaurant scene for their restaurant L'Epicureo. When we started planning our trip, I knew we had to eat there. Then I found out they had closed L'Epicureo and had just opened the Troup House Restaurant (and that Tom was the one doing the cooking) and there was no question that we'd have to go. We ended up there for dinner and couldn't have been happier.

The restaurant is housed in the Italo-American Club building on Broadway. It's a little off the beaten path and is about a 10 minute walk from Federal Hill. When we visited there was no restaurant sign in front of the building (hopefully that will be remedied soon) but press on and don't fear.

The building is a gorgeous old Victorian. The interior finishings are phenomenal: stained glass, gorgeous carved wood, Arts and Crafts tiles and William Morris wallpaper.

We ate in the upstairs dining room which was bright (at least while the sun was up) and airy. The menu offered a lot of great options, and we followed our server's guidance for most of our selections. Their full menu is on their website, so take a look if you're curious.

Our first courses were a seared scallop salad (special) and a scungilli salad. The scallop salad had thin slices of perfectly seared scallop served over sliced oranges and shaved fennel. The plate was garnished with capers and oil-cured olives. The salad was dressed with olive oil and maybe a little more orange juice. It was well-balanced dish: the crisp-tender scallop, the tanginess of the fruit, the salty olives.

The scungilli was chewy, but not unpleasantly so. It was a simple salad: sliced scungilli was dressed in a very lemony dressing and served on a lettuce leaf.

Our main courses were both specials. We had the marscapone polenta with sausage and white beans and a fried striped bass over corn risotto. Both were fantastic. Their seasoning was perfect, not too salty but the flavors were very bright. The polenta was super creamy from the marscapone and the nuttiness of the cornmeal was a great foil to the sausage and perfectly cooked white beans that were served on top.

The striped bass was cooked just right. It was dredged in a slightly crumbly layer of fine crumbs (Wondra? Cornmeal?) and served over sweet corn risotto with a rosemary cream. The sweetness of the corn highlighted the sweetness of the fish. The rosemary cream was a rich fillip for what was a simple dish.

We shared a ricotta cake for dessert. I hadn't had anything like it before. There was a bottom cake layer, and then a cheesecake-like layer of ricotta on the top. It was a lighter (all relative with dessert isn't it?) finish to the meal.

Dinner for two with two glasses of wine, before tip was $94.50. The only quibbles we had were about the [lack of] signage outside (it did make the start of the evening extra exciting) and the rather steep pricing of the cocktails ($25 pre-tip for a Scotch and a Negroni).

That said, I can't recommend Troup House strongly enough. The setting and service are formal enough for The Troup House to be a great spot for an elegant night on the town, but the vibe is so inviting, you should feel comfortable about coming in for a plate of pasta or a sandwich (at lunch).

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