Five Things: Aspire Seasonal Kitchen, Providence
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
One. What Cheer, a Little Gotham.
Let's begin, as I did (and happily) at the bar. The Westminster Manhattan is my clear choice for starting off an evening. Maker’s Mark and bitters are joined this time by a little Gran Marnier. This slightly sweet rendition still had plenty of bourbon backbone. For something with a bit more bite try the Winston (an alleged favorite of Sir Churchill himself)--Hendricks cucumber and rose petal-infused gin... straight up. Don’t let the roses dissuade you, there is nothing sweet about this tincture.
Two. A Great Start.
I really enjoyed the appetizers at Aspire. One in particular stood out as... well, just plain fun. The duck confit spring roll had masterful flavors without taking itself too seriously. Duck and Nappa cabbage were rolled into a rice wrap for a quick trip through the hot oil. The result, a pleasantly forward duck aroma and taste. My only issue was deciding which dipping sauce I preferred, the tangy and sweet orange-chili or the spicy and focused ginger.
I am noticing a trend lately that I am not too keen on and unfortunately Aspire has my ire on this one. Restaurants ask how you want your pork cooked (I am always medium rare on pork), then deliver it well done. Now I couldn’t say I didn’t enjoy this Pork Porterhouse, as it's called here. It was delicious--encrusted in a Cajun rub and still incredibly juicy. My point is just that they asked… I answered... and it wasn’t delivered. If chef would like to serve it that way, please put it on the menu so as to better inform your guest.
Four. Goat Cheese Risotto.
I promise, everything with the pork was forgiven the moment I set my taste buds on the incomparable goat cheese risotto. The creamy, rich and flavorful side was a perfect execution. Despite being crowned with a pan seared duck breast drizzled with burgundy poached pear and red wine glaze, the real king of cuisine was in the rice.
Five. Arborio Rice Pudding.
After chef demonstrated such a deft touch with the risotto I had to try my favorite childhood dessert, rice pudding. Aspire uses a creamy Arborio rice in its rendition and it really helps to add a wonderful texture to the dish. The pudding was flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, and honey and topped with a tart and sweet warm cherry compote. A perfect end.
Would I go back? Yes. Aspire is really beginning to focus on special events and live music and I know I am looking forward to enjoying a front row seat sometime soon.
Hit “Save” Aspire Seasonal Kitchen at the Hotel Providence. 311 Westminster Street, Providence. 401-521-3333.
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