Five Things: Mill’s Tavern, Providence
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
One. Real Estate.
From the moment you walk into Mill’s Tavern you can’t help but feel relaxed. I’ll just call it upscale tavern cozy. A tranquil room sets the stage for a great meal with quaint acoustic jazz reverberating throughout. Views of the downtown skyline from a new, low angle made my Providence heart go pitter-patter.
Two. Eat Your Beets.
Seldom can I resist a beet dish in the spring. The salt roasted yellow and Chioggia rendition lured me in immediately. This was a wonderfully executed plate that I found to be a great balance between sweet and salty. Roasted pistachios helped to give body to this otherwise light dish, and a whipped goat cheese lent some much-appreciated tanginess to the ensemble.
I was so happy to see frog legs on the menu. In a city of foodies, even the French restaurants usually steer clear of this one. Mill’s jumped right in with its cream-sauced vision of the dish. Oversized legs were set on a super-rich olive oil crouton that was smothered in a peppery sauce. No it doesn’t taste like chicken – isn’t that the point? Order a plate and enjoy exploring its subtle intricacies.
Four. Lamb or Rabbit?
The menu description of a spring rabbit main intrigued me, a braised rabbit lasagna with a cheddar and horseradish béchamel and a whole grain mustard and sorrel puree. Wow! I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. The béchamel had serious character – enough horseradish to wake up the taste buds but not knock them out. The sorrel really rounded out this dish with a lovely herbaceous presence. What lacked in presentation was made up for in bold flavor. The New Zealand rack of lamb should have stolen the show, but I found it, frankly, unremarkable. It was good, but not at the price point. For forty dollars I want to be seriously satisfied, and I just wasn’t. The rack was mainstream but really took a turn after being sat atop a pile of exceedingly over-seasoned mashed potatoes with goat cheese. This entrée stayed squarely in the ballpark.
Five. Skip Dessert.
I thought I would strike gold with the Crème Brulee with rhubarb jam. Unfortunately the crisp top was anything but and the custard was redolent of artificial seasoning. Even a bittersweet chocolate custard dessert couldn’t save the course. It had far too many elements that didn’t complement each other. Apricot gel and cherry sorbet did little to elevate the creamy chocolate focus. Some attention here is the first order of spring cleaning.
Would I go back? Yes. Some ups – some downs – overall I had an enjoyable meal and I am curious what the chefs at Mill’s will roll out next.
Hit ‘Save’: Mill’s Tavern, 101 North Main St, Providence, 272-3331. Mon-Thu, Sun 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. Reservations encouraged.
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