91 Best...a new red slim jim of a restaurant guide for revived and rejuvenated Providence, Rhode Island, is the product of Deborah Moxham, author of The Grapevine Guide to Rhode Island's Best Restaurants, and John Schenck, a marketing veteran of assorted New York-based media entities and newly transplanted fan of Providence. The book appears more weighted towards describing ambiance than food specialties, it seems to me, but nonetheless its brisk and breezy style and the opinions of its authors--a nifty backpage section spotlights Pet Peeves, including two of mine---mammoth portions and unprofessional service--give the book value.
The top of the top 10 picks of each author, also listed at the rear, do not match up--Moxham likes Bravo Brasserie in first place, known for their bistro-style food and easy-going specials such as filet au poivre and coq au vin, while Schenck chooses Al Forno, noted for "brilliantly and aggressively flavorful" pastas and grilled items. ( What does that mean exactly, in an Italian restaurant setting ?)
As the type of diner who wants to eat out what I rarely consider making at home, my pick of all 91 would be the authors' shared favorite in the number 2 spot, CAV. Named after the combo of Coffee, Antiques and Victuals, CAV offers a "pistachio crusted crabcake with sriracha aioli and lotus root" as a typical appetizer.
Yes! Not on the old home menu at my place. Diners sit comfortably on Biedermeier chairs and apply themselves to dishes served on kilim-carpeted tables topped with glass. Hearkening back to its origins as a coffee house, CAV has a cozy feel, apparently, and everything the eye touches on is for sale.
Buy 91 Best, $15.95, here.