The Dorrance has been getting tremendous praise as of late from all the head honchos in culinary scene. Executive Chef Benjamin Sukle was recently nominated for a James Beard Award for Best New Chef in the New England. His impressive resume includes “Noma” in Copenhagen, considered by many to be one of the best restaurants the world. No, I’m not exaggerating…it has literally been ranked THE BEST in the world! From Denmark to Rhode Island, Chef Sukle’s experience and skill set has helped put Providence on the map, with The Dorrance being named as one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the US (RI’s only appearance in the rankings). With an endless list of accolades, let’s just say that The Dorrance is doing BIG THINGS right now!
At this bank-turned-restaurant, the ornate interior is just as breathtaking as the food. Originally built in 1901, and formerly the Federal Reserve, they have preserved the building’s integrity. From marble columns, stained glass windows, and ceiling squares painted in 24K gold leaf, they just don’t make buildings like this anymore (and it’s a shame). The architecture is marvelous. I found myself continuously looking up in awe at the 30 foot ceilings and admiring all the aesthetic details The Dorrance has to offer.
Also known for their expertly crafted cocktails, our server recommend the “Kentucky Campfire” which was made with Bourbon, Orange, Lemon, Cinnamon, Laphroaig, Jerry Thomas Bitters, and Tonic. The Laphroaig created a smoky aroma reminiscent of a backyard campfire. However, mixed with all the other ingredients, the cocktail was incredibly complex, yet perfectly balanced. Next time I visit The Dorrance, I will definitely be ordering this same drink!
Diners can either order a la carte or select a 6 to 8 course tasting menu. I opted to put Chef Sukle in the driver’s seat and allow him to pick everything for me. In between courses, you are served some tasty “snacks” which actually turns a 6 to 8 course tasting into more like a 10 to 12 courses!
Some tasty “snacks” include:
- Scallops with Radish and Olive Oil (shown in main picture above)
- Cornmeal Hush Puppies with XO Mayo
- Bacon and Cheese Pretzel Buns
- Crab Salad, Daikon, Crunchy Greens, Maple, Date, and Banylus Soda
This colorful salad was like a beautiful garden in a bowl. It was a nice, light start to our meal. Hidden underneath the vegetables and greens were some medium-sized surf clams which were soft and sweet.
Believe it or not, this dish turned out to be our favorite of the night. Best Carrot EVER…and I bet you never heard that before. If all carrots were served this way, more people would eat their vegetables!
Very rarely (if ever) do you see a carrot as the star of a dish, but it even out shined the crab here. This dish was remarkable due to its simplicity. It displayed Chef Sukle’s restraint, allowing the main ingredient to speak for itself. Served in carrot jus and vegetable ash, it had a roasted, smokey flavor full of pure carrot essence. Superb!
This warm oyster salad may have only contained a few ingredients, but they all worked together harmoniously. Once again, I appreciated the raw, straightforward approach rather than over-complicating the dish (as seen with many other chefs nowadays). A handful of FRESH ingredients at the forefront make this a special dish.
This is where our meal kicked into high gear with some intense, bold flavors. An aggressive combination of squid ink, chicory, and smoked dashi created a prominent trio. I loved the art inspired Jackson Pollack style presentation with squid ink splattered across the dish like paint on a canvas.
This juicy sirloin was served medium rare and doused in an oxtail jus. Served alongside a blend of crispy sweetbreads and butter roasted cauliflower, every single component was absolutely PERFECT. Easily one of my favorite steak dishes in recent memory!
We were served a duo of desserts, both completely opposite from one another.
Chocolate “Swiss Roll” – True nostalgia…but even better than I remember it. This decadent Little Debbie inspired treat was like an adult version of a childhood classic. It was made with Dulce de Leche, Hazelnuts, Blood Orange Juice, and Frozen Chocolate Pudding. Good thing they haven’t officially released The Dorrance’s rendition in the market otherwise Little Debbie would be out of business!
Sweet Parsnip Panna Cotta – Very different from our other beloved dessert, this delicate Parsnip Panna Cotta was light and refreshing. It was served with thinly sliced Green Apples, Oats, Sorrel and Celery Granita. It was like a cross between a palate cleanser and dessert. Either way, a perfect ending to a fantastic meal.