Downtown Providence has been a notoriously challenging area for restaurateurs. Some establishments flourish for years while others, even supremely promising ones, falter in the blink of an eye. In one especially challenged strip, a narrow corridor of Union Street flanked by office buildings and car rental shops, an ambitious whiskey bar and restaurant called The Rosendale is aiming to change things.
For years The Rosendale’s spot was inhabited by two consecutive, Irish-inflected watering holes, neither of which you’d consider “destination dining.” It drew harried office workers in search of a quick sandwich during the day, and beer-gulping college kids at night, with the Pats or the Sox reliably on a television or three in the background.
Co-owners Garry Williams and Frank Manfredi, who grew up together in North Providence, saw the opportunity to do something different. The game may still be on in the background, but now the aesthetics are spiffed up, and there are craft beers and whiskey flights in lieu of Bud Light pitchers. (Sorry, not sorry, Bud devotees.) There’s also a thoughtful cocktail list, featuring familiar classics that show a bit of the co-owners’ personality. “We don’t aim to be a top-end cocktail bar,” Williams told me, “and we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We wanted something simple, but with our stamp on it.”
Take the drink they shared with us, which is a twist on the classic New York-style whiskey sour. Called “Don’t Rye for Me Argentina,” it’s a jewel-toned showstopper made from just four ingredients and no whizz-bang mixology tricks – just straightforward, thoughtful bartending.
55 Union Street