After our meal in Providence’s relatively new Milk Money, in the lower level of an attractive brick building near India Point Park, the restaurant revealed its persona to me: Milk Money is your 20-something friend who is, as they say, on fleek. She photographs like a Madewell catalog, can poach (and Instagram) the perfect egg and she has zero pantry staples but at least a dozen artisanal bitters.
In a restaurant, that kind of casual poise is anything but effortless. It was obvious that every detail was carefully chosen, from the green-tinted mason jars, the waitress “uniform” of chambray and denim, sly cocktail names and the pluck of including a 64-oz bone-in rib eye on the same page as a section casually titled “Veg n’ Such.”
We started with two selections off the Seasonal Cocktails list. I had the A Rosé by Any Other Name ($12), an elegant and bright vodka-based cocktail with lemon, rosé and cherry marmalade. My husband, recovering from a cough, found solace in the Modern Man’s Elixir ($12), a hot toddy made with rye, ginger and honey, with the unexpected addition of pear.
Milk Money’s menu is, like that of many newly-opened restaurants, designed for sharing, with sections like First Bites, Small Plates and Platters. I’m sure this trend will eventually swing out of style, but it’s practical for those of us who like to sample more of the menu. We selected one or two dishes at a time, deliberating our next as we ate.
First, we had the Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs ($7), an order of four egg halves. I liked the addition of a small garnish of crispy fried trout skin on each half. The House-Pickled Vegetables ($15) was like a flipped charcuterie platter with an emphasis on vegetables. The pickled pink radishes, onion, carrots, cucumbers and the less traditional asparagus made vegetables the colorful stars, while the meat and cheese – cured ham, sopressata and paté – took the backseat. The scattering of pistachios was also a nice touch.
We continued with the Charred Octopus ($13). Attractively served in a round ceramic dish, the flavor and texture of the grilled octopus contrasted nicely with bitter frisée and smooth, creamy sunchoke purée. The Arugula Salad ($11) seems to be a mainstay on the menu with slight seasonal variations. This time, it featured ricotta, pistachios and dried blueberries. I enjoyed these dishes with a glass of the Valpolicella Ripasso Solane ($13). Ripasso indicates a second fermentation of Amarone grapes and skins, making for a rich, full-bodied wine with dark fruit flavors.
Though the restaurant is partially below ground level, it is not at all basement-like, benefitting from large windows and warm lighting. A wall of stacked milk crates and a barely-there milk advertisement painted on the exposed brick are attractive and thematically appropriate. It’s deceptively spacious, with a central bar and many smaller tables that can be easily combined to accommodate larger parties.
We had made up our mind to try one of the large platters, and the Buttermilk-Fried Chicken & Biscuits ($32) seemed like a good choice at the end of a long day. With this, my husband ordered the PranQster beer from North Coast ($8), a Belgian-style Golden Ale.
The chicken, one of several large platters, was surely enough for four. Even though our earlier plates were not very large, we barely made it through half. The round biscuits, which tasted like they were made with cornmeal, hid below large pieces of boneless fried chicken. Both were covered with a mushroom gravy with postage stamp-sized pieces of bacon. This is comfort food on a large scale, and the biscuits will satisfy any salt-fiend.
We tried two desserts, a Goat Cheese Frosted Carrot Cake ($10) and Beignets ($10). The beignets were freshly fried and had a bit of spice. The carrot cake was served as two rectangular slices with plenty of frosting. Goat cheese frosting on carrot cake is a great idea; the extra tanginess is a good foil for the sweet cake.
In larger metropolitan areas, I’ve seen plenty of restaurants with similar menus, aesthetics and appeal. Milk Money has nailed these details, and left a mark on the ever changing local dining scene.
566 S Main Street