It’s always great to see a dormant space spring to life, especially in an area like the Jewelry District, which is poised for a post-195 bloom – and even more so when it’s one of the city’s tragically few below-the-sidewalk bars and restaurants. (Speaking of which, would someone please do something in the old Custom House Tavern? Please.) The ROI (pronounced “roy”) revives the underground, in both the literal and figurative sense; it has opened in the location that formerly housed the Century Lounge.
Unlike 150 Chestnut Street’s former life as a rock and roll club, its new incarnation bills itself as a modern day supper club. Chef Paul Shire, who made his name on the local dining scene with the original DownCity and Oak, presides over a restaurant that has been completely renovated. The ragtag atmosphere of the old Century Lounge has been replaced with a sleek, modern look, heavy on black and chocolate brown. The long bar has been left intact, but given a new face, and the open area in the center now sports plush, spacious booths and seating for about 80. The stage, too, remains, and has been augmented with a brand new sound system and booth so that The ROI can host more jazz-centric entertainment aimed at a slightly older crowd.
Shire’s menu focuses on eclectic but familiar comfort food, with a premium on local, high quality ingredients. His goal is to offer “something for everyone” and give diners value for their dollar; most entrees and pastas fall in the $15-$18 range, from the Ground Italian Sausage Over Rigatoni to the Herbs de Provence Salmon Filet with mushroom risotto. The ROI will be open for lunch and dinner, and there is also a late night menu featuring appetizers like Shire’s signature Polenta Fries, as well as burgers, pizzas and more.
The bartenders are also getting into the act, infusing liquors like vodkas and brandies for signature cocktails like the West Side Girl, a mix of lavender vodka, Cointreau and fresh lemon.
The Jewelry District was in need of a new option like this, adding to the mix of lunch spots popular with those who work in the area (Rue Bis), date night restaurants (CAV) and late night entertainment (The Spot Underground). Welcome to the neighborhood.
On the other side of the city, the American Locomotive Works space formerly occupied by the Everyman Bistro is reborn as The American (311 Iron Horse Way, off Valley Street), breathing new life into it while keeping the classic Americana vibe that made the Everyman so popular. It’s the third location for the Adirondack Restaurant Group, which also owns The Abbey, a popular sports bar and pub in the Providence College area, and Buster Krab’s a “burger shack and beach bar” in Narragansett.
In keeping with the former manufacturing life of the location, the menu will pay tribute to industry and Gilded Age robber-barons like Morgan, Gould and Vanderbilt. (And, of course, Oysters Rockefeller are on the menu.) Fittingly, it’s heavy on meat-and-potatoes like Yankee Pot Roast and Classic American Meatloaf. The American will be open for lunch and dinner.