We love to revisit classic films and albums. So why not a classic restaurant? Parkside Rotisserie & Bar has been a Providence mainstay since 1994. Glance in the large windows during lunch or dinner, and you’ll see a busy, fast-moving operation. Chef-owner Steven Davenport has kept the high quality and welcoming atmosphere going for years. A new menu launched in January, mixing in some new features with the old favorites.
We snuck in immediately after work on Friday night before a play at Trinity Rep. The happy hour crowd here is serious. Though there were plenty of tables at this early hour, the bar was full with a cheerful crowd who looked like they had just left the office.
Parkside’s cocktail list is classic with a few twists. I had the Cosmo Fleur, a refreshing mix of vodka, elderflower liqueur and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice. My husband had the Blackberry Sidecar, with Courvoisier VSOP cognac, Cointreau and blackberries. We stopped there with the cocktails, but everything on the menu was tempting, even the unconventional Butterscotch Old Fashioned, made with bourbon, butterscotch schnapps, chocolate bitters and cherries.
You’ll find plenty of classic bistro fare on the menu - the appetizers are no exception. The Moules et Frites featured plump mussels from Prince Edward Island with onions, cherry tomatoes and chunky bacon lardons. We enjoyed the mussels, but the broth was even more of a star with its smoky tomato flavor. Though it’s traditional to serve mussels with fries, I wished I had a whole loaf of bread as well for the broth. The small matchstick fries were fun for snacking without ruining our appetite. Our server was kind to bring some smoky aioli for dipping at our request.
For our other appetizer, we went with a Parkside favorite: the Colossal Thai Dumplings. These large dumplings, made of lean pork in wonton wrappers and nicely fried, are a couple of bites larger than your usual dumpling. They were served three to an order with a red cabbage orange slaw and two dipping sauces. One dipping sauce was a spicy mustard, and the other, a sweet orange ginger. Ask a friend about Parkside and you’ll probably hear them rave about these.
Next, we split the Classic Caesar. We offhandedly mentioned we were splitting it, so it was a nice surprise that our server asked the kitchen to put it on two plates. Even split in half, the salad portion was generous.
Parkside’s specialty is rotisserie, with meats including chicken, duck and pork. The descriptions are mouthwatering, so it was difficult to decide which to order on this visit. Though rotisserie chicken is classic, the duck and pork dishes were too alluring. I ordered the Duck à l’Orange, which always conjures visions of the adorable hand-drawn Canard à l’Orange dish in my eighth-grade French textbook. This version was glazed with an orange and Grand Marnier reduction and served with fingerling potatoes and haricots verts (green beans, for those of you without the eighth-grade French). I was looking for a medium to bold red with my duck and the Thomas Goss Shiraz fit the bill.
My husband ordered the White Farms Organic Pork Rack. The tender pork had a Dijon mustard cream sauce and was served with brussels sprouts, pearl onions and bacon lardons. Both of our portions were large, especially the pork. He drank a glass of the Crusher Petit Sirah. We’ve had this wine before, but for some reason it surprised us with a nose similar to one of our preferred scents, Bulgari Black. It’s a cologne with notes of smoky tea, vanilla and wood, scents that are quite at home in a glass of wine.
Intrigued by the list of craft liquors, we shared a glass of Barrell Bourbon. I loved it – too bad it would be difficult to pick up the exact bottle because each batch is very limited. You might want to share this one because it’s bottled at cask strength, which is usually close to 60% compared to the 40% typical of bourbon. I thought it was a great bourbon to sip with dessert. While we passed it back and forth, we shared a Berry Tart with ice cream. It was a rustic, hand-formed tart served with a delicious scoop of vanilla ice cream, an appropriately classic ending at a long-time Providence favorite.