New York, New York
November 17, 2005
I missed my 5pm train ride to Providence from New York City. While waiting for the 6pm train, I called De Wolf Tavern to move our 9pm reservations to 9:30. The restaurant closes their kitchen at 10pm, and I was ready to receive a "no" from the maitre d'. To my surprise, she told me that they could still accommodate us at 9:30pm. De Wolf is in Bristol, about 25 miles from Providence, so the boy and I immediately got into his car and drove. I called the maitre d' again to let her know we were running late, and she seemed really polite about it. When we arrived, we were seated toward the back of the second floor, but I immediately requested to be transferred near the front by the fireplace. They happily obliged. This kind of service is rare in New York City, especially if you're tardy. I really appreciated that the staff did not give us any attitude when we finally sat down for our meal. De Wolf is in a stone warehouse, beautifully renovated with booths on the first floor and a more formal dining room on the second floor. The interior looks like a log cabin found in the mountains. Its wooden beams and flooring warm up the entire space, surrounded by bricks. The chef, Sai Viswanath, has worked from New York City to Mumbai and has perfected the craft of American contemporary cuisine with Indian flavors. Our meal was one of the most refreshing we've had in a long time. Almost every dish had an Indian influence--a nice break from the predictable French taste a lot of high-rated restaurants present. With our Glenlivets, Guinness beers, and sparkling wine with orange-spiced rum, we shared three appetizers and a main course. The tuna carpaccio was served with green mango salad in mustard oil and verjus chutney. Verjus, the tarty yet sweet juice of young grapes, was perfect for this. I love to eat unadorned raw fish, but it definitely made the tuna a little bit more exciting.
The tortellini was stuffed with king crab legs. A sauce made of fried curry leaves was drizzled all over them. It tasted deliciously nutty. This is one of the best appetizers I've ever had in my life. The pasta wasn't too heavy, and there was enough crab meat in it to make it savory. The quail legs were served with a pretty boring salad of iceberg lettuce, bacon, and ranch dressing, but the infused tandoori flavor in the roasted quail meat came out perfectly in every bite. The medium-rare ribeye steak completed our meal, with crunchy haricots verts and mashed potatoes. To end the night, we also split the cafe au lait ice cream on top of warm pumpkin bread. Esquire magazine might have prematurely picked The Modern in New York City as its 2005 restaurant of the year, but they've hit the bullseye with De Wolf Tavern. Lucky Providence.
From journal 22 Hours in Providence