Several years ago we came across Gracie’s in Providence (http://graciesprovidence.com), a terrific foodie destination if there ever was one. We were staying at one of our favorite haunts, the Historic Jacob Hill Inn in Seekonk (http://www.inn-providence-ri.com) and we were looking for a special place to celebrate our Anniversary, so off to Gracie’s we went. It has been a wonderful love affair ever since – between us, with The Jacob Hill Inn and with Gracie’s!

 (Our table at Gracie’s!)

We recently returned to jointly celebrate a few birthdays and we were greeted with a wonderful table setting, sprinkled with tiny celebratory stars and toasted with a complimentary taste of the Poema Cava and an amuse bouche of puréed butternut squash, white raisins steeped in honey all dusted with candied pecans – a heavenly way to start the night.

Gracie’s offers a traditional prix fixe menu, as well as a series of three-, five- and seven-course tasting menus. The tasting menus can be combined with wine pairings, if desired. We opted for the seven-course tasting menu, with wine pairings, a truly decadent gustatory pleasure.

First off, we enjoyed the 2009 Pacific Rim Riesling from the Columbia Valley paired with an artichoke barigoule accompanied by house made lardo, sugar snap peas and French breakfast radish drizzled with a lemon sabayon. Surprisingly, the pairing worked well, despite artichokes being among the “difficult to pair” foods. The sabayon picked up the citrus in the wine and carried through the dish really well.

Next up we enjoyed the 2010 Jonathan Edwards Estate Grown Cabernet Franc from Connecticut paired with handmade russet potato gnocchi with braised oxtail, foraged mushrooms, celeriac puree, and a three-year old provolone. The gnocchi were delightfully light foils to the rich intense sauce. Pairing-wise, the high acidity of the Cabernet Franc cut the richness of the dish nicely, but the wine was too light-bodied for the complexity of flavors.

For the third course we enjoyed the 2009 Domaine de Fenouille Muscat Beaume de Venise paired with sautéed Hudson Valley foie gras and brioche, hazelnut butter, Muscat grapes and red currant jam. For me, this was the course of the evening! The foie gras was rich and creamy and the pairing with the Muscat BdV was sheer bliss.

Fourth up, we enjoyed the 2010 Bichot Chablis paired with a brown butter seared Chatham cod loin with roasted baby carrot and turnips, puréed parsnip, pickled red pearl onion, black pepper cavatelli, marconi almonds and drizzled with parsley oil. The cod was moist and flaky and the mélange of accompaniments provided a pleasing contrast between the earthy root vegetables and the slightly tangy onion and black pepper. The pairing of the Chablis worked very well, cutting the buttery sauce, leaving the palate refreshed.

A dollop of house made key lime sorbet offered further palate cleansing in preparation for the fifth course, braised pork belly with cider braised mustard greens, hon-shimeji mushrooms, caramelized cipollini onion, crispy onion rings, pork cracklings and smoked red tomato jam paired with the 2009 Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhone. This course was a close second to the foie gras! The richness of the pork belly was balanced perfectly by the vinegary, slightly bitter mustard greens, a la North Carolina BBQ. The earthy mushrooms with the sweetness of the onions lent weight and an uplift to the finish. Pairing-wise, the CDR worked, but the vinegary mustard greens challenged the fresh, fruity palate of the wine somewhat unfavorably.

The sixth course was a cheese plate of three domestic artisanal delights, paired with Ferreira White Port. Leading the way was a Vermont Bijou, a creamy “jewel-like” goat cheese that was served with a drizzle of apple butter. Next on the plate was another Vermont offering from Twig Farm, their raw goat’s milk Tomme, served with more of the smoked red tomato jam. The last cheese was very local; Great Hill Blue from Marion, MA served with another local product, Aquidneck honeycomb and candied pecans. The wine worked very well against the Bijou and the Tomme and as long as you left the honeycomb alone, the Blue worked as well. Unfortunately, the incredible sweetness of the honeycomb, while soothing against the blue cheese, rendered the wine into unpleasant acidity.

The final course, dessert, was a lovely jasmine pound cake, drizzled with honey meringue, coconut-ginger-blood orange soup and black tea ice cream paired with the 2008 Terre Rouge Muscat-à-Petits Grains from the Shenandoah Valley in California. Light and delicate, this final course was the perfect way to finish such a gustatory masterpiece.

To us, a meal is not perfect unless the service matches the food and at Gracie’s, the wait staff is up to the challenge. Lydia and John, our primary servers took supremely wonderful care to make this evening ideal. Their blend of friendly, courteous and attentive service made us feel welcome and at home for the nearly three hour sojourn.

I can guarantee that if you enjoy food and wine – not just eating, but really delving into the tiny details and subtle nuance resulting from the time consuming process that is fine cuisine, you will be smitten by Gracie’s. The key is: opt for one of the tasting menus, with wine and do not rush!

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