China Inn's menu is like a gustatory balloon ride over China, exploring different regions and culinary traditions to gain an understanding of the country's myriad subcultures. Cantonese-style dishes, such as sautéed lobster with a garden-fresh medley of snow peas, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts, demonstrate favoritism for veggies, whereas the Sichuan and Hunan entrees re-create those cultures’ characteristic spices and chilies with incendiary sauces. Mu shi, a traditional Mandarin dish, presents diners with pork, shrimp, or beef and vegetables as well as four Chinese pancakes to scoop up and wrap each bite or envelop a love note to a date.
In contrast to the complexly assembled menu of pan-regional specialties, China Inn's dining room embraces a more elegant simplicity. The airy space features a large, central skylight that allows ample sunshine to wash over tables and plates. Chinese pottery adds a distinctive and authentic touch to the decor, whereas leafy plants create a calming, natural ambiance and an ample supply of oxygen to last through the dinner rush.
Tierra Restaurant & Lounge grounds high-flying appetites with a savory menu of Spanish, Italian, and Latin cuisine. Celebrate the recent discovery of seafood by digging into shellfish options such as shrimp swimming laps in extra-virgin olive oil zested with garlic and spices ($7) or a generous pile of pan-fried calamari rings cozily marinating on a mild-and-hot pepper bed ($7). The baked paella bursts from kitchen confines to bedazzle diners with a gentle army of scallops, clams, mussels, and half a lobster, as well as chorizo and chicken, all baked together with Tierra’s moist saffron rice ($19). Tierra's lunch menu addresses midday cravings with afternoon delights including pizza margherita ($10) and caesar salad ($7).
Nature is responsible for stimulating all the senses at Cresta Bar & Ristorante, where diners savor fresh ingredients as they bask in the shade on an outdoor patio. Fresh flourishes such as foraged mushrooms and homemade pasta embellish the entrees, which include panko-encrusted cuts of veal and chicken. More than 60 wines pair with the meals so that guests don’t have to determine complementary flavors by licking a color wheel. Diners can eat either inside or on the terrace, where marble-topped tables reflect the leafy branches that criss-cross overhead, leaving matte wrought-iron bistro chairs to lounge on the flagstone patio.
Starting Friday, October 5 at 6 p.m. and running through Monday, October 8, O Fest RI, spearheaded by Doherty's East Avenue Irish Pub, celebrates autumn with beer, live music, and general merriment. The festival features fall-themed libations from as far away as Germany itself—with Oktoberfest brews from Spaten, Hofbrau, and Paulaner—and those from closer to home from brewers such as Harpoon, Sam Adams, and Shipyard. In addition, the festival will feature a lineup of musical acts, including What Matters and Those Guys.
Doherty's East Avenue Irish Pub, whose whopping 82 taps helped earn it an award for Best Bar and Beer Selection in The Phoenix's Best of Providence 2011, will anchor the celebration from their dark-wood bar. The bar itself serves a host of culinary treats from Prince Edward Island mussels in zesty zuppa sauce to blackened jerk salmon. An outdoor patio plays host to al fresco dining and lassoing the moon to impress dates.
Hose Company No. 6's menu sends plates of Italian, American, and seafood favorites sailing amid the exposed brick walls, brass nozzles, and original fire pole of a 19th-century fire station. Parmigiana sandwiches cuddle chicken, veal, and eggplant ($6.99–$7.49) in their crispy, savory grasp with equal aplomb. Chefs grill 12-ounce rib-eye steaks ($14.99) to order, delicately preparing rare cuts or adding an extra pat on the back to well-done versions, and the Fisherman's Plate ($17.49) drowns hunger pangs in a flotilla of scallops, shrimp, fries, and onion rings. Twenty-four-ounce margaritas ($9) lead an expansive charge of wines and beers ready to accompany dishes on voyages of self-discovery.
Rosinha's Restaurant staffers stay up late into the evening to summon elegant presentations of Portuguese and Cape Verdean seafood dishes and frequently cater special events and weddings. Piscatorial dishes range from less-common options, including stewed octopus and swordfish designed to replicate Captain Ahab's actual sword, to traditional shrimp in curry sauce or stuffed lobster. Meat entrees such as filet mignon and barbecued ribs complete the dinner menu, and lunchtime heralds daytime dishes bearing Portuguese-style meats including omelets and sandwiches, which disappear, like the reliability of sundials, when the sun goes down.
The health-conscious confectioners at Wildflour Vegan Bakery and Juice Bar craft baked goods and beverages using locally sourced organic ingredients and unrefined sweeteners. Silence the incessant chatter of sweet teeth with a chocolate chip scone ($2.25), or infuse taste buds with wheat-free pep through gluten-free banana coconut muffins ($2.25 each). A frosty vegan-ice-cream milkshake($5) cools steaming palates after a long day of heated conversations and emotional fire-eating. A smoothie and juice bar dispenses freshly-squeezed fruit and veggie nectar in sippables such as the verdant avocolada green smoothie, which merges avocado, coconut water, and vanilla ($7). Parched talk-boxes can hungrily drink in a beverage menu chockablock with coffee, tea, and agave-sweetened lavender lemonade ($4 for a small, $5 for a large).