Though recently featured in a USA Today Travel article that praised its “astonishing” chow mein sandwich, Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining is known by locals for more than just its kitchen’s specialties. The restaurant also won a prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive award in 2011, and its world-famous jazz and blues performances have helped cement its self-proclaimed reputation as New England’s "home of eggroll, jazz, and blues."
Long before the sounds of horns and saxophones filled its halls, the New Shanghai Restaurant opened its doors in 1905. It was not until the mid-1960s, however, that the Chan family refurbished the Woonsocket landmark and began serving an innovative combination of Cantonese, Szechwan, Hunan, and Mandarin cuisines. Around this time, the Chans also brought in the live jazz and blues music that continues to fill the main dining area—known as the Horseshoe Bar Lounge—and the famous Four Seasons Jazz and Blues Club.
With its red paper lanterns, traditional Chinese artwork, and colorful paintings of musicians, the Four Seasons has played host to such legendary blues, jazz, and folk artists as Dizzy Gillespie and Rebecca Parris. A buffet spread accompanies musical performances, during which enthralled audiences watch as musicians pound eggrolls against snare drums or slide their hands along guitars strung up with slippery chow mein noodles.
Jazz has had many homes over the years. Born in the South, moving to New Orleans and Chicago, and a world traveler in its old age, the musical form brings to mind myriad influences. Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen is inspired by the storied musical form, from its lively cuisine to its song-filled atmosphere. Live jazz musicians coax classic strains and improvised notes from their instruments Tuesday through Sunday, drawing from every chapter of the genre’s varied history. Chefs riff on the bluesy style with a delectable menu of Southern eats, from crispy cheese grits with shrimp to fried chicken atop buttermilk waffles. The club’s vibrant lights and exposed-brick walls call to mind some of the most renowned jazz bars to be found in New Orleans or Chicago. To enhance this antique-nightclub atmosphere, bartenders whip up a lineup of craft cocktails while referring to their patrons as “hot chick” or “cool Felis catus.”
After graduating cooking school in Paris and testing his skills in French brasseries, Ian Just made his way back overseas to Les Zygomates and has been providing patrons with authentic French cuisine since its opening in 1994. The dinner menu is served starting at 5:30 p.m. and kicks off tastebud tournaments with a smorgasbord of small plates, such as the savory lobster and creamed leek crepe with black truffle sauce ($14). Munch on a bowl of mollusks with parsley and garlic butter ($10), discover a new appreciation for root vegetables with a plate of roasted beets paired with aged goat cheese ($9). The main meal stage pleases palates with plates of scallops accompanied by celery root puree, haricots verts, and brown butter sauce ($28). Molars and incisors exercise their functionality by working on grilled lamb chops with fava beans, leeks, fingerling potatoes, and bordelaise ($28), while swiss chard, potato mousseline, and reduction sauce ($23) saves chicken from its reputation on the worst-dressed list.
The practiced chefs at Buono Bistro have spent the last 30 years creating a mouthwatering menu of classic Italian comfort food jazzed up with a gourmet twist. In addition to their daily specials, they craft gnocchi gorgonzola, lobster ravioli, and wild-mushroom risotto from scratch. The expansive menu also includes such nonpasta specialties as braised-lamb osso buco and veal stuffed with provolone and prosciutto.
Basking in the glow of an ornate, glittering chandelier, guests can sip a handcrafted martini or a glass of bold wine. Though the food and decor are decidedly upscale, Buono Bistro keeps it low-key, offering diners a relaxed atmosphere akin to a billionaire's treehouse.