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.
The seasoned squad of musicians and stomach-swivelers at World Dance and Music Center can fortify the fitness and liberate the shackled hips of all body types and age levels. The multi-talented and multi-lingual Lola is an accomplished dancer who infuses her classes with emotion and an authentic Middle Eastern sensibility. Classes for all skill levels take place Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings. Beginners Bellydance slows down the pace to cater to the never-danced, while Bellydance for Performance is geared toward the experienced motionista, covering proper costuming and stage presence. Bedecked with hardwood floors, a wall full of mirrors, and an elevated stage, the 3,600-square-foot studio gives ample space to promote tummies' uninhibited fluttering.
India Restaurant's chefs modify iconic South Asian staples to eliminate excess fat, cholesterol, and calories while still ensuring that the dishes are delicious enough to win various accolades. The chefs craft each authentic dish with locally sourced seafood and produce, and they avoid frying any dish, eschew butter entirely, and only cook with canola oil. Yet their nacho-like papri chaat appetizer has been called "truly addictive" by the Providence Phoenix, which also called the restaurant’s biryani “a veritable feast for the senses.” To make their cuisine even more inclusive, the chefs prepare an array of vegan-friendly and gluten-free dishes.
The decor strives to be similarly accommodating, presenting diners with numerous seating options, each with a distinctive ambience. A projection screen playing subtitled Bollywood films dominates the main dining area, smaller tables surround each of the three roaring fireplaces, and more than 200 flickering candles line the bar area. During the warmer months, the garden courtyard tempts patrons with its swings for seats, lush gardens, and bubbling water fountains. The sidewalk seating allows guests to dine alongside their dogs and pet lobsters; a doggie menu offers hamburger-and-rice dishes and yogurt pops for canine companions.
Traditional belly dancers drift throughout the space on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the restaurant's global jazz ensemble entertains diners with its contemporary melodic stylings.
Under the ownership of Federal Hill native Christopher Conti, Blush Winebar pours half and full glasses from hundreds of red, white, and sparkling libations. The upscale watering hole offers more than 100 wines by the glass, each with its own distinct flavor notes and secret cheese crush. A champagne bar highlights the bubbly beverage with glasses, full bottles, and three-flute samplers as well as a selection of champagne-based cocktails, such as the Blush Boom Boom, a mixture of Moët champagne, pomegranate liqueur, Grand Marnier, and orange juice. Executive chef Jacen Scungio blends fresh, local ingredients to create the flatbread pizzas, sliders, and handmade pastas that populate the wine bar’s tapas menu and keep hungry imbibers from trying to stomp their wines back into grapes.
McFaddens Restaurant and Saloon combines the warm atmosphere and decadent fare of a family restaurant with the all the rowdy good times of an old-fashioned saloon. In the dining room, the wait staff shuffles around plates of classic fare for both lunch and dinner, including Black Angus burgers, roasted vegetable flatbread pizzas, and slow-roasted prime rib, with a few treats for kids, such as grilled-cheese sandwiches, cheeseburger sliders, and ice-cream pie for dessert. After dark, the bar comes alive with trivia and karaoke on Wednesday nights, supplemented by liquid courage in the form of beer towers and Ciroc ultra-premium vodka. Weekends start on Thursday with a live DJ and wrap up on Sunday with game-day specials during NFL games and professional rock-paper-scissor smack downs.