This time of the summer marks one of Amy’s and my favorite times of the year. I’m not talking about beach weather! We are currently in the middle of Providence Restaurant Week.
It is an annual event where local restaurants feature menus that showcase the restaurant's “flavor” at discount prices. All participating restaurants offer a three-course lunch or dinner at $19.99 and $29.99, respectively. This makes trying new expensive restaurants less of a gamble.
One of the restaurants featured in Providence Restaurant Week is Audrey’s Restaurant in the Johnson & Wales Inn on Route 44 in Seekonk. We have driven by the inn on many occasions; however, the participation in this program brought us in the door. On first entering the inn itself, I was impressed by the level of refinement and quality. It certainly exceeded my expectations. The restaurant was located towards the back of the lobby and when we walked in, we were greeted kindly by the host, a current Johnson & Wales student. Both the inn and the restaurant are serviced by students currently working toward a degree at the university. This fact makes your meal a one-of-a-kind experience.
The décor inside the restaurant was elegant and classy. There was a wine room visible through glass doors with a private tasting table. During our meal, there was a group of women tasting wines and eating appetizers. They seemed to be enjoying the experience quite a bit.
After being led to our table, we took a few minutes to browse both the regular menu and the special restaurant week promotions. We made our picks from the restaurant week selection, but also ordered a pizza from the standard menu so that we could sample more dishes. The waitress who read the specials and took our orders was clearly new to the industry. She made a few errors but the nature of the restaurant encourages an educational atmosphere and the mistakes are easily excusable. For example, when we received the bottle of wine we ordered, the bottle in its entirety was distributed between two wine glasses. The waitress also looked for our assistance in the pronunciation of consommé. However, her eagerness to please exceeded any frustration associated with these mistakes.
We ordered a pizza with sweet Italian sausage and it was brought first at our request. The crust was crispy and delicious, but the sauce was a little pasty and generic. The pizza was large and we boxed up over two thirds of it in anticipation of the remainder of the meal.
We waited quite a while for our appetizers from the prix fixe menu. We were told the kitchen was backed up, but when we looked around, there were only about six other tables. Perhaps this was an additional indication of the educational process associated with the restaurant. For appetizers, I ordered lobster and crab wontons and Amy ordered slow cooked short ribs served over a bed of corn. The appetizers weren’t especially hot, which begged the question of timing. The wontons were standard fare, served with a soy dipping sauce. I enjoyed them. Amy thought her short rib was tender but heavy on the lime flavor.
For the main course, Amy had steak with asparagus and potatoes. The steak came out medium, as ordered, and the vegetables were prepared very well. My seared scallops came on top of a potato pancake that was delicious. The scallops were seared perfectly. My only feedback on the dish was that it came with only two scallops. The scallops I received were substantially smaller than those that the woman near us received. Had I only ordered this dish, I would have left hungry.
The prix fixe menu comes with dessert. By this point, we were too full and ended up taking the dessert home with us. The options presented were chocolate torte, crème brulee, cheesecake, and raspberry cheesecake. We got one of each cheesecake and they were quite good when I ate them at home the following day (Amy is not a dessert person).
In general, the experience at Audrey’s was really positive. It was fun to be part of the educational environment, mistakes and all. Directly on the menu it states that they will not accept gratuities, however, you may make any donation you wish towards the university’s scholarship funds. We ended up leaving an amount just shy of the standard 20 percent. Our bill was indicative of the restaurant week promotion, but prices on the regular menu were very reasonable for the quality of food and service.