Dining ~ birch ~ Providence

birch
200 Washington St.
Providence, RI
(401) 272-3105

birch by I {heart} Rhody

Ben Sukle earned a reputation in Providence as chef at The Dorrance, and when he was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef in 2012. So when he struck out with his wife, Heidi, to open his new restaurant, birch, Bear and I had to be among the first in the door.


birch interior by I {heart} Rhody

birch occupies the space that used to be taken by Tini. True to it's former name, it's teeny. Tiny. With seating for about 12 (ed. 18 seats, per Edward Davis), it has to be one of the smallest restaurants we've been to, which gives it an exclusive feel. It's also very nicely decorated, with light wood and beach photographs, metal and marble, so the feel is airy and not crowded.

The Sukles are from Pennsylvania and drank Pennsylvania Dutch birch beer growing up. Now they carry the brand in their restaurant, and have named the restaurant "birch" in its honor.

image: Beer Brahmins
I started with an appetizer of shaved scallops with avocado, sesame seeds, radishes and bronzed fennel. I was taken aback to find the scallops were raw - I didn't know you could eat raw scallops - but I overcame my initial dismay when I tasted the dish. It's creamy, fresh and cool, a delicious summer salad. The presentation is beautiful, and those feathery strands of bronzed fennel added a lovely flavor, as did the sesame seeds. It's also easy to overdo on this one. By the last few bites, it felt very rich.

Shaved scallops with radish by I {heart} Rhody


Bear's appetizer was warm Jonah crab soup with heirloom potatoes, green tomato and egg with spicy grains. She reported it had very tender potatoes, nice texture, and a pleasantly savory aftertaste. I tried it, but didn't enjoy it as well as she did.

Warm crab by I {heart} Rhody


My entree was Rhode Island Berkshire pork with charred and raw cucumbers, rhubarb and house made sofrito. The sofrito was a tasty combination of sweet and tart. The pork was was well-prepared and well complimented by the rhubarb sauce. I'd never had charred cucumbers before. It was interesting to have something I've always eaten raw, cooked in the same meal where I ate something I'd always eaten cooked, raw. We had a winner with the pork.

Rhode Island pork by I {heart} Rhody


Unfortunately, Bear was not as happy with her crispy Vermont quail with sugar snap peas, shiitake and corianders. She felt the quail lacked flavor, and that the peas were too salty. It was her first time trying quail, so it may just not be her speed.

Crispy quail by I {heart} Rhody


We ended with desserts. Bear chose Japanese style cheesecake with glazed strawberries, sorrel and wild rose ice cream. The ice cream was sweet and creamy, and tasted like the fragrance of fresh roses. The cheesecake was lighter than the usual style, having been whipped up. Bear declared it her favorite dessert of all time.

Japanese cheesecake with wild rose ice cream by I {heart} Rhody


My dessert was Triple Chocolate Pudding, which kind of sounds like one pudding with three kinds of chocolate, but is three different chocolate puddings together on the plate: white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. It's served with a dollop of rhubarb over it, as well as oat crisps and crushed peanuts. Overall it was delicious, though I could have done without the rhubarb. Paired with the pork it was very good. But with the chocolate pudding, it ended up tasting a bit like fruit yogurt.

Triple chocolate pudding by I {heart} Rhody

We really enjoyed dinner at birch. The service is impeccable, but friendly, and our server took the time to describe what was on the plates, recommended a very good wine and was happy to share the origin story of birch's name. The dining room is small enough to have an intimate, exclusive feel, but open and airy enough that it isn't claustrophobic.

Comments

  1. This looks absolutely delicious!!!! YUMMY!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Melissa! Everything is so fresh, too.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this!! Shaved scallops...I'm intrigued

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! You could make a meal out of that salad. It's wonderful!

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  3. My husband also grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, where my inlaws still live, so I'm very familiar with birch beer :) P.S. You had me at "triple chocolate pudding".

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    Replies
    1. Jessica, we lived in Harrisburg for six years, and have tried plenty of birch beer! I hope you enjoy some at birch. And, of course, the pudding.

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