Inspiring Cuisine at Aspire in Hotel Providence

Aspire 2A-Bar has always been a popular destination for the weekend crowd. A cool, trendy atmosphere with live music pumping everything from Reggae to smooth Jazz depending on the night. A spacious wrap around bar with a large draft beer selection, including some local breweries, a signature cocktail list and a special bar bites menu. It’s a great place to grab a drink or an appetizer to go along. However, there are two sides to this collaborative restaurant and lounge: A-Bar and Aspire Seasonal Kitchen.

Aspire’s dining room will impress anyone who steps foot inside. Fancy crystal chandeliers, red velvet booths and modern architecture dress the interior. Their dinner menu can best be described as contemporary New England cuisine. Chef Jori Rieben was brought in to lead the kitchen about one month ago. He is still getting acclimated and preparing the dishes he inherited, but will be revamping the menu very soon. Born in Switzerland, the new menu is expected to be similar with some Northern European influences. Either way, we were excited to try everything that Aspire had to offer.

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Always Eat Your Vegetables: Lunch at The Grange

Grange 2 - editedUp until I visited The Grange, there was very little I knew about Vegetarian food. It was a type of cuisine that I never thought I would enjoy. No meat? No way! What’s the point?! Although I still consider myself to be a carnivore with an insatiable appetite, one meal at The Grange completed changed my perspective. The biggest misconception is that Vegetarian food is boring. Believe it or not, this was some of the most exciting and flavorful food I have tasted in a long time. It also has a bad rep for being called rabbit food, but that too is far from reality. Take a peek at the beauty above. You probably wouldn’t even know that meat was missing from this sandwich. In fact, you probably wouldn’t miss it either. It’s wholesome and hearty cuisine that highlights vegetables in a way that will make you forget about meat. Using seasonal, organic produce from local farms, Chef Jon Dille has created a menu that appeals to all foodies regardless of their lifestyle and appetite.

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Good Feats: Alton Brown’s Roots and The Edible Inevitable Tour

Photo by: David Allen

Photo by: David Allen

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with one of my favorite Food Network personalities, Alton Brown. It would be a conversation filled with laughs and tales of his roots, transitioning from filmmaking to enrolling in culinary school. More importantly, we discussed his new show Cutthroat Kitchen and The Edible Inevitable Tour, a one-of-its-kind live event which Alton promises will be something you’ve never experienced before.

Very few tickets are available for this week’s show (2/21) at the Providence Performing Arts Center so my advice is to take a look at what’s left to ensure a seat for Friday’s antics. From what I gathered on the phone with Alton, you won’t be disappointed. Click the jump for my full interview.

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The Secret is Out at Public Kitchen & Bar

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Public Kitchen & Bar has quietly become one of the best new restaurants in Providence. In fact, you may not have even heard of this Modern American eatery yet. Located at the Renaissance Hotel, Public Kitchen opened in September 2013, replacing Temple, the hotel’s original restaurant. Don’t be fooled though. Public Kitchen is NOT your typical hotel restaurant. Chef Willis Stepp has created a fairly simple menu with complex flavors using intricate techniques. This culinary mastermind is reinventing comfort food with an upscale twist. From locally sourced produce to grass-fed beef, Public Kitchen boasts some of the best quality ingredients you will find in Downtown. All at very reasonable prices to boot!

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Year in Food Review – Our Favorites of 2013

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It’s hard to believe that 2013 is officially coming to a close. Once again, it was another great year for the Front Row Eats team as we immersed ourselves in Rhode Island’s local food scene. We tried everything from trendy food trucks to swanky five-star restaurants. Let’s not forget all of the amazing events we covered too. The Lamb Pro-Am was especially memorable. We teamed up with Chef Champe Speidel of Persimmon Restaurant to cook our Leg of Lamb recipe for hundreds of hungry carnivores as we represented RI in an exciting culinary showdown!

We thought it would be fun to reflect back and pick out our FAVORITE dining experiences of the year. It wasn’t easy but we narrowed it down and created our TOP TEN LIST. In case you missed any of our original reviews, just click the links below:

10. Coco Pazzo – Providence, RI

9. FuGo – Various locations (food truck)

8. XO Cafe – Providence, RI

7. Providence Coal Fired Pizza – Providence, RI

6. Noble Knots – Various locations (food truck)

5. Zooma – Providence, RI

4. The Dorrance – Providence, RI

3. Los Andes – Providence, RI

2. Blackie’s Bulldog Tavern – Smithfield, RI

1. Wurst Window at Chez Pascal – Providence, RI

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Providence Restaurant Week Returns January 5th – 18th, 2014

providence restaurant weekFrom January 5th – 18th, you can celebrate Providence Restaurant Week at TONS of  different locations throughout Rhode Island. This popular event is back again this winter with an ever-growing list of participating restaurants and eateries. Is there a restaurant that you have been dying to go to? Here’s your chance. Enjoy 3-course lunches for $14.95 and 3-course dinners for $29.95. It’s a great opportunity for you to dine at some of the state’s best restaurants at incredibly affordable prices.  Just don’t forget to make reservations!

Check out the entire list of participating restaurants and menus by clicking the link below.

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The Supper Bowl at Fred and Steve’s Steakhouse!

Fred and Steve 3 - editedIn my humble opinion, there are few things in this world better than food and football. Combine the grid iron with some grilled red meat and it’s like a match made in pigskin heaven. Former NFL players, Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie, have taken tailgating to the next level and created the ultimate steakhouse experience. Located at Twin River Casino, Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse boasts some of the best quality beef you will find around Rhode Island. Their versatile menu also offers the perfect mix of land and sea.

We recently had the opportunity to sample a variety of dishes from their regular menu. OK, I may have understated that. It was actually like an episode of Man VS. Food featuring Front Row Eats and some massive portions. I’m talking 5 lb lobsters and 48 oz Porterhouse Steaks just to name a few. Let’s move the chains and talk about some of the highlights from our meal at Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse!

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