Sunday, January 10, 2010

Julian's in Providence

Speaking of New Year's dishes, I had some fabulous eats while visiting New England. My lovely "future sister-in-law" checked before choosing low-key resto Julian's in Providence, RI for dinner. HappyCow lists Julian's as veg-friendly, and is it ever- according to the menu, seitan can be substituted for all meaty entrees. Many restaurants will remove the meat from an entree dish if you ask them, but I've never seen a non-vegetarian/vegan restaurant advertise mock meat substitutes so freely!

Sitting at a table covered with album art of bands like Thievery Corporation, Depeche Mode, David Bowie, and others, we first devoured a platter of house-made tortilla chips served with smoked tomato romanesco, as well as a naan pizza. It was likely an overload of carbs, but I enjoyed the smoky romanesco sauce, which had a light salty taste from some parmesan cheese. The naan pizza was a confused mix of potato-leek sauce, balsamic reduction, watercress, oyster mushrooms, and mozzarella, and though it managed to nicely balance out light and hearty, none of the unique flavors of the ingredients seemed to particularly shine through at all.

The tempeh sausage cassoulet that I'd chosen as my entree was more to my liking- warming, hearty, with white beans, pearl onions, and brussels sprouts. Though lacking enough tempeh sausage to give the dish the smokiness I expected, the cassoulet was instead highlighted with a a saffron-tomato sauce- an interesting and tasty choice! With the filling cassoulet rounded out by herbed focaccia and a salad, I thought I'd need to be rolled out of our booth. My honey had ordered a mustard-hoisin glazed chicken (which I bet would've been a great seitan glaze as well), but I eagerly sampled the fennel-sage polenta and garlicky kale that accompanied it- though unusually spicy, I loved the earthy, melt-in-your-mouth polenta and the light garlic flavor of the kale.

I felt relaxed and at ease at Julian's, and it wasn't just the company I was with or the tall glass of sangria that I was sipping. With the CD art, mismatched tables, He-Man cartoons looping on the TV in the bathroom, and the comfort food menu, I might as well have been having dinner in a high school pal's basement. Minus the fake-ID needed to buy booze. Score one for Julian's!

Julian's, 318 Broadway, Providence, RI. 401-861-1770

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