Five Things: Pot Au Feu, Providence

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


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With spring in the air, Sean DeBobes found his thoughts turning to romance, and from there, to French cuisine. He dropped by the Bistro at Pot Au Feu, Providence's long-popular bistro, and here are the five things he wants you to know.

One. Setting.

I never get over the charm of descending those stairs and taking in the brick-walled bistro at Bob and Annie Burke's place. It remains one of the most charming, tucked-away rooms in the state. Twinkly white lights, wine bottles, cozy tables... I'm already in a good mood.

Two. Servers.

In a world where service gets spottier and spottier, surlier and surlier, Pot Au Feu's smooth and gracious staff always delivers. Well-trained, well-versed, and armed with that warm, crusty French bread (more, please!), it's old-fashioned attention to my experience that sets my night in an even better place. (If you love a host working your table, then you've really come to the right place... only Buddy Cianci works a room more than Bob Burke.)

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Three. Quiche.

Call me old-school, but I love a great quiche... and sometimes I want it for a light dinner, paired with that tangily-dressed house salad and a glass of Vouvray as I did this week. Pot Au Feu's quiche of the day is light enough, savory enough, and cheesy enough, in perfect balance. I only wish they made these to go. My Sundays would be a whole lot better.

Four. Boeuf Bourgignon.

It was Julia Childs' favorite (god rest her soul), and here, night after night, it's a wonderful classic, rendered just right. Pot Au Feu still makes all its sauces from scratch, and I love the layered flavors that announce subtly in the rich wine sauce. And when I can't finish, my server wraps it up in the trademark Pot Au Feu foil swan. Charming.

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Five. Creme Brulee.

Tap tap tap, perfection. Flamed just right to get the burnt note into the sweet of the sugar topping. Cool and creamy at the center. Why do we make up desserts endlessly when the French perfected it?

Would I go again? When I'm in the mood for the classics, oui.

Hit "Save": Pot Au Feu, 44 Custom House St, Providence, 273-8953.

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