New Rivers is one of those restaurants I often heard about, but for some reason or another, never visited. Perhaps it’s because I imagined it was a fine dining establishment requiring a special occasion to go rather than just somewhere to stop by on whim. While New Rivers is a fine dining establishment, after eating there, I wouldn’t wait for another special occasion to go there again as it does allow for casual dining for anyone seeking quality.
7 Steeple Street
Providence, RI 02903
Service and Atmosphere
The exterior of New Rivers is simple with a small sign marking the location of the restaurant inside a historic looking building near the edge of the East Side of Providnece. The interior isn’t what I expected because it was mildly rustic with a casual atmosphere, but it still have off that mood of a fine dining establishment. The service was courteous, prompt, and helpful.
As always, at any restaurant I try for the first time, I always get excited and want to try everything. New Rivers offers a lot of delicious items on the menu, but to my dismay, there was only so much we could try in one sitting. The meal began with a basket of delicious breads and olive oil, so the mood was set for an enjoyable evening. The highlights for me were the charcuterie board and the sea bass.
Charcuterie Board – I’m a sucker for a good charcuterie board filled with homemade meats and/or local cheeses. We tried a board made up of smoked duck breast, rilletes (pork potted and topped with fat), and a ham. They came served with a side of delicious mustard and pickled vegetables. Every single item on the board was delicious, but my favorite was probably the smoked duck breast. Even the mustard was so good that we were dipping plain bread into it. While delicious, it was strong, which is why we didn’t want to eat the mustard with any of the meats for fear of overpowering the delicately crafted flavors. I’d love to stop in for the charcuterie board alone.
Smoked Bluefish – Bluefish gets a bad rap as an oily, fatty fish with a strong flavor. Nonetheless, that’s exactly why it’s a great fish for smoking. It can hold its own flavor against the smoke and it’s natural fatty oils keep it from drying out. I was a little skeptical about the seasoned tomatoes accompanying the fish because my experience is that tomatoes (or tomato sauce) isn’t always the best compliment for strong tasting fish. Luckily, the tomatoes actually sort of made this dish come alive. They added a bright, acidic bite that broke up the smoky heaviness of the fish.
Steak – The steak of the day was a shoulder tender (teres major) cut of beef that is often less expensive than filet mignon, but often compared to it in terms of tenderness. It was expertly prepared and very tender while having more flavor than a typical filet mignon. The accompanying earthy vegetables, which were nicely seasoned, added a classy take on meat and potatoes.
Sea Bass – I very much enjoyed the hearty portion of sea bass along with the charred corn and pork belly salad floating in a light creamy sauce. Unfortunately, the sea bass was very under-cooked in the middle. When I asked our server if that was the intended preparation, he said that some people can eat it that way, but that it was indeed underdone. This was perhaps a veiled attempt to excuse the cooking mistake, while still offering to rectify the situation. They took the fish back, cooked it some more, and re-plated my dish so that it looked presentable again. I think that may have impressed me most about the situation. Many restaurants should re-plate a dish that gets sent back, but many do not. The flavors of the dish were absolutely wonderful, so I won’t focus on the mistake that is hopefully a one-off situation at an otherwise excellent restaurant.
I very much enjoyed dinner at New Rivers. I appreciate any restaurant serving quality (often local) food, prepared well, and presented nicely. The atmosphere is perfect for a casual, but classy date night and the menu changes enough to keep it interesting each visit. I will definitely return to New Rivers and can’t wait to try another charcuterie board when I do. Highly recommended as one of the better fine dining restaurants in the Providence area.
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