Broadway Bistro

Setting a subtle mood
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  October 29, 2008

Broadway Bistro | 401.331.2450 | 205 Broadway, Providence |  Sun-Thurs, 5 pm-1 am; Fri-Sat, 5 pm-2 am | Major credit cards | Beer + wine  Sidewalk-level accessible
Broadway Bistro has a prime corner location with large windows looking onto the historic street in its name, as well as onto a side street. Therefore, you might expect a light-filled interior, at least during the sea-sons when it’s not dark by dinnertime. But a late-night spot thrives on setting a low-light mood, even a secretive air. Local designer Kyla Coburn’s combination of tomato-red walls, red lights, black wainscoting, black woodwork, and black ceilings definitely contributes to that vibe. 

The menu also accommodates bar food appetites, with hefty and out-of-the-ordinary appetizers, plus entrées that go beyond the usual spices and accompaniments. The appetizers are more meat-heavy than you might predict from the contemporary feel of the restaurant, i.e. the sliced beet salad has prosciutto; the red bean soup has chourico; and the artichoke and bibb salad has pancetta. Similarly, the house gnocchi, usually a reliable meatless option, are served with Italian sausage.

Nonetheless, our party of four managed to find several dishes that called to us, with Bill and friend Stuart considering an arm wrestle over which one of them would have the walnut-crusted hen ($14), and which the double duck plate ($20), highly touted by our waitress, as a new customer favorite. Bill ended up with the duck, and Stuart the “half a hen,” while Cathy and I both opted for nightly specials: a “fish fry” for her, and codfish cakes ($15) for me.

We started out by sharing the Broadway bowl, a soothing miso-ginger broth with vermicelli noodles and edamame ($11). The generous quantity of the edamame stretched this portion into leftovers for two lunches.

Stuart enjoyed the red bean soup ($4), especially the fresh cilantro that brought out the other flavors. His chicken entrée was served with mashed Yukon gold potatoes and roasted/caramelized carrots, the latter the hit of the table. The chicken also benefited from a Thanksgiving treatment: a cranberry-sage jus.

Bill’s duck plate featured seared duck breast and a confit risotto with a gingered port sauce. The peas listed in the menu didn’t materialize, but Bill seemed satisfied with his choice.

Cathy was also pleased with her fish fry, crispy-crusted flounder fillets balanced on a mound of risotto with pea tendrils, their crunch a nice contrast to the creamy risotto. 

My cod cakes had spices and crumbs in their batter, but also a strange (and strong) vinegary taste. Upon inquiring, I was told it was wine, but adding a bit of spark to the cod might have been better accomplished with lemon juice. I just couldn’t eat them, and I found a good contrast to these cod cakes just three days later in Warren, so it wasn’t just fish cakes per se. Bill and Stuart admitted there was a strong vinegar taste, but they liked them.

The cod cakes were served with mashed potatoes, a tomato vinaigrette, and sautéed spinach. The latter had tough stems, another indication to me that someone in the kitchen was not paying close attention to what diners would really be eating. Would the cook like to eat those stems?

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