The Ivy Tavern: Hope Street, ProvidenceMay 23, 2014
My inaugural 'Eating Out' post!
The Ivy is our new local, a fact I think I like more than the actual house itself. We sublet for a very short period, when we first arrived last year, on Lewis Street in Hope and discovered The Ivy just before we moved to closer to Downcity.
Now we are back in the neighbourhood we are making a concerted effort to achieve the holy grail of all bar goers: having the barman know your 'usual'. Normally a 'usual' would be a beverage of some sort. In our case it's going to be Korean style chicken wings, but I digress.
Tucked into the street between the kitchen store 'Stock' and 'Pizzico' Italian restaurant, The Ivy's tile hung double fronted facade is marked by day with it's hung sign and by night with it's fairy light strung windows. The Ivy isn't about a gimmicky interior or chi-chi furniture, it's about decent home cooked food and great drinks.
The atmosphere has been inviting, relaxed and inclusive every time we've been in- with customers ranging in age, style and order preference each and every time we've popped by. Though I've not been be on my own I would happily stop in for a drink or some food alone, equally with a group of girlfriends or my parents. The Ivy is good, simple and honest.
My go to beer is a Narragansett larger, both because it's on draft and thus I can get a pint and because my American friends have teased me mercilessly about my naive love of Miller High Life. Charlie is better at sampling different guest beers and asking for recommendations and so went for the Foolproof that was on draft. Both were crisp, refreshing and didn't last long- that being said our empty glasses didn't last long either as the server was eagle eyed and offering another round at the appropriate moment.
Having eating at the Ivy a fair few times we've got our order down to a T. That's not to say there aren't other great dishes on the menu but these are our favourites for a relaxed quick dinner to go with a few pints.
We ordered up the Korean chicken wings, garlic fries and calamari. I also got an extra portion of the accompanying coleslaw with the wings because: A) those wings have a kick b) it's also really good.
The food was quick (no doubt helped along by the smooth flow of Gansett and Foolproof on the part of our sever) and was cooked fresh to order in the not-quite-open-but-you-can-see-the-chef-cooking-your-dinner kitchen behind the bar.
Hands down the best chicken wings in Providence. I'll willingly try the others but they've got stiff competition here. It's a combination of the flavour and the texture. The wings are fried until really crisp in a light coating that not a batter or breading but crisps more than simple chicken skin would. Doused in a sweet and spicy sticky sauce that's just on the right side of 'it burns, it BURNS', I would happily eat these wings and only these wings for the rest of my stint Stateside. Teamed with the crisp, not overly rich coleslaw there is literally nothing about this dish that should be changed. Ever.
The garlic fries are, again, crisp on the outside, fluffy within and piled high with friend garlic. The garlic is fried just before the point of turning bitter so it's flavour is really savoury and the garlic bits themselves are crispy and crunchy and don't leave you needing desperately to brush your teeth.
The calamari was a new one for us this time, we know we need three apps shared between us for a good sized dinner and the calamari caught my eye. Knowing this is a State tradition (so much so that there is considerable weight behind the issue of naming it as the State's official appetizer!) and having tried it elsewhere in the city I was confident it would be a winner. For me it had fallen over the edge of 'it burns, it BURNS' and the accompanying chipotle mayonnaise just confirmed the oral inferno, but that's personal preference. I'd have probably teamed it with a lemon aioli to cool it down a bit so you may well see that coming out of my kitchen soon!
With a final tab of just over $50 for four pints and three large apps that over filled us I've got to wonder if there is anything wrong with this place? Atmosphere, check. Great food, check. Brilliant service, check. Good beer, check. Value for money, check. Korean style chicken wings, check mate.
The Ivy Tavern