doNUT! (donutgirl) wrote in rifood,

Temple Downtown

Friday night I went out to Temple Downtown, the newish restaurant now occupying the previously derelict Masonic Hall downtown.

I went mostly because I wanted to see what the new owners had done with that much revered landmark, and I wasn't expecting much from the food -- I'd already heard from a couple of sources that it wasn't so great. Well, maybe the restaurant just needed some time to find its legs, because I have to report that we found the menu both creative and appealing, and we really enjoyed everything we tried.

We started with some original, masonically-themed drinks -- the Squared Compass, the Scottish Rite, and the Urban Farmer. Both the Scottish Rite and the Urban Farmer made interesting use of vegetable elements, as opposed to the usual fruit juices and garnishes one finds in most cocktails. The Scottish Rite was made with some kind of citrusy liquor, plus herbs and slices of red pepper. Maybe it was a bit more salad than drink, but it was nonetheless delicious and unusual.

For our meal we had braised short-ribs, which came in a wonderfully rich sauce, lamb steak with white beans, and a fabulous gnocchi dish made with diced squash and a perfectly light cream sauce.

The service was good, the decor did a good job of incorporating the building's unusual history (there are masonic elements everywhere, but also a lot of faux-graffiti, as a nod to the taggers who used to have free reign here). My only real complaint is that the room is so dark, my parents had to hold candles in front of their menus in order to read them.

So... if you went before and were disappointed, or you were turned off by a negative review, I'd encourage you to give Temple Downtown another try. It was a great experience, and I hope it survives until my next trip to Providence.
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