Show Me the (Milk) Money

I have a friend who is always one step ahead when it comes to finding the best food in Providence, and two steps ahead when it comes to posting pictures of it on Instagram. I’ve been asking him (groveling, pleading, etc.) to take me along on his food adventures, and finally the invitation came.

“Have you checked out Milk Money?” he wrote one day.

“No!” I replied. “What? Where?”

“Near Hot Club. It’s a new bar/restaurant. Let’s check it out!”

I didn’t need to know anything more. If Jason recommended it, it was sure to be good.

We showed up on the first Saturday that they were officially open, and I was instantly woo’d by their décor: It was like finding a secret cellar filled with Scotch and warmth and friendly faces on a cold winter’s day. I was immediately struck by the woodsy feel — tables crafted from repurposed wood, rustic brick walls stamped with black lettering, small milk bottles on each table holding flowers. We were seated along a line of bench seats and greeted by two waitresses who would take care of us for the evening.

“The menu is designed for sharing,” they explained. “Plates come out as they’re ready, and the main dishes, these large ones at the bottom, take longer to prepare … at least 20 minutes. Just something to keep in mind.” Jason and I agree that sharing is the best way to experience a restaurant, and everything on the menu was enticing, from the “first bites” to the “platters,” so we needed some time to whittle down the choices. The drink menu was a good place to start.

The names of the cocktails were too creative to be overlooked, so I had to go with “The Poet & The Pen” hoping that its namesake would inspire me to write like one of the greats, and with sherry, Scotch, lemon and plum syrup, it had all the right ingredients. The sherry and lemon counterbalanced the Scotch, and it was smooth to drink yet complex to decipher, much like poetry itself. Jason ordered what would have been my second choice, an “All-Nighter,” made with aged rum, espresso, vanilla and chocolate. This is the adult version of chocolate milk, and I would have inhaled it in one big gulp. Jason exercised more self-control, but we did each consider ordering a second round for dessert.

The food: This is a place that beckons your return, so you can try everything you didn’t try before. Ingredients are purchased seasonally and locally, and the plates are creative. After much deliberation, Jason and I settled on two small dishes — the Charred Octopus (my Greece obsession lives on) and Crisp Brussels Sprouts, and one platter — the half-order of the Baffoni Farms Chicken, which the waitress assured us was enough to feed two people.

I haven’t been able to find grilled octopus that compares to that which I pulled from the sea this summer, but these babies (seriously, they’re little) are a very tasty substitute. The sunchoke puree was a nice complement and tasted like creamy mashed potatoes. And the bowl of Brussels sprouts, dressed with sea salt, red wine vinegar, curry and chili oil, were crisp and absolutely DELICIOUS. I’ve never been one to fight over Brussels sprouts, but if Jason hadn’t given me the last one, I might have put a fork through his hand.

In between the small plates and the main dish, a man named Jared — perhaps owner, perhaps guardian angel — came to our table with a plate of Grilled Oysters, “on the house, as a thank you,” for Jason’s advocacy and support on social media. We were humbled and amazed by this gesture (as Jason had never met him in person), and our tastebuds were equally impressed the moment we sampled the dish. The red fresno chili tarragon butter was lick-the-plate worthy, and I’m pretty sure I found bits of bacon hiding underneath the oysters. Spicy, warm, crispy, savory goodness. Jared, you have our many thanks for this treat.

Finally, the half-chicken: definitely enough for two people, and definitely worth the wait. The meat peeled off the bone, juicy and full of flavor, and the accompanying confit made it a completely satisfying dish. It also came with two buttermilk biscuits, baked with cheese, and that pushed me over the edge of satiation. But for cheesy biscuits, I will unbutton my pants.

(Kidding. I always wear elastic.)

We ended the evening with apple cider beignets (six of them nicely packaged in a paper bag), and fried pumpkin and pistachio bread pudding, which I loved in a way that was unexpected. It was a sweet finish to an already enjoyable evening.

This restaurant is a great addition to Fox Point Providence. With a welcoming atmosphere and delectable dishes, Milk Money will inspire both the poets and the food lovers, and it will warm the souls of anyone in need of respite from the winter’s cold.

566 S Main St, Providence; Monday, 4 – 10pm, Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 – 11pm, Thursday – Saturday, 4pm – Midnight;

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