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Persimmon in Bristol, RI


speidec
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As a faithful EGulleter for the last several years, I would love to invite all the New England faithful to our new venture in Bristol, Rhode Island called Persimmon. I look foward to cooking for all of you in our lovely New England town.

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We call it seasonal contemporary American cuisine and we are located in the historic district of Bristol. We have a web address, www.persimmonbristol.com, and posted menus and potos are being uploaded soon on the site. The hardest part of getting the doors open are behind us, now we have to do the finishing touches! You can give us a call at 401.254.7474 and we can fax a menu, but it does change daily with what the market provides. We also have just 46 seats including 4 at the bar. We have a full liquor and wine selection as well. If anyone stops by be sure to let us know you are an EGer. It would be a joy to meet local members! Look foward to seeing all of you!

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  • 4 weeks later...

We went to Persimmon last night for my birthday dinner. Spoiler alert: this post is an absolute rave. I seriously think that every restauranteur in Providence should be a bit worried that traffic down Route 114 is going to increase in the coming months, thanks to Chef Champe Speidel's (a.k.a., speidec's) fantastic new place.

I'll start by saying that I called to get reservations for two PLUS an infant at about 7 pm on a busy Saturday night. I know full well that adding a couple late in the evening, particularly a couple with an infant, can be a pain in the ass: who knows whether they'll order a full meal with wine and when they'll actually clear the table, right? But Lisa, who runs the front (and is Champe's fiancé), made a reservation for us at 8:30 -- and this all happened before I mentioned I was an eGulleteer!

This treatment continued once we arrived and throughout the night. We were given a table for four so that we had room for Bebe and her diaper bag. Even though Andrea had to breastfeed Bebe twice while we were there, the staff was friendly, supportive, and discreet all evening long. (If you have a little kid and like fine dining, you know that this sort of treatment is extremely rare in non-"family" restaurants.)

The amuse was a black sea bass sashimi with cucumber liquor and cilantro, a fine start save for a single fish scale. The menu, featuring seasonal contemporary American cuisine, was headlining peas and fava beans front and center, and they surrounded three seared giant scallops, which were sweetened by chunks of an amazing, smoky bacon. We also had a beet salad that was, hands down, the best of many, many beet salads that have passed my lips, featuring a marvelously runny goat cheese from Farmstead Cheese Shop in Providence.

We each had two luscious kumamoto oysters in their briny liquor made just slightly bitter by a few drops of Campari. The summer mixer brought out the sweetness of the oysters in a way that a mignonette simply cannot. Our spring friends then made another appearance in a luxurious pea soup, poured at table around a citrus (not sure if it was yuzu, lime, or lemon, or a combination) sorbet, morels, and a few more fava beans. These dishes were simply perfect and perfectly simple, each a combination of fresh, assertive flavors seeking not to be clever but to be right, to be good.

We cleansed with a spoonful of blood orange sorbet (splendid) in preparation for our main courses: a subtle bow-tie carbonara with that haunting bacon and still more peas (you can see we were a bit silly about the arrival of those early summer pearls) and a BBQ chicken dish, which we found to be good but not up to the standards of the rest of the dishes. Indeed, the sauce for the excellent thigh and breast meat couldn't hold a candle next to the sharp slaw tossed atop outstanding fingerling potatoes.

Thoughout the evening, the preparation was perfect and the presentation was perfect. We drank glasses off the strong and very reasonable wine list all night: two glasses of a solid 2003 Viognier by Smoking Loon and one outstanding Rock Rabbit 2003 Syrah. Had we not been preparing for a father's day blowout tomorrow, we would have had dessert as well; the ice cream, gelato, and sorbet sampler seemed a good bet, and the cheese plate (remember, from Farmstead Cheese) looked amazing.

Lisa checked in on us regularly throughout the night, chatting about Chef Champe's eGullet obsession and the first few weeks of business. We were surrounded by happy tables, among them many folks who, like us, made the trip down from Providence to show their allegiance to the former chef at Gracie's or simply due to the growing buzz.

Indeed, it's probably best to think of Persimmon as a high-end family place. The servers work well as a friendly, attentive team; the space is intimate and calmly designed; Lisa and Chef Champe are sensitive to the flow of the room and the experience of each table. Finally, the restaurant is quite remarkably inexpensive considering the food; honestly, if they were to raise prices 20%, the final bill would make a whole lot more sense to this diner. We left thinking that we had finally found our replacement for Empire, where we had been regulars until the place collapsed, sadly, a while back.

Unlike Empire, which sat across from Trinity Rep Theatre, Persimmon is just off Hope Street in downtown Bristol, a fifteen-to-twenty minute drive (depending on how brazen you feel as you negotiate the several speed traps) down 114 from I-195. I know that a homey feeling place that is good about kids isn't likely to get you to make that drive, but I'm here to tell you: just six weeks into its existence, this is one of the best places to eat in the greater Providence area already, and the sky is the limit.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Glad to see that a fellow Empire allum is doing well. Having known Champe, and eaten his food several times, it is no suprise that hiis food is doing well. He is very smarth, and very good at what he does. It would not supirse me to see that he wins Food and Wine Top Ten Best New, James Beard Best Young Chef, and James Beard Best Chef NE in the near future.

Keep up the good work Champe!!

Tonyy13

Owner, Big Wheel Provisions

tony_adams@mac.com

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Glad to see that a fellow Empire allum is doing well.  Having known Champe, and eaten his food several times, it is no suprise that hiis food is doing well.  He is very smarth, and very good at what he does.  It would not supirse me to see that he wins Food and Wine Top Ten Best New, James Beard Best Young Chef, and James Beard Best Chef NE in the near future. 

Keep up the good work Champe!!

Having known Champe and being a fellow chef I would recommend his food and certainly cannot wait to eat his food here before I leave Rhode Island. Hes a good man and a great chef.

Good luck Champe. Bring em in and make them weep with your great food.

Richard

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chef Speidel -

Will you be planning on adding a lunch menu at anytime in the future? Or, will the restaurant be available for private parties? I'm responsible for finding a place for a rehearsal lunch and all of the places in Newpoert seem, well, rather blah. chrisamirault's review presented your restaurant as anything but.

I figured that while this may have been better as a personal e-mail, I feel that the eGullet communit would benefit from knowing the answers to these questions as well...

BTW - congratulations on a successful opening!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I want to say thank you for the kind words. The restaurant, in its infant stage, is going very well and exceding initial expectations although there is always something more we can do. We have a long way to go to reach our goals. But, the initial response from our customers is extrordinary and motivating.

As for lunch plans, not yet, but we are available for private parties up to 50 people and perfect for rehersal dinners, etc. Feel free to call and discuss, I answer the phone all day!

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  • 8 months later...
  • 8 months later...

Much thanks to fellow Egulleter and chef, Champe Speidel for a great evening recently at his restaurant. We were celebrating my fiancée's birthday and Champe and his staff made the night very special. We had been looking forward to trying the chef's tasting since our first trip to Persimmon this summer. I believe it was a 6 course tasting but I think I may have lost count after the many little extra treats the chef sent out from the kitchen. Some highlights were:

* The cream of mushroom soup (which was praised in a recent Food & Wine magazine) - Ok how good can a soup possibly be? Well ...as soon as we both took our first taste we just looked at each other with raised eyebrows "Are you kidding me?" Incredible. Earthy and creamy at the same time. I could have eaten a gallon of this soup :)

* A candy striped beet salad with blood orange and lobster knuckle meat - I've had a little bit of an aversion to beets since I was a kid. I'm glad I gave this one a shot with somewhat of an open mind. It was actually very good.The beets were sweet but not over the top like I remember beets to be. The blood orange pieces were a perfect fit with the beets and the lobster.

* Scrambled eggs with first of the year Oregon truffles- Yep, scrambled eggs. As silly as this may sound, I think this may have been my favorite dish of the night. I'm not even sure how to describe why it was... it just was.

* A perfectly prepared duck breast. Pink and beautiful. Juicy ... just delicious.

Other wonderful treats included a succulent lamb shank, duck confit with the cheese agnolotti, a generous cheese plate with numerous condiments and the desserts... mmmm the desserts. Chocolate ganache cake, lemon parfait,and crème Brule.

The service was excellent. Friendly and attentive but not smothering. It was just a wonderful night out. If you haven't gone to Persimmon I highly recommend taking a trip to Bristol!

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  • 5 months later...

A couple of weeks ago I took my good friend and fellow EG member WallyD4 down to Bristol for dinner at Persimmon. It was the same type of creatively delicious dinner I've come to expect from Champe and his team. They were also gracious enough to let me fumble around with my camera and try to take pictures of all the dishes he sent out for the tasting menu.

The kitchen got our juices flowing with a wonderful amuse of fresh Blue Hill Bay Mussel with saffron and a curry vinaigrette.

Then came a cool salad of Charentrais, seedless watermelon, calaminth and sheeps milk feta. The charentrais is similar to a cantaloupe, it had a bit more of a citrus flavor than I was expecting. It paired well with the mint and rather mild tasting feta.

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Next up was a warm soup of peas with morrels, lobster and chive blossoms. There was also a sorrel leaf floating on top. This was just incredible. I don't think I've ever had the same soup twice at Persimmon and they ALWAYS blow me away. This was truly decadent with three plump morrels and piece of lobster floating in this creamy sweet pea base.

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Onto the pasta. Fresh bucatini with native basil, almond pesto, and pan drippings. Apparently whatever pan drippings they have at the moment are used in this dish. The bucatini was cooked perfectly. The pan drippings had a wonderful flavor, but really took over the dish. I couldn't really taste the pesto.

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Seared scallop with truffle butter and Bordelaise sauce. I almost feel like the sauce was more of the star than the scallop. The bordelaise was very rich and bold. As delicious as it was,I felt the truffle butter paired up better with the scallop.

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The foie gras course was next. Like the soup, I don't think I've ever had the foie gras the same way twice here. The foie tasted like seared butter on a bed of duck confit, and bing cherries and balsamic vinegar. This dish was one of the stars tonight.

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Lamb saddle with spring parsnips,barley risotto and lamb jus. The lamb was tender and full of flavor. Really nice.

A ragout of braised rabbit, artichokes, potato gnocchi,spring vegetables and sage. This was one of my favorite dishes. The rabbit was just falling apart. A wonderful stew. The veggies were sweet and light in the juice.

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The cheese tasting is an experience in and of itself. 3 generous pieces of cheese with about 10 garnishes. Everything from edible flowers, to a more traditional quince paste. I can't for the life of me remeber any of the cheeses except for the montenebro cheese. All were very good though. The presentation was almost too good to eat. ALMOST :)

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A palette cleanser of Lychee sorbet with a lychee and ranier cherry salad.

My dessert was chocolate and bananas. Chocolate mousse, peanut praline bananas and vanilla custard sauce. Good stuff.

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Walt had a strawberry and rhubarb tart with creme fraiche ice cream.

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Just before I was about to explode from being so full... out came another treat from the kitchen. A creme brulee. We both really enjoyed this as well. I somehow found room for it!

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It was a great dinner as usual. It's always a treat to take someone new to Persimmon and see them get blown away by the food and the service. They are always very attentive and friendly. Never the least bit stuffy or overbearing. Champe and his wife Lisa both came by the table to say hello and check on us, which was really nice. It's always great to see them.

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