Gracie’s restaurant in downtown Providence is now offering a three-course kids’ tasting menu during the holiday season. Executive Chef Matthew Varga and Pastry Chef Melissa Denmark designed the kids’ menu using the same philosophy behind Gracie’s main dining menu: “offering the freshest ingredients to reflect the flavors of the season.” Varga said, “I always have a blast cooking for kids because we were all kids once. My inspiration for this menu is all the things I loved to eat when I was a kid. Broccoli Mac & Cheese—I grew up on that. Meatloaf—my father, he’d be very proud of my meatloaf. And my mother [would make] fried mozzarella. That’s a thing we always had around when I was growing up. The menu’s really reliving my childhood. It’s a great time.”
In order to check out that “great time,” my family went to dinner at Gracie’s this past weekend to sample several of the kids’ menu items. My daughters are a bit young to clean their plates, which was fine with us adults since that meant we could get a taste of all those childhood memories. From an adult perspective I offer these notes on the menu items my children had. The Mozzarella Arancini, fried mozzarella with a marinara dipping sauce, was a big hit and from the adult perspective, beautifully presented. The Chicken Noodle Soup was really hearty and the croutons added a wonderful crunch alongside the abundance of noodles.
I could’ve made a meal out of the mozzarella and a big bowl of the soup alone, but then I would’ve been very sad to have missed the Mac & Cheese that was so homey and crunchy. There was broccoli in the dish for health and color, as well as lots of big chunks of bacon for, well, bacon! The other kids’ second course we tried was the Meatloaf which my father and I could have easily polished off had it not been my daughter’s dinner. It may be a kids’ menu item, but the whole plate said Gracie’s with perfectly peeled and cooked carrots and onions, and deliciously creamy mashed potatoes.
As for the third course, desert, unsurprisingly I didn’t manage to get a bite of either the Milk & Cookies or the Brownie Sundae. My daughters enjoyed everything which would be the endorsement I’d want. Pastry Chef Melissa Denmark had the best last remark when I asked her about the menu, “It’s a good time to be a kid.”
There are three choices in each course of the kids’ menu: First Course of Baby Greens Salad, Mozzarella Arancini or Free Range Chicken Noodle Soup; Second Course of Rotini Mac & Cheese, Local Catch Fish & Chips or Blackbird Farms Meatloaf; Third Course of Milk & Cookies, Brownie Sundae or Gracieʼs Crème Brûlée. The cost per child is $25. For more information or to make a reservation, see www.graciesprov.com.