My very first Restaurant Week (RW) was years ago when I lived in the Washington D.C. area. Some friends and I lunched at Roberto Donna’s Galileo (which closed but is currently in the process being resurrected), where the cuisine was amazing, the tab was low (thanks to the affordable RW prix-fixe menu), and perhaps most memorably, Billy Joel was seated across from our table with a group of friends–it was a trifecta of good fortune, and I’ve been a fan of RW ever since.
Though I moved further north to Newport, I’ve continued to be an avid online reader of The Washington Post, and a fan of their longtime, much-loved food critic, Tom Sietsema. Imagine my delight when I clicked on an August installment of his “Postcards from Tom” series and found a trio of Rhode Island eateries featured: Cook & Brown Public House, Farmstead/La Laiterie, and Bristol’s own Persimmon. “The beautiful food is worthy of a magazine cover – say, Vogue,” he wrote of Persimmon, owned by Chef Champe Speidel and his wife Lisa. Sietsema bestowed the intimate 35-seat restaurant with the distinguished honor of serving, “one of the most amazing soups of my life.” So when RW rolled along this week, Persimmon was top of my wish-list, chock full of expectations. Dining there last night (all the way in Bristol! We even crossed the bridge–does this merit a passport stamp?!), it was easy to see why the esteemed critic called this gem a “luscious restaurant.”
Every course was simply amazing, and with a robust wine list, it was easy to pair dinner with a complementary wine. Without further adieu, between the two of us, we enjoyed:
Creamy soup of mixed mushrooms with glazed celery root and native sage
Massachusetts sea scallop with grapefruit, Marcona almond, diced fennel and extra virgin olive oil
Warm salad of native potatoes with celery leaves, radish and creamy Burgundy truffle vinaigrette
Sweet potato coconut milk soup
Crispy skin blue cod filet with native red cabbage and butternut squash, red wine sauce
Braised lamb shank and shoulder (off the bone) with glazed pearl onions, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, rosemary-infused braising juices
Chocolate ganache tart with hazelnut praline and caramel, hazelnut-coffee ice cream
Narragansett Creamery yogurt and vanilla panna cotta with Massachusetts cranberry, apple and walnut crumble
Every course-better yet, every minute–was simply exquisite. Persimmon is an extraordinary treasure in Newport & Bristol County’s cadre of restaurants, and Southern New England at large. Whether for RW or an upcoming chilly winter night, Persimmon warms the soul.
Newport Restaurant Week continues through Sunday, November 14.