Arts & Culture

In Jewelry District, a southern sensibility

Succotash does serious breakfast, brunch and dinner in relaxed milieu on Richmond Street

By
Arts & Culture Editor
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A recent morning at Succotash, a dining establishment situated along Richmond Street in the Jewelry District, came with an unexpected development. “The water,” the waitress informed us with a casual grin, “is orange.” Alarming? Yes. But honest and delivered with a smile? Also yes. The waitress laughed, “Welcome to Succotash!”

This aspect of blithe relaxation is part of the fun at Succotash, where the food, if not the water, has something of a gentle sparkle. Succotash is the latest project of the Sorbo Restaurant group, which also owns College Hill’s Coco Pazzo and English Cellar Alehouse. Here American standards come with a vaguely Southern lilt dished out in a quaint but comfortable setting.

It ought to be mentioned that the water situation may be attributed to a fire hydrant that had recently been tapped in the area. And the staff did take what seemed like appropriate safety measures. We were steered away from coffee and tap water and were kindly redirected to the juice menu. A bright blend of apple, ginger, spinach, beet and pineapple called “Jungle Juice” is the one and only circumstance in which I will endorse consuming anything so-named.

Like its namesake suggests, Succotash is something of a medley. Cuisine from below the Mason-Dixon line is not especially well-represented in Providence, but Succotash doesn’t come across as especially Southern. It should be said that the dinner menu, which this reviewer did not sample, includes such fare as chicken and waffles, smoked brisket and fried pickles.

But the breakfast and brunch offerings are pretty standard new American fare. On the whole the menu doesn’t seem to know precisely where it stands. I did discover that the word succotash comes from “sohquttahhash,” a dish traditional to Rhode Island’s own Narragansett tribe, so maybe there is a gesture toward local produce somewhere in there.

Even if there’s nothing remarkable or experimental here, what we had was done well and fairly priced. The veggie omelet comes stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, caramelized onion and peppers. A side of potatoes arrives crisp, hot and salty. It’s a pleasant, substantial start to the morning. The French toast brioche doused with bourbon and vanilla is also worth eating.

The bittersweet chocolate pancakes were the one truly exceptional dish. Unlike many iterations of the diner staple, they strike the perfect note of sweetness with chunks of Belgian chocolate. The velvet texture is surprising and welcome. They’re right on the precipice of actual cake, which is a very good thing.

Whether the hospitality, as the menu claims, is actually Southern also remains unclear — our servers’ accents would suggest otherwise. But their warmth is definitely genuine. The murky water episode was handled with calm demeanor and a welcome dose of good humor, which counts for something, right?

I’ll probably return, even if clear water doesn’t.

 

The Herald’s Brunch Picks: 

The Duck and Bunny 

Wickenden’s resident snuggery serves a delightful brunch every day. The crepe menu is entirely stacked, the salads are spry and the latkes with homemade applesauce are revelatory. The Afternoon Tea incorporates a selection of finger sandwiches, preserves, cupcakes and teas.

Every day 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. | 312 Wickenden St.

 

Julian’s

Brunch at Julian’s is something of an event, so arrive early on the weekends to feast on a colorful assortment of hashes, sandwiches, omelets and scrambles. More adventurous options include  the shakshuka — eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce — or the scrambled egg pizza.

Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. | 318 Broadway St.

 

Farmstead 

Biggie & Brunch, the monthly hip-hop bacchanalia at Wayland Square staple Farmstead, is a complete treasure. Accordingly, tables go fast, and advanced reservations may be necessary. The Notorious B.I.G., mimosas and seasonal local fare belong together. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo a bit early May 4 with a special collaboration between Farmstead and Chef Jake Rojas of Tallulah’s Taqueria.

First Sunday of every month 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. | 186 Wayland Ave.

 

Olga’s Cup and Saucer

The Jewelry District’s favorite artisanal bakery offers an array of exciting egg options on the weekends. Try them paired with polenta, stuffed into tortillas with beans and pico de gallo in the tostada, poached in grilled scallion cheddar scones or fried in a slice of sourdough.

Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. | 103 Point St.