Like the setting for a film noir, the new Dean Bar is dimly lit. The principal colors are red, violet, and silver, and surfaces shimmer in pools of light. In the back, an impressionistic rainforest is painted against the wall. You sip your cocktail from a playful deco glass, the earthy mixture topped with a flower.
Chef James Mark has based acclaimed restaurant, north, in The Dean Hotel for several years, so it only made sense for him to add a lounge as well. Until recently, the space was occupied by The Magdalenae Room, a favorite spot for discerning imbibers. The Dean Bar is an exciting successor; here, bartenders get to show off their collaborative beverage menu, crafting drinks to suit individual tastes. Designed for 30 people at a time, the Dean Bar retains its speakeasy atmosphere. North diners may enjoy a digestif in the late evening, and a snack menu is forthcoming. -Robert Isenberg
Okay, so you had us at “gingerbread kit.” One of the great winter pastimes is baking those golden-brown cookies and decorating them with frosting and candies. Now, imagine gingerbread figurines created by Ellie’s Bakery, the renowned patisserie in downtown Providence. For several years, Ellie’s has created prim little boxes with high-quality cookies and brightly colored confections. The family-friendly joys alone would be worth the $8. But these kits also serve a good cause: 100 percent of the proceeds benefit Rhode Island families in need. In previous years, Ellie’s has sold more than 3,000 kits, making lots of customers – and under-employed households – full of holiday cheer. You can find the kits at both Ellie’s Bakery and its sister-restaurant, Gracie’s Providence. The kits are also available at Miriam Hospital, where they can double as a get-well gift. Doing good never tasted so sweet. -Robert Isenberg
It all started with a croissant. Not just any croissant – a fresh-baked “buttery wonder” that Brian Leosz grabbed from a boulangerie in France. It was love at first bite, and the young hobbyist-baker-turned-entrepreneur launched Butterbang, a formerly Denver-based wholesale biz that relocated to the East Coast as of October: “[I] saw the opportunity to dive into the growing food scene in Providence,” says Brian.
Butterbang’s concept is simple: A bike cart selling Borealis Coffee and small-batch croissants baked by Brian in his commercial kitchen in Olneyville. The typical batch, Brian says, takes three days to make, and yields three dozen croissants, with combinations as mouthwatering as the Baked Brie (melted brie, onion jam, walnuts, and balsamic reduction).
For now, Butterbang plans to crop up across the city for as far into the winter season as weather allows – so keep an eye out for the cart, and stay up-to-date on Instagram. -Megan Schmit