Your February Food News

Dainty desserts at R Space, Avenue N comes to Hope Street, first-ever RI VegFest


The recently opened R Space simultaneously serves as retail space, dessert cafe, and living portfolio of freelance interior architect and RISD student Xiaohai Zhou. The downtown patisserie is minimal and modern, a reflection of Zhou’s fixation on the delicate balance between architectural form and function.

Inside the pastel painted, French-inspired eatery,  find mousse-based desserts and handcrafted tea beverages like Thai Iced Tea and Brown Sugar Pearl Milk, plus colorful sparkling drinks topped with fruit and flowers. Dip your spoon into flavors like Oolong Peach, Blood Orange, and Lavender Mousse – though you might be tempted not to, as the thoughtfully plated desserts (which take two days to create!) are predicated on the same dedication to visual art as the rest of R Space – almost too pretty to eat. Keep an eye out for their Valentine’s Day specials, which are sure to be sweet! -Gina Mastrostefano

Almost a decade ago, Avenue N opened its doors adjacent to the Rumford Center Lofts in the former Rumford Baking Powder Mill, the perfect setting for the contemporary bistro. Owners Tracy and Nick Rabar describe the restaurant as “a lively mix of city sophistication and small-town warmth.” And, as of January, they’ve planted themselves in the heart of the East Side.

The second Avenue N inhabits the former Cook & Brown, which closed its doors in late 2018. The Providence menu consists of staples like their signature Brussels sprouts, pizzas, burgers, chicken, and scallops, as well as some seasonal changes. Plus, the restaurant features a small retail area offering the 100 percent locally made products that are the cornerstone of their sister business The Pantry (located next door to their restaurant in Rumford). -Gina Mastrostefano

Introducing RI VegFest – the “first-ever exhibition of vendors, nonprofit organizations, restaurants, bars, cookbook authors, local vegan celebs, and more” in Rhode Island, and “committed to bringing the idea of a plant-based lifestyle to the broader food community,” according to founding partner Jim Nellis, of RI FOOD FIGHTS.

“RI VegFest is Robin Dionne’s passion project,” says Nellis. “We met six years ago working on TEDxPVD and have been conceptualizing this event ever since.” Presenting partners include The Grange, Garden Grille, and Wildflour Vegan Bakery, as well as sponsors Plant City, The Dorrance, Julian’s, and New Harvest Coffee Roasters.

Nellis plans on using RI FOOD FIGHTS’ monster social media presence to help the cause. “The vegan business community is preaching to the choir within the vegan community. Our fanbase is everyone else.”

RI VegFest will take place on February 23 from 12-4pm in the WaterFire Arts Center. -Chuck Staton


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