DownCity – Providence, Rhode Island’s Ultimate Gay & Lesbian Friendly Restaurant & Lounge!
DownCity / 50 Weybosset Street / Providence, RI 02903 / (401)-331-9217
The Ultimate Gay & Lesbian Stop When in Providence, Rhode Island!
Abby Cabral, general manager and co-owner of DownCity in Providence, is extremely cute, feisty, stylish, friendly, approachable, sassy, instantly likeable and just down right — cool. Much like DownCity itself, which she considers her “child”. Good genes must run in the family because her other “children”, the DownCity staff, possess all these qualities as well.
DownCity has been receiving lots of press lately, thanks to it being featured on Chef Ramsay’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’.
DownCity owners Abby Cabral and Rico Conforti (center and left) and executive chef James M. Bjurman took part in the restaurant makeover. The Providence Journal / Bob Thayer
Abby and co-owner, Rico Conforti, applied for the show hoping to gain publicity and gain Ramsay’s expert guidance.
“If I was going to get someone’s opinion, I wanted to go right to the top,” Cabral says in a recent interview with The Providence Journal. ”Why not go on national television and make a fool out of yourself?”
This is my kind of woman.
However, dear Abby (sorry, had to), you did not make a fool out of yourself! Oh, contraire. You actually gained my respect, as I am sure the respect of thousands of viewers, when you put Ramsey “in his place” and, from what I read, (tee-hee) kicked him out of the restaurant 17 minutes into taping the show. That is just pure awesomeness.
Abby, tired and not feeling very well, was kind enough to sit down for a quick impromptu interview upon our arrival at DownCity Wednesday evening.
One of the first things I told Abby was that I LOVED the old meatloaf (later I would come to love the NEW Chef Ramsay inspired, bacon-wrapped, meatloaf as well). She smiled like a mother who had been told her child received an A+ on a school report.
Abby explained how business was fantastic back in 2007 and 2008 but the economy took a major toll on the restaurant in 2009, something we can all relate to.
She and co-owner, Rico Conforti, reached out to the producers of Kitchen Nightmares in hopes of gaining some publicity and advice. They were excited when DownCity had been chosen!
Cabral explained how there really wasn’t much interaction with Chef Ramsay outside of filming and how hard it was being told that your “life’s work” was a disaster. She said it was like “Being told your child is ugly, you take offense!” Abby admits it was hard to hear, but she is grateful for the experience as business has increased since the show aired and things seem to be going much better.
Abby took my partner Melanie and I on a tour of the lovely, upstairs mezzanine area that is perfect for special events such as parties, weddings, anniversaries etc.,. It can fit up to 100 people (tight squeeze), however, 50-75 people is the norm. She said the space is quite popular and there is usually a party every 2 weeks or so.
Everything about DownCity’s decor is stylish. I love the warm tones of orange, white and black mixed with brick. The lighting is soft and soothing with natural light shining through the huge windows up front.
There is a beautiful, long bar with a large television. The bar was hopping with the after-work crowd when we were there, around 6:00pm.
Music was also a treat with everything from Dean Martin to ambient-type instrumental music playing.
And let me just say, I love, love, LOVE the waiters & waitresses uniforms which consist of black pants and shirts splashed with orange ties and belts. Again, just plain - cool.
The bathroom was also another treat with flat, glass sinks and frosted doors that read “EITHER / OR” — love it!
There is an open kitchen, which provides customers with great views of the chefs hard at work.
Yes, this restaurant has it going on.
I am a firm believer that ambiance is just as important as the food itself.
But let’s talk food, shall we?
APPETIZER: Melanie and I chose the Goat Cheese Truffle Dip with house made potato chips, which turned out to be an excellent choice. The goat cheese dip comes out piping hot and golden brown on top, with a large amount of chips. The perfect appetizer to share. It was savory and smooth and devoured in record speed!
ENTREES: I, of course, had to try Chef Ramsay’s inspired Bacon Wrapped Angus Meatloaf, since I was a fan of DownCity’s original meatloaf. It did NOT disappoint! The bacon added the perfect saltiness to the flavor of the Angus meat. It was moist on the inside and crisped to perfection on the outside. It is served with creamy mashed potatoes and buttery green beans. To-die-for-good.
Melanie ordered the Pan Seared Chicken Breast with cous cous, dried cranberries, pecans and green beans. The chicken melted in your mouth and the cous cous had a perfect balance of woody nut flavor and sweetness. It was a great compliment to the chicken.
DESSERT: Even though we finished every last bite of our meal, we still saved room to share a dessert. We chose the Root Beer Float with chocolate chip pecan cookies. This was such a treat! The dessert was served in a tall, thin, glass with two straws and two delectable cookies on a plate. Mel and I had no shame as we took turns passing the cup back and forth, wondering who would score more (Mel won..lol). It was absolutely delicious and refreshing.
What a dining experience.
You can find the entire dinner menu HERE, including the reasonable prices.
GOOD TO KNOW:
- DownCity offers FREE valet parking on Friday and Saturday nights as well as Thursday evenings during PPAC shows.
- DJ and dancing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
- Every Friday night they have DJ Andy Morris spinning international beats at 10:00pm. There is never a cover charge.
- The lounge is open until 1:00am Sunday-Thursday and 2:00am Friday-Saturday.
- DownCity is home to award winning brunch served every Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm AND the INFAMOUS DRAG BRUNCH, every 3rd Sunday of the month.
- DownCity is walking distance to PPAC and a great place to dine before and after the show.
- Every Wednesday is WINESDAY. All bottles of wine are 1/2 price!
- DownCity’s mezzanine is perfect for any type party! Reserve for fundraisers, bridal shows, baby showers, rehearsal dinners, office parties, birthday parties, and holiday parties.
Gay & Lesbian Factor: I can’t stress enough how LUCKY we Rhode Islanders (and New Englanders for that matter) are to have a place like DownCity to call our own. DownCity is VERY important to the LGBT community here in Providence. The LGBT factor is a 10 out of 10. There were lots of gay men and lesbians at the restaurant when my partner and I were there. It is a wonderful place for a fun night out, romantic dinner, quick drink, dancing and socializing. Rhode Islander’s need to support this amazing business that Abby Cabral and Rico Conforti are running and it should be a MUST STOP for gays & lesbians traveling to Rhode Island.
- Lunch (Monday-Saturday) 11:30am-3:00pm
- Dinner (Sunday-Thursday) 5:00pm-10:00pm
- Brunch (Sunday) 10:00am-4:00pm
- Sunday-Thursday (1:00am)
- Friday & Saturday (2:00am)
- Watch the DownCity episode of Kitchen Nightmares HERE.
- Watch DownCity extra’s with Chef Ramsay, including an interview, HERE.
There is absolutely NO EXCUSE not to visit DownCity. It is one of thee best dining experiences in Providence. For those of you who have heeded the call and are DownCity groupies, bravo!
For those of you who have yet to visit, allow me to paint one last picture.
The colors on my palate are orange, white and black, oh hell, just throw in the entire rainbow!
It is a modern, hip, stylish, restaurant born out of love and devotion.
It is warm, inviting, comforting and friendly.
It is delicious food at reasonable prices.
DownCity translated means “ABBY CABRAL”, the vivacious “mother” who expects the best from her “children“.
She must be very, very proud.
I know we are.
I am hearby “OUTING” DownCity as the ULTIMATE place for Gays & Lesbians in Providence, RI.