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On a recent weeknight, the red and gold marquee lights from the performing arts center nearby glistened through the front window of Ellie’s, a French-inspired café on the corner of a busy street in Providence. Inside, soft music played over the sound of ice cubes jigging in a metal shaker by the bar.
Finally, Ellie’s is open to the public at a time it hasn’t been in a while: the evenings.
Ellie’s used to serve an entire dinner menu of dishes like steak frites with bordelaise or baked chèvre with pear confit. But that was the Before Times. Post-pandemic, it serves breakfast, brunch and lunch, but its evening offerings have changed to focus on desserts.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights starting at 6 p.m., the back of house crew under executive pastry chef Kerri Spady offers “Dessert Le Bar”: seasonal confections, cocktails, and coffee.
The bistro is famously led by Gracie’s restaurant proprietor Ellen Slattery and might someday serve a regular dinner menu again. But right now, as Ellie’s front of house manager Samara Wald pointed out to me, other than the (very few) chain restaurants around, there aren’t many places to grab a slice of cake at night.
From an operator’s perspective, it’s coming at an ideal time. Unique experiences like dessert bars and tea parties, plant-based sweets, and other treats were trendy in the second half of 2022. Coming out of the pandemic, dessert is being treated less like an afterthought and more like the main event.
Basically, we’re all ready to indulge.
At Ellie’s, Spady will create seasonal offerings — so expect another rendition of the menu soon. Right now, they have items like the milk chocolate hazelnut pot de crème, a rich custard with toasted hazelnuts, rolled chocolate shavings, and cocoa nibs; vanilla crème caramel; espresso-soaked chocolate cake with a mocha buttercream; earl grey oat milk-soaked cake with lemon curd; and a champagne-soaked vanilla cake with layers of raspberry rose jam. You can buy a slice for $8, or an entire cake for $38.
And then there are the cocktails: The traditional French 75 gets a chamomile-infused makeover. The Manhattan is smoother, a combination of vanilla, maple, brown sugar, and smoked cinnamon with barrel-aged whiskey. Espresso martinis, which have continued their resurgence from the 1990s just about everywhere, are a given. Craft cocktails are named after gemstones.
Slattery works with New Harvest for their coffee blend, which is made especially special for the bistro using beans from Guatemala and Brazil. The medium roast has a sweet and silky finish that has notes of apricot, dark chocolate, and walnuts. And yes, takeout cups of coffee are being offered, too.
I’ve complained year after year about the lack of late-night coffee shops in downtown Providence. This might just fit the bill.
Ellie’s is located at 225 Weybosset Street in Providence, Rhode Island. They are open Wednesdays through Sundays for from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dessert Le Bar will be available Thursdays through Saturdays from 6 p.m. until close — which is around 10 p.m. Updates are posted on Instagram. 401-563-3333. elliesprov.com.
Alexa Gagosz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.