Restaurant Review: Vintage, Woonsocket, RI

I think its impossible for a restaurant to be perfect. It's the nature of the beast. We recently checked out a restaurant in Woonsocket, RI (of all places!) that came a darn bit closer than I've experienced recently but like so many, fell apart at the entrees.
Vintage is a converted warehouse, hip, cool, new, pre-real estate bust kind of place. The decor is not notable except for being comfortable and having generously spaced tables so one isn't sitting on top of one's neighbors, something my DH especially appreciates. Its all buffed copper, soft colors and discreet lighting. Fake candles seemed a bit silly, but there's a recession on after all...
The menu features a whole bunch of frilly 'martini' drinks including one with frozen wild maine blueberries floating in it that our table mate enjoyed very much. My Beefeater martini was nothing short of perfect. Icy cold, kinda dry (how I ordered it) but not glass of gin, with five crispy unstuffed manzanilla olives floating happily in the brew, predisposed me to enjoying Vintage very much.
Fresh Italian bread was served with an olive oil dipping sauce of tasty roasted garlic cloves, parmesan and red pepper flakes.
Salads of spinach, arugula, and wine poached pears were topped with a generous warm round of goat cheese encrusted in pecans. The chef, most gratifyingly, avoided the temptation to ruin the whole thing with the dreaded balsamic vinegar reduction and opted instead for a gentler wine vinaigrette that worked really well on the salad.
For an appetizer, we shared the Sashimi deluxe which consisted of three slices of three different cuts of tuna and three pieces of salmon, I wished this was a bit more varied, but the freshness of the fish was impeccable. Normally, I am quite skeptical of non-sushi restaurants that add a sushi menu, it can feel contrived and out of place, but at Vintage it all kinda works.
For dinner, we had two orders of vanilla-seared scallops with "Mediterranean Couscous". While the scallops were delicious, the cold couscous struck a strange note. This side needs to be re-considered. Israeli Couscous is not good cold and the mixed-in, nearly raw red peppers don't mate well with the subtle vanilla-y sweetness of the scallops.
I was intrigued by the wasabi-pea crusted tuna. The fish was good, the wasabi pea crust was zingy and tasty. The only off-note on the fish was that sometimes, in a bag of wasabi peas, there can be very hard, inedible ones. These appeared on the tuna more than once, were annoying and hurt my teeth. Unless Vintage can find wasabi peas without the nasty ones, or make their own, this dish is doomed. The side of "Shoyu snap pea rissoto (sic)" was inedible. This was rice soaked in soy sauce with three wildly overcooked snow peas, a complete and total mistake.
A grilled salmon piccata with creamy risotto and summer vegetables lived up to its description. With a deftly cooked generous portion of salmon in an interesting sauce and sides that were a positive complement to the fish, this was the only home-run at our table.
All the entrees are topped with a bit of watercress which could have been quite tasty, but, perhaps because it was the end of the evening, we got the saddest, most abused looking bits of green I've ever seen. This stuff was suitable for feeding a turtle, maybe. I'd much preferred they skip it altogether.
For dessert, we shared a key lime cheesecake, a strawberry napoleon and a warm "Malted" chocolate cake. The cheesecake was tasty but initially came on dirty plate with visible fingerprints and something clinging to the bottom, the Napoleon was quite good and the MOLTEN chocolate cake very very good. All were topped with a luscious, presumably house-made vanilla bean whipped cream which they ought to consider serving in a bowl by itself with a spoon.
Service at Vintage was great. Our waitress was pleasant, prompt, un-intrusive and efficient. She dealt with and dispatched any complaints graciously and immediately. My only tiny concern was that our busboy had his hand wrapped in a rather nasty looking bandage. A clean dressing or even a glove over this was necessity and a metaphor for the place overall. They are getting most things right but need to work a bit at the small details that make an average dinner a memorable occasion.
Vintage is certainly worth your time, but I might stay away from entrees and stick to the appetizers and salads.

$$$ ***

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