Southern-Inspired New American Comes to Federal Hill

Whether it’s chicken and waffles or calamari, Saje Kitchen serves up flavorful twists on favorites

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I needed to try the Brussels sprouts. When it comes to the culinary world, Instagram is my guiding light for new places to eat and the Brussels on the Saje Kitchen Insta were beckoning. So off to Federal Hill I went. Yup, Federal Hill, Providence’s Little Italy where I’ve set sail with the spaghetti, battened down the hatches with the bucatini, shivered me timbers with tortellini – and loved every minute. And now Saje Kitchen has entered the picture, whipping a spicy Southern splash of New American onto Atwells Avenue.

IMHO Saje Kitchen is clearly catering to the casual diner looking for a hip but lowkey atmosphere with a seriously innovative menu. The subtle, dusky nightclub vibe is perfect for chilling out, and their varied menu is built for ordering course after course. But first, Brussels sprouts. They were smoked with fresh apple, caramelized onion and creme fraiche – a different flavor palette than I’d expected – and it was delicious. The apple was julienned, and the sweetness worked perfectly with the cream and smokey sprouts.

I was also on a hunt for the unique and found it with the Crispy Calamari. I love traditional Rhode Island style with garlic butter and cherry peppers, but Saje Kitchen’s take blew me away. The pile of fried crunchy squid was served with a hot pepper jam, fresh herbs, and a sweet, thick, citrusy sauce on the plate that was a lap-it-up-incredible addition.

The Mac and Cheese is simply top-notch: cavatelli pasta with an excellent blend of light sweetness and bitter notes in their thick, gooey four-cheese blend. The Tuna Tartare is served with a monster-sized rice chip on top, pepper mash, buttermilk, and benne seeds. The Lobster Deviled Eggs are a light seafood-and-farmyard combo with a lemon brioche crumble. The addition of lobster serves as a welcome but artful change to the sinful appetizer.

Long story short, everything on the small plates’ menu at Saje Kitchen is thoughtful and well-executed. From the Chicken Skewers with Alabama white barbecue sauce to the Thrice Fried Wings with sweet potato caramel (yes, sweet potato caramel), you will not be disappointed with the appetizers at Saje Kitchen.

Along with the Brussels sprouts and everything else, I admittedly couldn’t wait to try a certain dish. Though the menu is filled with creole spices, po’ boys, cajun fries, grits, and remoulade, Chicken and Waffles were my Southern draw. Served with a chili maple crunch, bourbon barrel-aged brown sugar butter, and maple syrup, they are the star of the show. The salty butter, the saccharine maple, the flake of the waffle, the crunch of the fried chicken skin – they’re everything you want them to be.

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