Farm to Fork

Eli's Kitchen In Warren Already Feels Like Home

By Johnette Rodriguez / Photography By Rupert Whiteley | September 01, 2014
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Eli Dunn of Eli's Kitchen
Chef/owner Eli Dunn.

Those food fans who’ve followed Eli Dunn’s cooking career, starting when he could barely see over the counter at his mom’s restaurant—Phoebe’s, in Seekonk—and then when he cooked at Bristol’s Beehive Café for five years, have been thrilled to find him settled into his own place in Warren: Eli’s Kitchen.

It’s a homey spot from the get-go, with Eli’s dad building the banquettes; bare wood tables custom-made by O & G Studio in Warren; local artists on the walls and fresh table flowers picked daily by Eli’s mom and aunt.

There are two-tops along the banquette; two family-sized tables up front; barstools along a counter looking into the kitchen; and a community table that seats eight and provides fascinating pickup parties among the strangers gathered there.

Thai Curry, Flatbread, House Pickles, Half and Half from Eli's Kitchen
Clockwise from bottom: Yellow Thai Curry; Falafel Flatbread with Heirloom Tomatoes; House pickles; Half & Half (rosemint iced tea and lavender lemonade); Photo courtesy of RJWPhoto.com

On our first visit, we spoke with older fans of Eli’s, who were savoring a Friday night order of “Phoebe’s fish and chips” (it had been a specialty there) and a giant lobster roll—it was their sixth visit in a month! We also chatted with another local restaurateur who was enjoying the shrimp and grits, and with two friends who were chowing down on the short ribs Vietnamese style and the warm kale and mushroom salad with shaved fennel and grated Parmesan.

Dunn himself (newly wed and expecting a child) is thrilled that his idea of the community table is working and that he has such reliable staff: “This has been a dream of mine, and I have such great backup. I wanted people to feel like it’s a community, and that’s happening!”

He mentioned that customers’ favorite dishes so far are the crab and dill beignets, the sweet chili cauliflower and the carnitas. His menu is heavily influenced by Thai, Mexican, Cajun, Creole and New American cuisines, with a bit of Middle Eastern and Indian thrown in. Dunn is emphatic about using local farms, fishermen and food producers and about creating his food from scratch, including house-churned butter!

We’d heard great things about Eli’s brunch, and it all proved true: A special of smoked chicken hash with red onion, corn kernels, queso fresco and fresh basil filled the bill for my companion, and I enjoyed the porcini gravy over a large buttermilk biscuit and hominy grits, with house-smoked tasso ham on the side. Plus, we had great gab with the couple next to us, Warren locals, already Eli’s regulars. A community indeed

ElisKitchenWarren.com | 401.245.1809

Article from Edible Rhody at http://ediblerhody.ediblecommunities.com/eat/elis-kitchen-warren-already-feels-home
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