I’ve been holding out on sharing this review of Eli’s Kitchen for two reasons. The first is that I wanted to make sure I had enough photos to capture some of the wonderful food. The second is that I wasn’t sure I wanted the word to get out about how incredible this little restaurant actually is in order to keep it from getting mobbed! My wife and I have been eating at Eli’s for a few years now and it may very well be one of our favorite restaurants in Rhode Island. Please note that the rough pictures don’t do this restaurant any justice.
40 Market St.
Warren, RI 02885
Service and Atmosphere
Eli’s kitchen is tucked away in Warren, RI and while some consider RI a small state, there are plenty of Rhode Islanders and people from Massachusetts that don’t get out to Warren much. From the outside, Eli’s looks like any other small town restaurant and the unpretentious interior with its warm tones, close seating, and open kitchen don’t let on right away that there is magic happening inside. They don’t take reservations, but somehow, the wait is never really all that long if you go on a busy night.
Whether you’re seated at a table or at the bar in front of the open kitchen watching the talented chefs work, the service at Eli’s is friendly and the atmosphere inviting. Ask the servers for recommendations and you can see their eyes light up as memories of tasting the restaurant’s dishes race through their minds. Take their suggestions or strike out on your own path through the menu because there’s no wrong choice. Both options will leave you wholly satisfied with your meal.
The food is of course where every restaurant shows its true colors and Eli’s delivers where it counts. Practically everything I’ve tried at Eli’s is either a masterful take on American or ethnic comfort foods or just a solid take on a classic. The menu changes frequently, so some of the dishes in this review might not be there anymore or they might return some time in the future. Below is only a small sampling of foods I’ve tried there.
Crab and Dill Beignets – Arguably, this small plate appetizer is in the top two for the most delicious item on the Eli’s Kitchen menu. These perfectly fried and golden beignets are stuffed with a generous portion of real crab meat! Although they are fried, the beignets aren’t heavy like a RI-style clam cake or even as rich as a french-style doughnut (beignet). Instead, they’re actually relatively light for such a flavor-packed dish. The light tartar sauce that accompanies the beignets acts like the perfect accompaniment to augment the flavors without overpowering them.
Hummus and Homemade Chips – Eli’s version of the bread basket is a small plate of hummus with homemade tortilla chips. The chips are great and provide a nice crunchy accompaniment to the hummus. While the hummus is pretty good, I personally find it a little more bland than what I normally prefer. That’s just my taste, but the hummus texture itself is smooth and balanced.
Buttermilk Chicken Slider – Place some fried chicken with pickle on a biscuit and you’ve got the makings of a fantastic snack. Put those ingredients in the hands of the Eli’s kitchen chefs and you end up with a dense, Southern-inspired sandwich that gets better with every bite! I split one slider with my wife and thought that even if I could have eaten a whole one myself, half was just right as to not ruin my appetite for the main course.
Falafel – I keep saying it, but it is just mind-bogglingly difficult to find good falafel out in the world. There are so few restaurants that know how to make this traditional Middle Eastern classic properly. Oddly enough, Eli’s does a really good job of executing a unique yet still somewhat traditional take on falafel. The oblong egg shape of the falafel is already different from the usual circular shape of traditional falafel, but the spiced chickpea mixture mixed with herbs that makes up the falafel had all of the right flavors. The crispy outside contrasted properly with the softer inside and the cool tzatziki sauce contributes another layer of complexity to the complementary flavors.
Eli’s Kitchen Meatloaf with Cauliflower – The first entree I ever ate at Eli’s was their meatloaf. It’s a decadent blend of sausage, beef, oats, and bacon that left me surprised with every bite. It doesn’t taste like the usual meatloaf, but instead it hints at the qualities of a tender grilled burger with bacon. The side is usually a seasonal vegetable and in my case it was cauliflower. Even though the cauliflower wasn’t bad, I felt it was a little bland and didn’t offer too much to the plate. I did thoroughly enjoy the rich mashed potatoes and took every opportunity to scoop up a bite of meatloaf and gravy with the potatoes.
Shrimp and Grits – If you only eat one thing at Eli’s Kitchen or one thing in Warren, RI, it should be the Shrimp and Grits. No matter what explanation I give for this dish, please just believe me that it’s better than anything I can describe. From the delightfully char-grilled shrimp to the buttery grits flecked with chunks of ham and bacon, this dish is a Southern-inspired masterpiece of expertly combined flavors. Even the pea-greens heaped on top of the dish just add a satisfying green crunchy texture. After trying this, I find it painfully difficult to order anything else when I go to Eli’s. I find myself wanting to try other entrees, but knowing that I’ll feel like I missed my chance to score another bite of perfection!
Sweet Potato Pie – Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t particularly care for sweet potatoes in most forms. Nonetheless, Eli’s Kitchen made me a believer in sweet potatoes as pie. So much so, that I have since considered that I may enjoy good sweet potato pie even more than pumpkin pie! Yes, I said it! The sweet potato pie at Eli’s (if and when they offer it on the menu), is in the top three of my favorite items offered by this wonderful restaurant. The pie is creamy, smooth, rich, and full of perfectly balanced pie spices. It is topped with a loosely whipped cream that drapes itself over the pie like a velvety blanket. This pie is simply stunning and I truly hope it returns to Eli’s.
Eli’s Kitchen offers unique takes on American, Middle Eastern, and even Indian comfort foods. The eclectic menu not only offers variety, but displays how any truly talented chef can execute that variety in a way that will satisfy almost any patron. Eli’s is a hidden gem in Warren, RI that I would highly recommend as one of the best restaurants in Rhode Island.
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