Date nights are precious and tend to become more infrequent the older people get, which coincides with taking on more responsibilities. As a result, it’s especially important to make those times count whether it’s a date night or just some free time out with friends. That’s why it hurts so much when that time is wasted on a disappointing restaurant. Luckily, Bywater delivered on not only great food, but also a wonderful first-time experience worthy of that precious time out.
54 State St.
Warren, RI 02885
Service and Atmosphere
Bywater is located on a quaint small street in Warren, RI located near the waterfront (perhaps the reason for the name, “by water?”). The purposefully worn wood-plank sign carries the name of the restaurant over the door and gives a great representation of the forthcoming dining experience, which is essentially a finely crafted rustic quality. The interior is small with a few tables lining the walls as well as a bar area. The decor is simple, yet warm and modern with pastoral wood touches. The hosts and servers are all incredibly friendly and knowledgeable about the somewhat small, yet frequently changing menu if you need help deciding between some of the delicious offerings or house-crafted cocktails.
Before deciding to go to Bywater, my wife and I peeked at the online menu and noted its concise nature. The one page menu didn’t showcase a lot of items, but the ones described all sounded interesting enough to pique our interest. Unfortunately, the online menu isn’t up to date with what is actually offered in the restaurant as it changes “daily.” So, we had a sense of what to expect although the menu we experienced carried almost completely different entrees. Everything we tried was not only fantastic, but inspired us to mimic the recipes at home the following week!
Cocktails – We started our meal with two cocktails. One, had a citrus base and used gin while the other sported blackberries and port wine. Both drinks were excellent and suited different taste preferences. The bartender at Bywater, as far as I can tell, is very skilled and creative.
House Made Pickles – As a lover of pickles, I couldn’t resist ordering the house pickles. I especially enjoy trying different takes on homemade pickling and Bywater delivered different flavors through a variety of vegetables. There were cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, onions, and snap peas. The cucumbers were the sweetest, but not overly so. This was also the first time I had pickled snap peas and I must say that I was blown away. They were easily my favorite, followed by the pickled sweet onions.
Asparagus – I’ll admit I was skeptical about ordering the asparagus. I’m often skeptical of ordering seemingly simple vegetable dishes as an appetizer because so often a chef simply decorates a plate to look pretty, but the flavors aren’t all that innovative. Thankfully, my wife convinced me otherwise and we ordered this fantastic dish. In fact, it may very well be the best asparagus preparation I’ve ever had. It consisted of grilled and lightly charred asparagus served with a delectable aioli sauce with ramps and maybe capers(?). I can’t remember all of the ingredients, but I do remember that my wife and I grilled asparagus about 3 times that following week served with our own version of aioli just so we could experience something similar again!
Steamed Littlenecks – The key to steamed littleneck clams or mussels is to keep things simple. The clams speak for themselves and Bywater understands that. They perfectly steam the clams so that they’re wonderfully juicy and tender. The liquid from the clams is preserved as a very simple herb-spiced broth served with the clams and two pieces of toasted bread for dipping. The simplicity of the broth is what makes it so great and perfect. The dish retains all of the clam flavor highlighted by the herbs rather than overshadowed by them. Delicious.
Grilled Chicken Salad – Once again, I foolishly doubted my wife’s order of a seemingly boring grilled chicken salad. To my chagrin, her salad tasted incredible! The chicken was charred yet tender and served over charred romaine lettuce that wasn’t soggy at all. It doesn’t sound like much, but charring romaine lettuce without wilting it too much is actually a skill. The dressed onions added some sweet tanginess to the plate and the thoroughly crispy potato curls on top of the salad really added a nice crunch. I was impressed by how Bywater executed such a simple idea as a grilled chicken salad in an innovative way.
Orecchiette Pasta Carbonara – I loved this dish. However, let me just say that I almost never order pasta out at restaurants and that’s because the vast majority of the time the offerings are something any person with a little skill could make at home. Even worse is when a restaurant dares to serve a dish that is literally just pasta and red sauce. My wife, for example, still makes the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had, so when I go out I don’t bother with them. Nonetheless, on this evening, I saw the pasta on the menu and it just spoke to me. The little curved orecchiette pasta swam in a creamy, traditional egg-based sauce with cheese, small veggies, and bacon. Every bite was as good as the first and I was so happy to try a pasta dish that didn’t leave me filled with order regret.
Bywater is just a wonderful little restaurant located in a picturesquely quaint part of Warren, RI. The atmosphere is really comfortable with a combination of modern and rustic touches. The service is efficient, friendly, and eager to make your night successful. Most importantly, the food is all fantastic from the simplest appetizers to the masterfully prepared and innovative takes on homestyle comfort food entrees.
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