Revival is an appropriate way to describe Warren’s food scene. With a rapid influx of high quality restaurants around town, Warren has gone from a hidden gem to an established force. It’s fitting then that one of the more recent additions to Warren’s strong lineup goes by that name. The Revival Craft Kitchen and Bar is also just what the doctor ordered on a frigid winter night.
Since my wife had a specific table in mind, I began glancing through the bottle glass divider at its current occupants – a couple of older folks who rightly know how to take their time. The dining area is larger than it looks at first glance, but because it is split into two rooms it feels intimate enough in both. The room is on the darker side, with an industrial color palette and ornamental hanging cage lamps over the bar. As the smells of the kitchen drifted from the far corner of the room through the pass, I became ravenous. The hostess had excellent play by play on the progress, so we happily waited.
The Jefferson’s Bourbon in my Manhattan ($11) fixed whatever hanger I was cultivating. Our server was full of detail about all the dishes and she informed me that the Jefferson’s Bourbon had been aged at sea. It seems new whiskey producers are always looking for an angle to replace the one thing they can’t buy: time. In a beautifully balanced Manhattan like this one, I doubt anyone would have the pretense to argue they could taste the ocean, but you down a couple of these things and you might look like you have sea legs.
Looking around at the other tables, we decided to split something a little light to start. We went with the local Asian Pear Salad ($11.50). Hailing from Westerly this pear really was local, and it held up to cold storing well making for a welcome crisp treat at a time when fresh produce is scarce. Like most of these dishes there was something both thoughtful and very direct in the plating. No wedges here, instead it was simply cored and stuffed with a whipped herbed goat cheese, with a tuft of fresh baby sorrel spilling from the top. It was encircled by pieces of cabbage and prosciutto, drizzled with a sharp vinaigrette and accompanied by a pull of warm pistachio sauce, which made it a really fun dish to eat.
After this writ-large pear, I was not surprised to get my massive Grilled Pork Chop ($28). Served atop a bed of escarole, and next to a cast iron skillet of mac and cheese, the dish was all about big elements, each made attentively. The cider glaze on the pork chop was quite sweet, but considering the size was in proportion. We see a lot of braised chard and wilted spinach as meat bedding nowadays, but it was nice to see the preferred Portuguese complement, escarole, here. It was superb, especially as it soaked some of the resting juices from the chop. Mac and cheese isn’t something I’d normally look for, despite its innumerable more involved treatments over the last decade, but I loved this one. It was really well crafted but quite restrained, defined by two things: a great cheese sauce, and perfectly al dente pasta.
My wife – her years in New England beginning to overcome her pregnancy tastebuds – made a triumphant return to the world of seafood with the East Bay Seafood Stew ($27). This dish was jumping in at the deep end, and it was served in a deep, massive bowl. A tomato and lobster base held huge shrimp, as well as local mussels, monkfish, calamari and more. Because there’s a baby where her stomach should be, we made dinner the next day out of the leftovers from this dish (as a sauce over linguini) and were happy both times. The stew had the slightest amount of heat to it, and it really was a stew, less about being challenging and more about all the flavors melding into one soothing note.
To finish, a dessert. Billed as a Crostata ($9), this defied categorization but not my ability to eat sweets on a full stomach. It had a texture halfway from crostata to cookie, but with a custardy ambrosia filling, as well as a huge scoop of ice-cream on top. This was a sugar rush and I wanted a couple more of the few strawberries punctuating it, but it had fantastic texture. As our meal finally drew to a close, I knew what had slowed down the people we were waiting for to get table. Cattycornered in this booth, with the cold outside and a center of gravity to match my wife in the third trimester, I was not so interested in leaving either.
The Revival Craft Kitchen and Bar
50 Miller Street, Warren