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Repost – Dining Review of Metacom Kitchen in Warren, Rhode Island

IMG_1316Last weekend we managed to get three busy couple’s schedules to coincide for a few hours and we got together with some friends at Metacom Kitchen in Warren, RI.  The restaurant has only been open here for about seven months, after converting the building from what had been a pub into a fine dining establishment.  It’s located a little off the beaten track on a one way road, but there is a small parking lot right across the street which helps tremendously.  When you get there you’ll see a rather unobtrusive, low, single story building.  The entire impression changes when you walk in, much to the better.

Inside, the building has been completely redone, and is modern, calming and sleek.  It is a long and more narrow

Looking front to back

Looking front to back

space, running from reception and tables in the front through the dining room, to the bar on

The back kitchen seating area

The back kitchen seating area

the back right and the open kitchen in the very back of the restaurant.  That is where Chef Richard Allaire holds court and spins his magic.  Richard and his wife also designed the space, and picked out every aspect of the decor.

We got there early, so I had a chance to go back and talk a bit with Chef Richard, whose previous gigs include Radius in Boston and Tucker’s Bistro in Newport, among others.   He describes his style as sort of a modern French and American mix, with a focus on dishes which may look simple but which are in fact full of complex flavors.  A great example is the butter which comes with the house bread.  Shaped

Not your average butter

Not your average butter

like little mailboxes, these look rather pedestrian, but in fact contain sea salt, red wine vinegar, garlic, onion, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper.  There is some butter as well!  The result is exactly what Richard had described, a simple looking element which carried very complex flavors.

The pork tonnato

The pork tonnato

The menu here is limited, and we always say better to do that well than an expansive menu poorly.  There were specials also, and that is the norm.  On this night the group tried several specials, including the pork tonnato appetizer, the duck breast entree and the Bream (or Scup), a local white fish.

The tonnato was delicious, with flavors that ran true to the more traditional vitello tonnato you might be familiar with.  There was no canned tuna on this however.  The thin sliced pork was very tender, while the capers were dehydrated and then lightly fried, which is very different.  It all worked beautifully.  Other appetizers ordered were the oysters on the half shell and the chickpea fires.  The fries were also very unusual, sticks of deep fried chickpea with a tangy sauce.  They were quite good and represent an interesting and healthier alternative to traditional fries.

The Bream entree was well done, prepared by Richard with either the skin on or off.  Other entrees we sampled

Hangar steak

Hangar steak

included the aforementioned duck breast, accompanied with a leg confit.  This was perfectly cooked, tender and fully rendered.  My hanger steak was also well cooked, accompanied by a complex mix of shallots, braised lettuce, oyster mushrooms and Bearnaise potato puffs, with a rich Bordelaise peppercorn sauce.  Once again, here are complex flavors which all worked together in perfect harmony.  The house burger was also ordered by one of our party and declared delicious, served with the signature chickpea fries.

Chickpea fries

Chickpea fries

The dessert list is short, with the basics represented.  I went even more basic, and off menu,  ordering a small dish of vanilla ice cream with my tawny port and coffee.  It was a great way to cap off the flavorful meal.

On the wine side the list is also a bit short, but there are most of the popular varietals as well as some refreshingly unusual choices.  You can get  Gruner Veltliner (crisp white from Austria) or a Barbera (Piemonte red wine), as well as other good choices.  We brought two bottles, and Metacom Kitchen will allow that, charging a $20 corkage fee.  This is still a good deal if you have a special bottle of wine you’d like to open.  We had a Premier Cru Burgundy from 2010 and a 2011 Mt. Brave Napa Valley Cabernet.  Both were pretty outstanding.  We’ll do a separate review of the Mt. Brave wine and the winery in the future.

Metacom Kitchen is all about the food.  Chef Richard is doing pretty great things there, as we enjoyed everything presented throughout the evening.  He is reaching his goal of simple yet complex, making this restaurant well worth the trip if you are anywhere close to Warren.   One note to keep in mind is that on a busy night it can get a bit loud inside the restaurant, and it is more of a bistro atmosphere.  Our wallet is out.

A votre sante!

The particulars:  website @ http://www.metacomkitchen.com/

Metacom Kitchen

322 Metacom Avenue

Warren, RI  02885

(401) 245-1193
Metacom Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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