One of the wonderful things about Rhode Island is that new restaurants pop up to fill empty spaces and that amazing chefs find their way home again. East Bay born-and-bred Brown grad Joe Simone has cooked his way around the country, and he was a featured chef on the PBS series, The Chefs of Cucina Amore, in the late ’90s. Thus, he gives the Sunnyside, his breakfast-and-lunch place on the Warren River, the subtitle of “Daytime Dining” and he means it.
THE SUNNYSIDE | 401.247.1200 | Thesunnysideri.com| 267 Water St, Warren
Wed-Fri, 8 Am-2 Pm; Sat-Sun, 7 Am-2 Am | Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Access
One look at the menu and you know you’re in the hands of someone who has chosen his favorite dishes to recreate for the hometown crowd, though he is also winning fans who will actually cross bridges to get to his brunch. Crockpot grits with wood-grilled ham and eggs? Grilled flank steak with eggs under Hollandaise? Banana and macadamia nut pancakes with Vermont maple syrup?
Need I say that our decision-making was complicated? But our 20-minute wait for a table gave us plenty of time to study the menu and to ask for recommendations from another waiting couple. They’re Sunnyside regulars, and she’s a New Orleans native, so their praise of the spicy codfish cakes and the pulled pork sandwiches rang true.
So did the endorsement from the couple next to us in the dining room, who eat out almost every day because they run their own business, and who find themselves returning repeatedly to the Sunnyside.
After our own brunch experience, I could imagine coming here for breakfast, lunch, and brunch, given time, money, and proximity. Then I could just eat my way through the menu, without missing something like the baked eggs with crushed tomatoes, four cheeses, and homemade Italian sausage; or the carrot, ginger, chile bisque; or the root beer or orange crush floats; or the brine-cured boneless chicken thighs, grilled with a spinach salad.
Sigh. What’s a reviewer to do? Just order as much as she and her foodie partner can consume (or pack for future consumption); eat slowly and enjoy the whole gestalt of the Sunnyside. First there’s the cheerful waitresses — ours was Katherine (also an East Bayer). Then there’s the range of folks enjoying the brunch, from a daughter with her elderly parents to young families with kids in booster seats to long-married pairs like ourselves, out for a Sunday excursion.
But mostly, as I lifted my eyes from the menu for a moment, I took in the light that pours in from three directions, as if you’re on the porch of a giant beach cottage. New England-style paned windows wrap around two sides; open beams and wainscoting are painted white; beach paintings hang in the foyer; and the view at the far end of the dining space is of sparkling water (on a sunny day).
The food more than met our expectations. Bill had a mimosa and I sipped a goblet of fresh-squeezed blood orange juice (in season). Bill ordered the huevos divorciados ($11), with two scrambled eggs, plenty of sliced avocado, home fries, a large pork-and-bean cake, and the “divorced sauces,” a lovely green sauce that tasted of its tomatillo base and a bright pico de gallo, with plenty of lime and chopped red onion. He also ordered a side of wood-grilled ham ($3.50), and he was kept busy deciding what to place inside the soft warm tortillas and what to preserve for a later lunch.