When Three Rivers Café closed last year, fans of chef Eli Dunn eagerly awaited his reappearance. They didn't have to wait long, as he was snapped up by the Beehive Café's owner Jennifer Cavallaro in February. Unfortunately, news from the East Bay to the West Bay travels slowly. So when I had the chance to journey to Bristol and stop in at the Beehive, I was not disappointed.
Not only did my friend Baiba and I have scrumptious sandwiches, but I could indulge in one of my first reasons for following Eli: his pies. As a teenager, he learned to make French butter pastry (latticed and brushed with sugar) from his mom, Phoebe, who ran Phoebe's in Seekonk for more than 20 years. At the Beehive, he's learning even more about baking, both breads and "teatime" pastries, using his and Cavallaro's recipes.
The Beehive menu declares their dedication to buying from local businesses and supporting local farmers. Thus, the burgers are made from Aquidneck Farm's grass-fed beef, the smoothies use Narragansett Creamery yogurt, and the veggies come seasonally through Farm Fresh Rhode Island's Market Mobile farm-to-business delivery system.
Unwittingly, Baiba and I chose two of the favorite sandwiches on the Beehive's list: the roasted butternut squash sandwich ($7.95) and the Beehive BLT ($7.95). Both were served on thick-cut, toasted flaxseed bread, with homemade mayo on the BLT and homemade pesto on the squash. Both were served with a generous salad of mesclun greens and a slightly sweet balsamic vinaigrette.
But, ah the squash sandwich! Not something usually considered as sandwich material, the roasted squash was delicious. With baby spinach, caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes, and melted cheddar, it was so filling I could only make it through one half. (But of course, I was saving room for pie.) The BLT was thickly layered with B and L and T, to Baiba's thorough enjoyment.
The apple pie lived up to its reputation: the apples still had shape but were cooked through; they were not overpowered by the cinnamon; the crust was crunchy in just the right places.
The Beehive is a two-level café, with couches, easy chairs, and small tables upstairs, plus an outside deck overlooking the harbor. Downstairs there are four small tables and a patio.
When Bill and I returned, we also sat upstairs. It was a truly Indian summer day, sunny and warm after a week of cold temps. We'd come to try the breakfasts, and we were very pleased. We split a three-egg omelette, chock-full of smoked salmon, goat cheese, and sautéed onions ($8.95). It was served with flaxseed toast and fresh fruit, the latter an artfully arranged mixture of Jonagold apple slices, banana slivers, strawberry halves, and pomegranate seeds.
We also split a brioche French toast, with cinnamon sugar and real maple syrup ($5.95). This was a wonderful sweet finish to the omelet, along with the raspberry smoothie ($4.25) I was sipping.
From the pastry counter downstairs, we took home and sampled: a cinnamon-raisin scone ($1.95), not too dry, not too sweet, quite good; an apricot cream-cheese muffin ($1.95), dense like a carrot cake; a brownie ($2.95), as dark a chocolate as I crave, made with Callebaut Belgian chocolate; and a chocolate chip cookie ($1.50), large enough and chip-crammed enough to satisfy any cc cookie aficionado,