We’d been hearing about the Three Rivers café since it first opened three years ago, primarily because of the cachet of having Phoebe Dunn’s pies served there. Dunn owned the dear, departed Phoebe’s, in Seekonk, for 20 years, and fortunately for Rhode Islanders, her son Eli paid close attention as a kid to her super-special way with seafood and with desserts.
|Three Rivers | 401.289.2067 | 267 Water St, Warren | Wed-Sat, 7 am-2 pm, | Breakfast/Lunch; Sun, 7 am-2 pm, Breakfast only | Major credit cards | Beer + wine | Sidewalk-level accessible|
He’s now heading up the kitchen at Three Rivers, after apprenticeships out West and at Julian’s, in Providence. Alas, Phoebe no longer supplies him with pies, but the loss can be overlooked in light of Eli’s inventive menu, with its panoply of wonderful choices.
Kudos must also go to landlord Paul Bullock, long-time Warren restaurateur, for refurbishing what had been a screened-in porch on the back of his own popular Tav-Vino Restau-rant. That space is now Three Rivers, with cottage-style windows on two sides, skylights up above and a glorious view of boats on the Warren River from any table.
If you’d like to be even closer to the water, you can choose one of the eight outside tables, weather permitting, that are under a large, permanent canopy. Or you can even arrive by boat and tie up at the restaurant’s dock to indulge in a leisurely Sunday brunch.
We cruised over to Warren in our ole reliable Camry, but the effect was similar: we were damp from the rain and eager to nestle into this warm and welcoming café. It was bustling but not boisterous — such a change from other eateries that feel compelled to crank up the music and boost the overall sound level. Here, what we heard were the clatter of dishes and utensils from the open kitchen just a few steps away and an occasional call for a waitress to pick up an order.
The first problem with the menu is that there are so many great options, from both the regular menu and the daily specials. The other issue, of course, is that if you arrive to-ward the end of Three Rivers’ day, you’re apt to find that some items are sold out. The whole wheat pumpkin pancakes with spiced native apples, and the huevos rancheros on two locally made blue corn tortillas, were two such dishes on our visit. Also while we were there, the Ducktrap River smoked salmon Benedict ran out.
Those descriptions point to one of Eli Dunn’s priorities: using local ingredients whenever possible: the salmon is from Maine; the apples and peaches come from Rhode Island orchards; the sausage from A.J. Martin, in Warwick. All of the bread at Three Rivers (including the walnut and fig babka) is from Bristol Bakery. The turkey is house-roasted; the strawberry-rhubarb jam is made in-house; the veggies are local, when in season; the granola is Dunn’s own homemade.
The fillings for three-egg, folded omelets are more than two dozen items, including eight cheeses and six meats. “House-pan” omelets, not folded, are offered with grilled veggies and goat cheese on top, or chouriço, potatoes, and cheddar. The spinach, pesto, and scrambled-egg-stuffed portabella is a customer favorite, as are the corn and black bean fritters ($9.95), which Bill settled on, with a side of sausage ($2.95).