There are many reasons why we look forward to the weekend. For the Monday-Friday crowd, the weekend provides a time to recharge our batteries, catch up on errands and visit with family and friends. Those are all good parts of the weekend, but for me, I also look forward to Sunday brunch. Sometimes I will cook it myself and other times I enjoy getting out and exploring the great brunches of Rhode Island. I’m always looking for a new place to brunch, and when I read that Wakefield’s new pub, the Saltwater Tavern, was serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, I knew I had to stop in for a visit.
As with most things in Rhode Island, the location of the Saltwater Tavern can best be described by saying what it used to be, and it used to be the popular Italian Village restaurant. The space has been completely renovated from top to bottom. I was really impressed when I walked into the restaurant. The centerpiece of the downstairs is a huge bar with plenty of space for everyone, even including some tables to rest a drink on if you’re not eating. The wooden floors were refinished and look fantastic, as does the pressed tin ceiling and the exposed brick walls. Even the light fixtures were cool: designed to look like gas lamps with beer bottles serving as the globes. The wooden booths and high top tables are spread out nicely, so you feel like you have some privacy.
As any good tavern worthy of its name would have, the Saltwater Tavern has an incredible draft beer list. The list is so long, it comes in the form of a booklet. There were plenty of local beers to be had, including beers from Grey Sail Brewing, Whalers Brewing and Revival Brewing. For brunch, there is a separate cocktail list, and the beer-based cocktails intrigued me. The Pamplette included pilsner, lemon juice, elderflower and a squeeze of grapefruit juice. The Brewmosa blended together Belgian wheat beer with freshly squeezed orange juice. As interesting as these drinks sounded, when I saw they had a Bottomless Mimosa Bar ($16.50), it wasn’t too difficult to choose. Bottomless is a bit of a misnomer, however, since they did limit you to five mimosas. I was only able to drink four, so it wasn’t a dealbreaker for me. To mix with your sparkling wine, you can choose from classic orange, blood orange, pineapple, cranberry, grapefruit, mango, lemon, strawberry or pomegranate juice. When possible, the juices are freshly squeezed. Blood orange was my favorite, but I also enjoyed grapefruit and pineapple. My friend who joined me on this brunch adventure stayed with blood orange the whole time because she liked it so much.
As much as I enjoy going out for brunch, I have to confess I am very picky about brunch food. Eggs benedict is one dish that if it’s not done right, it’s not worth the calories. Seeing one of my favorite breakfast foods (Chiaquiles) on the menu in the form of a benedict, I threw all caution to the wind and ordered it ($12.95). First and foremost, I was not disappointed in this dish. It was a huge portion and more than I could finish in one sitting. The benedict was layered like a casserole. The bottom layer was like a cheese quesadilla and consisted of flour tortillas stuffed with a Mexican blend of cheese. The middle section was a mix of mildly spicy ranchero sauce and black beans. On the top, there was some nicely cooked pulled pork and two poached eggs, which were topped with pico de gallo and roasted jalapeño hollandaise sauce. Everything was high quality, and the flavors all worked together nicely. My friend was also feeling like a benedict and ordered the Sweet Potato Hash Benedict ($10.95). The base was freshly made cornbread, and my friend commented several times how she could tell it was homemade. The hash was made with roasted sweet potatoes, chipotle, lime and onions. My friend was worried it might be too spicy but said it was more flavorful than spicy. Two poached eggs sat on top of the hash and were accompanied by more of the delicious roasted jalapeño hollandaise sauce. Both of our meals came with home fries, and although we are both picky about home fries, we thought these were well done and tasted freshly made.
The upstairs level of the Saltwater Tavern is currently used as a more formal dining area in the evenings, and our waitress touted it as a “date place.” For now, the menu upstairs is the same as downstairs, and the dinner menu offers a nice variety of items. There’s a large appetizer and Mexican food selection, and the entrées are reasonably priced and include local seafood such as Cioppino ($24.95) and Fish and Chips ($12.95).
I will definitely be making some return visits to the Saltwater Tavern this summer. Its convenient location in Wakefield makes it a perfect stop on my way to East Matunuck Beach. I will be ready to sample some of their draft beers, and the Red Velvet Lava Cake ($6.95) is on my “must try” list for the summer.
195 Main Street, Wakefield