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"Basically British" in Warren, RI


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"Basically British" in Warren, RI

OOliver | Jul 1, 2008 02:30 PM

I have looked to see if their was a review of 'Basically British' in RI, but couldn't find one so I thought I'd post this.

About eighteen months ago, I had read a few articles on this establishment in some local papers. At the time, the restaurant was completing a move from Bristol to Warren in larger quarters, and it sounded interesting. (It's a tea room/restaurant/antique store.) .

My friend and I tried to have lunch there one day last summer, We called for the hours and reached an answering machine which stated gave the hours (open every day except Tuesdays), so we thought we give it a try. Once we got there (it was a Monday) the place was closed. No signage, nothing - just locked up. We weren't sure if they were closed for the day, or closed for good (since there was no indication they were going to be closed that day - according to the answering machine). A woman who was from a neighboring business approached us and told us they were on vacation. A notice on the door would have been helpful, while an updated message on the phone greeting would have saved us a 45 minute drive. We debated about returning last summer, but never did.

Yesterday, we decided to try again. We called and reached the answering machine again (we were told later they NEVER answer their phone) - so we decided to go (and had a back-up plan in mind, if they were closed again). We're glad we did.

"Basically British" is located off of Child Street in Warren, in a place called "Cutler Mills". It's an old mill factory building which is ever so slowly trying to be refurbished into a thriving marketplace. Aside from the restaurant, there's a butcher shop, and a few offices - but no retail. Hopefully that will change.

There's a beautiful outdoor gated patio/courtyard which greets you with a few umbrella-tables and a beautiful garden. Very inviting! (I never sit outside on a 'sidewalk' or a 'parking lot' to smell gas fumes from the cars going by - I prefer an enclosed courtyard/patio such as this). The young lady who greeted us (she was claering off a table) suggested we sit indoors since it was much cooler than the hot humid patio. Indoors we went!

Once inside, we couldn't help marveling at the beautiful interior. Beautifully decorated with antiques...from the table where we dined, to the hangings on the wall, the the teapots which decorate the surrounding cabinets. You feel right at home. A young waitress came over and pointed to the sign board in front of us for the daily lunch specials (they don't have a 'lunch menu' to hand to you, just a tea menu). Everything - and I mean everything - sounded delicious...from the salads to the soups to the sandwiches. About a dozen items to choose from.

My friend and I both settled on the 'lobster-shrimp-crab' salad on brioche ($19.95) with cole slaw. The waitress said it was the most popular, made each day by the owner with her secret recipe. We requested no cole slaw (we both don't like it) so the owner/chef surprised us with a 'cold wild rice salad'. Within minutes our lunches were in front of us - Our mouths watered as we could see the chunks of lobster, shrimp and crab spilling out of the sandwich. First we tried the 'wild rice' salad - incredible. Mixed with different vegetables (asparagus, red peppers and summer squash) and a toush of curry, this 'side' could have been a meal instead. Onto the sandwich - one bite and we knew it was worth the year-long wait to return to the restaurant. One of the best lobster salad sandwiches we have ever had (the best, though, is still the one at Stella Blues which is not too far from "Basically British"). What kept this one from topping Stella Blues' was two minor things - a bit too much mayo and a bit too much tarragon for both our tastes, but we would certainly order it again without hesitation.

Though we were stuffed, we decided to go for the dessert as well. I opted for a strawberry amaretto cake, while my friend went with a scone with jam and clotted cream (our waitress indicated everything was made on the premises). The cake was delicious - not too sweet, nice and moist ...the perfect summer dessert. My friend said the scone was incredible - with a generous portion of cream and jam.

The service was great. Attentive, but not 'shadowing us'. She kept her eye on our water glasses, silverware, etc - to see what needed refilling/replacing. She informed us that the check already had a gratuity "added on" - lunch/dessert for two came to a total of $72 with tax and tip. (I drank iced coffee while my friend drank fresh brewed iced tea; I believe they do offer alcoholic beverages as well, but not 100% sure).

Afterwards, the owner "Fab" came over to greet us and made some pleasant conversation. She informed us that the place is open for dinner on Friday evenings now, and offer Celtic music for entertainment. She then asked if we had a few minutes so she could show us the 'other rooms' which had her antiques displayed (she explained 'antiques' were her passion, cooking is what keeps the place going). She was engaging and entertaining - we felt like we knew her forever as we enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. (My friend did end up buying a few pieces of vintage clothing at very reasonable prices - her passion!).

Overall, a place I highly recommend - especially for lunch! Excellent food, excellent service - very reasonable prices. One of Rhode Island's best kept secrets. (Just have a back-up plan in case they are closed). . .

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