Chef Evan Wargo, in his fourth season at Eli’s Restaurant, likes to provide surprise in his foods. Along with his creative touch, its flavor first combined with a “global approach” in his menu choices. Wargo continually seeks out new techniques for serving the best food.
We sat in Eli’s shiny, efficient kitchen while Evan prepared his popular Olive Oil Poached Tuna. The technique, called sous vide, is not something many folks could do in their home kitchens. In fact, we wondered if Evan had some secret past as a chemist before he got his degree from the Culinary Institute of America.
The tuna is vacuum-sealed with its own marinade and then quickly poached at a carefully-controlled, consistent temperature. The result of this intriguing process is an individually-prepared serving of moist, tender tuna, with a pungent tang of herbs and lemon. To complete the dish, the fish is served over a mixture of fresh spring vegetables in a Parmesan brodo (broth) and topped with herbed bread crumbs and delicate pea tendrils.
One of the reasons Eli’s is such a hit is because of all the attention given to details. Evan says the size of the cozy restaurant works to everyone’s advantage yielding more time to focus on what matters. He seeks out vegetables and eggs from Block Island’s Blazing Star Farms, local oysters and striped bass. All menu items are made from scratch.
Eli’s is unpretentious and always friendly. Evan gets a rush from busy nights when the tables are full (with a bit of a line outside) and the kitchen pumping on all six pistons. Some guests have been known to pop through the swinging door to rave about a meal. One man broke into song.
Eli’s menus change frequently, but the Olive Oil Poached Tuna will be available for several more weeks.
— Becky Ballard
Eli’s is located at 456 Chapel Street. Phone is 401-466-5230.
“Order this …” is a weekly column celebrating the kind of delicious food and drinks that can be found at restaurants and pubs on Block Island. If anyone has a recommendation that you’d like to share with our readers, contact Kari at firstname.lastname@example.org or 466-2222.