Locale Profiles: The Tree House Tavern and Bistro — An Irresistible Enigma



A little bit of Vermont found on the side of Route 117 in Warwick

One way or another you know this place. Perhaps you’ve noticed it after getting your Porsche serviced at the dealer across the street. Maybe you’ve seen the television commercials, in which young couples gaze into one another’s eyes as they clink glasses and enjoy the romantic ambiance. Possibly it’s popped up on Yelp when you’ve searched for eclectic restaurants in Warwick.  

I first noticed the Tree House Tavern and Bistro on my drive home from the Kent County Y. There it was – an oasis amidst a concrete jungle of Dunkin’ Donuts and luxury car dealerships – a quaint restaurant/tavern resembling a Vermont country inn. What is this place doing on Route 117 in Warwick? I had to know.

So on a random Saturday last fall, I convinced my husband to bring our sons there for breakfast, and the atmosphere did not disappoint.  The word “cozy” does not begin to describe this place. The main room (the only room in which you’d want to sit), was filled with festive décor and interesting knick-knacks, all of which fit the fall season. The cocktail menu offered a plethora of choices that made you want to don an LL Bean sweater and sit by the outdoor fire pit long after the sun set: hot chocolate drinks, pumpkin martinis, spiced wine and an impressive selection of craft beers. I felt transported to a leaf-peeping weekend up north as I pictured myself sipping mulled wine around the fire while my kids drank hot chocolate and we mingled with other guests on a crisp fall night. So what if the clientele seemed a little long in the tooth? I felt like I was on vacation … in Warwick! I vowed this would be my new place.

Sadly my dreams began to crumble. The service was excruciatingly slow – a nightmarish scenario when you’re dining with children. Those elderly patrons, who previously smiled at us, were now casting glares as my 3-year-old fussed in his chair and loudly discussed the contents of his diaper. Then came the food, which was mediocre at best. To top off the disappointment, we learned that reservations for dinner are an absolute must. This would not be my new place after all.

Recently I decided to give it another try. Even though it was a Thursday night, I decided not to take a chance and called ahead for a table for two. The hostess informed me I’d be getting their last table, as they had live entertainment and were at maximum capacity. Huh?

As we walked in I noticed they changed the décor from fall festive to après ski meets Irish Cottage. The ambiance, however, was just as warm and inviting, and the drink list just as exciting. I’m happy to report that the food and service had also vastly improved since my last visit. Our server was friendly and proficient, and everything we ordered was delicious – from the sweet and salty pulled pork nachos, to the incredible savory duck pizza and the salad with fresh roasted vegetables. The highlight for me was dessert –a chocolate pretzel martini:  Godiva chocolate liqueur and Frangelico with a chocolate drizzle and a salted rim. Ridiculously good. My dining partner opted for one of the 18 dessert choices displayed on two large trays. Though baked in-house, the dessert had a not-so-fresh flavor, as though it had been sitting in the fridge just a tad too long. I’d suggest sticking with cocktails to end your meal.

Will I go back? Most likely, yes. I’m admittedly drawn to this bizarre enigma of a restaurant. Is it a tavern or a bistro? Is it geared toward families and young couples or the cast of Cocoon? Is it a special occasion type of place where reservations are required or can we drop in for a cocktail? I’m uber-confused, yet I sort of love it.

One thing I do know, if you’re looking for someplace hip and cool, this is not the place for you. Don’t let that list of craft beers fool you. However, if you want to be ironic for the night, or pretend you’re in Vermont, or know what it’s like to have an AARP card, I can’t recommend this place highly enough.   The food is fairly unique and tasty, the drink menu exhaustive and the ambiance can’t be beat. Be sure to make a reservation and request the main room. If nothing else, you’ll have something to Yelp about.

Tree House Tavern and Bistro, 1094 Centerville Road, Warwick



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