Indigenous Diner: Sly Fox Den Too

While working on the November issue of Motif, we kept hearing about an indigenous restaurant called the Sly Fox Den Too. It’s a wonderful and quintessentially Rhode Island kind of diner: only open for breakfast and lunch, and packed full of locals. The food, however, ups the game, with an emphasis on fresh indigenous cuisine.

“Indigenous cuisine is the bounty of the season,” said Chef Sherry Pocknett. “Whatever’s in the woods, whatever you’re harvesting, that’s indigenous food.”

Venison, turkey, smoked salmon hash in the morning for breakfast… Is your mouth watering yet?

How about the Sly Fox Benedict, which are eggs over cornmeal pancakes filled with cranberries, scallions and whole kernel corn with two house-made venison sausages?

“That’s one of the most popular things on the breakfast menu,” Pocknett said. Then she laughed. “The hollandaise sauce, that’s not indigenous.”

There are vegan options too, including the delicious succotash soup made with corn, beans, squash and kale.

“I’m not a vegan,” Pocknett said, “but I love cooking for them, because I love exploring what I can make for a vegan. I make some serious stuff. I’m exploring the bounty. We have these wild mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes, the sun chokes… dandelion greens and beets, cranberries and all the nuts. Right now we have black walnuts. I actually have two trees…”

The prices are reasonable, the food is fantastic, and the message is simple: eat local, and eat fresh.

“It’s our job to take care of this earth,” Pocknett said. “It’s our job to teach our young ones the old ways.”

Sly Fox Den Too, 4349 S County Trail, Charlestown, RI

Guildy Pleasures: Warren’s first brewpub

The smallest town in the smallest state, Warren, RI, which was once known by most as a blink on the way to Newport, has experienced a renaissance in recent years. With a plethora of quality restaurants, Warren has slowly become a dining destination for New Englanders. Adjacent to the town’s Main Street is Water Street, which overflows with eateries like The Square Peg, Revival Craft Kitchen and Bar, Bywater, and the fresh-faced “The Wharf”, formerly known as The Wharf Tavern. Perhaps the most obvious pillar of Warren’s recent renewal is The Tourister Mill. The once-luggage-factory is unmistakable when coming over the two bridges into town. Now a luxury apartment complex, the Tourister stands as a beacon of change for the town and is bringing in new businesses left and right. The latest to hit the scene is Pawtucket-based brewery The Guild.

When The Guild’s first location in Providence was destroyed by a fire, co-owner Jeremy Duffy wanted to move into the Tourister Mill building, but the property’s owners already had a long-term vision that included the new 99 Water Street Apartments. 

“So, we moved on to Pawtucket,” Duffy said. “It is amazing that several years later we are back in Warren, at the original spot, to open our first small-batch brewery and beer hall.” 

The Warren location is the third endeavor for the beer company, following their most recent launch on the Providence Pedestrian Bridge with The Guild PVD Beer Garden.

With 140 seats indoors, and 40 seats on the gorgeous patio facing the Palmer River, The Guild Warren is continuing to staff up and expects to employ roughly 30 people. Local hires include General Manager Ed Levy and Head Chef Stephen Lima, both from Bristol. 

Over a dozen beer selections are available, including multiple Guild originals such as the Observatory – Pale Ale, Isle of White – White IPA, and new brew Warren G – Double IPA. Other offerings include a new Pear Cinnamon Seltzer by Willie’s Superbrew and Chair 2 Light Lager by Sons of Liberty. 

In addition to the abundant drink line-up, Chef Lima has created a substantial list of mouth-watering appetizers and small bites. Flash Fried Tri-Color Cauliflower, Smoked Pork Belly Nachos, and a Quinoa Salad Bowl to name a few. For protein, an array of sliders are available including burgers, chicken, and roast beef. 

“The energy around us opening was incredible and it has not stopped,” said Duffy. “We have seen terrific crowds since day one…. The nicest thing is that our biggest fans have been the tenants of 99 Water Street and the American Tourister. We are grateful for that.” 

The Guild is reciprocating Warren’s warm welcome with plans to collaborate with the town’s many restaurants and vast art scene. “We want to use Warren as a place of innovation and collaboration around our beers. We have a terrific seven barrel brewhouse that is ready to be that platform,” says Duffy. 

The Guild Warren, 99 Water Street, Warren, RI. Currently open Wed through Sun. Visit their website @theguildwarren for times.

Friskie Fries: Motif Overall Favorite Truck Award

Where do the best thoughts come from? A boardroom? The shower? 

For Randy D’Antuono, the best ideas came in the wee morning hours sitting on a street curb in Amsterdam, from some scribbled notes on a bar napkin. That’s where we can trace the origins of his greatest salty, starchy gift to Rhode Island: Friskie Fries. 

From these humble beginnings, the entrepreneur ascended to claim the Motif top truck award this year, Overall Favorite Truck

“Food and memories go hand in hand. We are lucky to be a part of it,” said Darryl Hutto, the Food Truck Manager, who accepted the award. 

Our first question for D’Antuono stumped him: which fries are best? 

“There are so many choices for so many different taste palates,” he said. “The number one seller is Miss Potato Head [Friskie Fries topped with smoked bacon, sharp cheddar, sour cream and scallions] followed by Cluckin’ Hot Mess [Friskie Fries topped with crispy chicken, buffalo sauce and blue cheese]. When the Tiger King [Friskie Fries topped with General Tso’s Chicken, Mandarin Oranges and scallions] was introduced as a special, it was overwhelmingly popular—so popular that customers demanded it to be a permanent item.” 

D’Antuono did confide that his personal favorite menu item is The Dirty Daug, which is a collaboration with another RI culinary legend, New York System. The fries are topped with New York System weiner bits, meat sauce, diced onion, mustard, and of course celery salt. Now there’s an option for those revelrous souls who saunter out of their favorite downtown discotheque and don’t want to make the hike to Olneyville!  Naturally Friskie Fries wouldn’t be Friskie Fries without Tipsy, the business’s feline logo and mascot. D’Antuono told Motif that Tipsy works overtime as both the mascot for Friskie Fries and its sister business the Alleycat Bar in downtown Providence. “For the past 20 years, that famous cat named Tipsy has reminded people of good times, a safe atmosphere and memorable experiences,” he said. “[Since he] was so well known, we wanted to brand Friskie with the same public identification and recognition as the bar: in this case, just sitting on a pile of fries instead of sitting by a martini.”

D’Antuono says that the loyalty of his guests—known as “friskettes”—is incredibly humbling. “Without this following, Friskie would be just another place to get fries,” says D’Antuono. “It is not. It’s an experience.”

Looking to the future, Friskie Fries is headed for the moon: Friskie Fries just built another new truck, plans to expand their presence into Boston and is working to bring the Friskie brand into the franchising world by spring of 2022. “We honestly believe that Friskie can be a nationwide fry-nomenon,” D’Antuono told Motif. After grimacing at the pun, we agreed. 

Friskie Fries has catered hundreds of concerts and corporate events. “Two that always stand out for us are The Salem Food Truck Festival and certainly “The Big E” Fair in West Springfield,” D’Antuono said. “We have a beautiful location in The RI Building on the grounds where we witness two million visitors at the park in a three-week timeframe.”While a few of our questions were tough for D’Antuono, it was easy for him to say what he was proudest of. “This is the easiest question of them all. My staff. Without them, I would have nothing,” D’Antuono told Motif. “I could never pull this off myself. With the constant support of the community, friends and family, Friskie will continue to grow and deliver the highest quality product with a smile and a meow!”