Local Flavor on Broadway
The funky new establishment – located at 162 Broadway – has been filling up nightly, offering guests flavorful dishes, creative cocktails, interesting artwork, and good times. One customer on Yelp already stated that the food was so good that she ate it all then took the house-made condiments, to go.
Caleb & Broad’s menu features an array of inspired comfort food. To finesse their ideas, owner Rich Willis and chef Ryan Loeven enlisted the help of family and friends to get honest feedback on dishes like honey-glazed shrimp kebab, duck confit, and Brussels sprouts with bacon. The menu also boasts hearty salads, like the panzanella with pulled chicken, butternut squash, dried cranberry, spinach, Manchego, balsamic dressing, and grilled French bread. Another standout is a separate bar snack menu that tempts taste buds’ Southern side with house-made beef jerky, jalapeno Parmesan popcorn, and fried chicken skins.
Willis grew up in Middletown and began in the culinary industry as an ice cream scooper for Newport Creamery, but his desire to serve his family and friends began at home. “When I was a kid I used to make breakfast for my parents,” he explained. “I would even write out the menu for them. My specialty was pancakes with food coloring.”
At his father’s urging, Willis took a position as a busser at the Hyatt when he was sixteen, a job that he said “was probably the best thing to ever happen to me.” He went on to learn many positions of the house and was even tending bar by the age of 18. Willis said he loves the restaurant industry because he enjoys meeting new people and interacting with them on a different level.
Willis met Loeven while managing Pineapples on the Bay. Loeven had landed there after attending Connecticut Culinary Institute. “Cooking was a big part of my upbringing,” he said. “My father was a chef in the Coast Guard for 20 years and I always remember him cooking for us, as did my mother.”
The Willis-Loeven team also worked together at the Marina Café & Pub. Loeven said he enjoyed working with Willis because he always seemed to do everything right. “Rich is very much ‘by the books,’ and I am always learning from him,” he added.
Willis credits Loeven with an amazing talent for blending flavors and textures, but says above all else he understands the importance of pleasing the client. “I called Ryan because he’s the guy who will do what others won’t,” said Willis. “If a customer wants something out of the ordinary and Ryan has the capability to do it, he will.”
Willis’ time behind the bar while in the Caribbean, along with his wit, are reflected in Caleb & Broads’ collection of signature cocktails. The drink menu mixes up luscious liquids for The Princess, a fruity beverage made with El Jimador Reposado tequila, elderflower liqueur, muddled strawberries and fresh lime, and offers more comedic selections like The Broadway All-Star – a shot of Evan Williams, house-made pickle juice, and a mini-Schaefer beer, served in a brown paper bag.
“Our goal is to have a good time and enjoy what we do,” said Willis. “We plan on being here for a long time.”
Caleb & Broad’s Chicken and Potatoes
1 six-pound chicken
Place on a rack with a cookie sheet underneath to catch drippings (can be used in chicken stock for added flavor). Cook in oven at 250° for 4 – 5 hours.
1 quart chicken stock
2 tbsp. fresh thyme chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 medium sized carrot diced
3 ribs of celery diced
1 medium onion diced
1 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. roux (equal parts of butter
and flour heated in a sauce pan on
medium for 2 to 3 minutes)
Sauté carrots, celery, and onion in a pot until translucent. Add thyme, chicken stock, salt, pepper, and cream. Reduce for 15 minutes. Add the roux and serve.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
10 Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup soft butter
Place garlic in a foil pouch and cover with oil. Roast in the oven on 375° until golden brown (one hour), then puree. Boil potatoes until soft. In a mixer, whisk the potatoes with garlic puree, salt, pepper, and soft butter until smooth.