Eli’s Tavern ups the culinary ante by embracing the gastropub ethos and brining in a talented youngchef, David Brooks, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who did an internship at the legendary Le Bernardin in New York City and previously owned Judie's European Bakery in New Haven (so “the desserts are out of this world,” Fitzsimmons says).
The result of the whole formula is well-priced, delicious and hearty tavern fare that’s executed as beautifully as haute cuisine and kicked up more than a notch from pub fare by the chef’s talent and creative twists.
Consider the Philly Egg Rolls from the Small Plates menu. These variations on the classic Philly cheese steak sandwich—with the egg roll replacing the bread—are packed with super-tender and richly flavored (real) steak, onions and cheddar, and then nicely spiced with chipotle aioli. They’re totally addictive—and go great with any of the 18 craft beers on draught.
Another example is the lobster roll. Lots of even the best lobster rolls out there are filled with knuckle and claw meat, but Fitzsimmons says the Eli’s Tavern version contains precious tail meat. Brooks makes the classic fresh and sublime with his foamed hot-buttered corn sauce, and then tops the lobster meat with crisped tortillas to bring some pleasant crunch into the equation—pairing all of that with a piquant purple slaw (and fries).