Carriage Inn and Saloon: The New Classic

Two chefs combine their creations in North Kingstown

So Rhode Island Magazine ·

The Carriage Inn and Saloon in North Kingstown is newly renovated and just reopened this past February. The restaurant features co-executive chefs Steve Lima and Glenn Toalson who come from very different backgrounds. Steve fell in love with cooking through spending time with his grandmother and trying to recreate her recipes. Glenn was born and raised in Chicago and found his passion after working in a kitchen when he was 14-years-old. Now, both chefs come together over a mutual love of food to create inspired new creations from old classics and locally grown ingredients.

Where did you get your start as a chef?
Steve: My first job was when I was 14 as a bus boy at Tweet Balzano’s Family restaurant in Bristol. I was a terrible bus boy and wanted to quit. But one day a salad cook didn’t show up and I begged the owner to let me work in the kitchen. I have been in the kitchen ever since.
Glenn: I came to Rhode Island to go to Johnson & Wales at 18 to become a chef. I also worked and got my start at Twenty Water Street in East Greenwich while attending school. That’s where everything came together for me as a chef and I honed my skills.

Tell me about your journey to the Carriage Inn and Saloon?
Steve: In 2007, I opened Crave Seafood Steak in Wakefield. Owning my own restaurant was a dream come true. I planned and envisioned it in my head for years and it truly bothered me when I had to close its doors. I eventually went to work in Newport, but I hoped that someday I would come back to South County to somehow redeem myself. I wanted to come back to South County and prove to myself that I can cook here. So when I saw an ad for an executive chef, I jumped at the opportunity.
Glenn: A good friend I played on a softball team with was the owner’s (Greg Kirwan) brother. I talked to him then interviewed.

What is your inspiration both in creating the menu and cooking in general?
Steve: My inspiration for the menu was to bring the iconic Carriage Inn back to life and to take classics and reinvent them with a new, fresh perspective.
Glenn: I find inspiration with the ingredients that are easily available. I like to use whichever ingredient is prime during the season. I love classical French cooking but I add a twist.

What is a unique dish that we can look forward to?
Steve: Although Carriage Inn will always be known for its Prime Rib, I believe that the most interesting dish is the Chicken Wellington. It’s a perfect example of making the old new again. A traditional Wellington is made with a filet mignon topped with spinach, mushroom mousse and foie gras wrapped in a puff pastry. The Carriage Inn’s version is chicken breast with spinach, portabella mushroom and goat cheese in a puff pastry.
Glenn: We also make a Bacon Steak with a cranberry maple glaze and a chilled white bean succotash.

What seasonal dishes can we look forward to?
Steve: For the summer season we have Crab Cakes with a radish and apple slaw.
Glenn: We do a lot of work with local farms like Shartner, so the summer menu will have a lot of fresh seasonal vegetables.

What is your favorite dish to make?
Steve: The Bacon-Wrapped Cod with clam chowder sauce. It starts with bacon wrapped around RI cod, which is then pan seared. For the sauce, I make a reduction out of our RI Style clam chowder and spike it with Sambucca and heavy cream.
Glenn: I would say the Chicken Wellington, we sell quite a bit of it nightly. We also make Prime Rib sliders that are high quality.

How are Rhode Island foods incorporated into the menu?
Steve: We get oysters from RI (including Matunuck oysters), clams and Point Judith calamari from Town Dock. We get our produce from Belmont Market and use Faming Turtles greens. We believe very much in getting as much as we can locally from as many producers as possible.
Glenn: We source out as much as we can, and not just statewide ingredients but ingredients from the same zip code. We serve food that was grown or caught only about three miles away.

What is your philosophy on cooking?
Steve: Farm-to-table seems to be the latest catch phrase in the restaurant business, but I have always believed that it’s the only way to run a kitchen. As a kid I remember everything was fresh, simple and good. Food doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to be fresh and thoughtfully prepared.
Glenn: Respect the integrity of the ingredient. Don’t overthink it or over complicate it.

Carriage Inn and Saloon. 1065 Tower Hill Road, North Kingstown. 294-8466.

Carriage Inn and Saloon, North Kingstown, Steve Lima, Glenn Toalson,