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Newport RI In the Rain Dining Report

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Newport RI In the Rain Dining Report

sivyaleah | Oct 17, 2005 01:55 PM

As everyone knows, the last week was NOT exactly the best time to visit anywhere in the northeast. However, our B&B was going to keep our $700 deposit if we didn't come up last Wednesday to we braved the elements and were happy we did.

We arrived Wednesday night, checked into the Francis Malbone B&B and headed over to the Red Parrot. Let me being by saying this was not an actually concious choice - it was by default. We arrived at nearly 10pm and as many people may be aware - several restaurants in Newport do not open Wednesdays, let alone still serve dinner at that hour. Since the RP was literally down the block it seemed a no-brainer.

It wasn't horrible. I thought it would be but it was a decent choice. I had very good steamers, which I hadn't had in years, with a salad w/goat cheese. Barely made a dent in any of it since it was so late but what I ate I enjoyed. My husband had a hamburger which he said was pretty good too.

Before I go forward with the actual restaurants I have to give a nod to the Francis Malbone's breakfasts and afternoon teas. Breakfast started with an serve yourself assortment of muffins, croissants, cereals, yogurts, fruits, juice, coffee and tea. Each morning there was also 2 hot entree choices, some kind of egg dish and then a waffle or pancake choice. I can't remember the last time I ate such lavish breakfasts. The first morning, I had scrambled eggs with chopped up pieces of ham in a puff pastry with hollandaise sauce (and scarfed down a very good blueberry muffin prior). My husband had, if I remember correctly that day, banana/walnut pancakes with bacon.

Second morning was a tomato, basil, mozzerella fritta for me with roasted potatoes (and I asked for a side of bacon which was no problem). My husband had stuffed french toast? I can't remember which day he had what but I basically remember in general what each were. Third morning - Quiche Lorraine was my choice, he had blueberry pancakes, again, memory totally escapes me. The last morning, it was Johnnycakes with bacon for both of us.

All of these choices were wonderful. The only negative was the coffee was a bit weak for my taste but other than that, we were greatly impressed by these breakfasts. Tea was served each afternoon at 4pm. Ridiculous amount of cookies, cakes, savory tarts, nuts, cheeses, chocolate mousse, shortbreads, poached pears in raspberry merlot sauce - the list goes on and on and each day was different. I give them an A+ on this. Leftover cookies/cakes were left on a serving tray to take during the evening hours. Had the best peanut butter cookies ever there - I think I might have to beg for the recipe!

Ok on to meals proper. The first afternoon there, we were so stuffed from our breakfast, which we ate on the later side for us, that we didn't get hungry for lunch until about 3pm. Stopped in for some brick oven pizza a few doors down from the B&B, may even have been just called "Brick Oven Pizza". Place looked kind of questionable but the pizza turned out to be pretty good. Not NYC pizza mind you, of which we have had plenty - but very tasty. We both had the "meat lovers" slice - pepperoni, sausage and ground beef. There was a good ratio of meat to cheese - and it folded over nicely without falling apart. It was a nice find.

Dinner our first night was at The West Deck. Upon walking up to it - it looks like some sea shack (especially on a dark stormy night as it were). We were pleasantly surprised once inside - it was very unassuming but you could tell there was a good vibe in the place. The kitchen is totally open for all to see, even from the side room we were in - I had a clear view of all the kitchen happenings. The menu was very interesting and we had trouble figuring out what to have as everything sounded intriguing. Finally, we decided to split a goat cheese/potato appetizer first. This sliced pieces of potato layered with the goat cheese. Very mellow flavor, could have used a bit more "umph" for lack of a better word, but it was enjoyable none-the-less. I then had the veal osso buco over pumpkin papperdelle. This was rather sublime - had those fall spices going on - with little spurts of pureed parsnips and carrots/horseradish piped on. I thought this dish really worked well and went great with the Renwood Old Vine Zin I had with it (their wine list was pretty good, tho not huge). My husband had cheese tortellini with tomatoes in a garlic cream sauce. This was very satisfying and surprisingly, he couldn't finish the whole dish. We split a tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream for desert -the tarte was nice and hot and very generously sized. The ice cream tasted a bit generic - but I won't fault them if they were using store bought - their kitchen is by no means large and perhaps making their own is too problematic. No biggie in the grand scheme of dining. If I remember correctly, the bill was just over $100 or so. We enjoyed our meal there completely - service was impeccable too and would come back again.

The second day we went to the Black Pearl for lunch. Had a great clam chowder and a very good lobster salad. The lobster salad had large chunks of claw and tail meat in it and was served over Bibb lettuce with cherry tomatoes and green peppers. Negative was the salad dressing was very anemic - had no flavor other than being oily. My husband had a beet soup which he loved and the chicken pot pie which was really tasty although a bit thin as far as the broth was concerned. Also, the pastry was a bit too stuck onto the sides and you really couldn't pull it off - so there wasn't much top left to soak up the bottom remains of the pot pie. A bit disappointing but again, not a huge big deal. Glad we did lunch here, not dinner.

Dinner the second night was at Mama Louisa's. We had intended to go to the White Horse Tavern, however, it was raining so hard and the thought of dressing up for this dinner and possibly not being able to find a parking space nearby was very unappealing. ML's was a great choice tho and we had an exceptionally good meal there. Adorable place decor-wise. Very nice wine list with an obvious concentration on italian wines. Authentic italian food. We started by splitting a plate of their ricotta/spinach homemade gnocchi with "Mama Lousia's family recipe marinara sauce". Well, we were blown away at how light those gnocchi's were and Mama sure does have a good sauce thing going on! I had a sirloin steak, drizzled with olive oil over arugula and served with shaved parmesean, and a side order of roasted potatoes. My husband had a chicken cutlet with provolone cheese and proscuitto and shared the potatoes with me. Desert was a chocolate bombe basically (although we thought of it as tartufo) - chocolate and vanilla icecream with almonds and a marichino cherry inside covered in dark chocolate. The coating was very good quality chocolate and the ice cream was very good too. We both had a glass of Montepulciano with our dinner. I think this bills was about $125 w/tip and tax. I can't wait to eat here again.

On the third day we had lunch at the White Horse to make up for not having dinner there. Had one of the best burgers in ages and my husband had a roast beef sandwich. I especially liked that they didn't throw a huge slab of onion and tomato on their burger - they minced up onions and tomatoes, which were marianted and the burger had gruyere cheese and dijon mustard - a combo I happen to love for a burger.

Dinner that day was at 22 Boewens. This was our biggest disappointment. We'd heard good things about it but my take on it is it's overpriced, and over-praised. Service was terrible as far as I'm concerned. When you're winding up paying close to $150 for dinner, the least you can expect is for your wine to arrive before or with your appetizer and to get your lobster setup before or with your lobster, not after it's been sitting in front of you cooling for 5 minutes. Or for someone to remember to come over periodically to fill your water glass. Is it just me? I don't think so.

I started with a half-dozen local oysters. They were literally minute - certainly not worth the $12.50 I believe the cost. Plus, I had specifically ordered the wine to enjoy with them - but that didn't come until I was nearly done with them (we tried finding our waitress to no avail). My husband had the french onion soup - just "ok", nothing remarkable.

I ordered the 2 lb steamed lobster for $44 (gasp!!!). A la carte no less - ordered a side of Lyonaise potatoes to go with it. My husband ordered the 8 oz Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese potatoes. The lobster was good - but - just a overpriced lobster and truthfully, seemed less than the 2 lbs it was supposed to be. His filet was good but not amazing (of course, we'd recently had the best filet of our lives a few months back at Delmonico's in Las Vegas, and while we know we shouldn't judge any other filet to it - it's difficult not to). The blue cheese potatoes barely spoke of cheese - not even a whisper. Best part of the meal was the desert - a very good creme brulee (we're very picky about this particular desert). All in all, I don't know why people rave about this place. We even witnessed a waiter bring a birthday cake to someone's table...and place it infront of the wrong person! That was kind of amusing to watch, but still...we won't be back there. Average - nothing special at all.

Sunday was our last day there. It was the Boewen's Wharf Seafood festival that day and the day prior. I stuffed myself on 22 Boewens lobster fritters with remolaude sauce, which were good and now I'm glad I didn't pay for the the night before, because at the festival you could get 6 fritters for $3.00. Also had some very good fresh fried calamari from another purveyor but don't remember who was making them. My husband, who does not eat any seafood, actually thought the fritters were pretty good and same for the calamari so that says a lot.

For the most part we ate quite well and enjoyed our meals. We look forward to going back another time to try White Horse for dinner and some others we didn't get a chance to hit which interested us, such as Zelda's and The Spiced Pear (which we avoided since we'd read awful service reviews on them).

Thanks to anyone who helped in our quest for dining info last week!

Laurie

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