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Newport RI report-Thanksgiving Week

foodieX2 | Nov 30, 201306:36 AM

We arrived in Newport in the pouring rain. Checked into the Viking (decent for the $$, very friendly staff, basic/generic rooms, good location) and headed out for dinner.

We landed at the Mooring and ended up having a great meal. We were nervous because it seemed like the basic tourist trap but we were tired and hungry. We were seated in a small room right on the water with a wonderful view of a fishing boat all decked out for the holidays. We started with cocktails for us and soda for the boy. Cocktails were nothing special and on the small side. Dinner on the other hand was wonderful. I had the “bag of doughnuts” which were shrimp, clam and lobster fritters. They were light and fluffy with large pieces of the seafood. Good on their own, the aioli really gilded the lily. For my main I had the salmon wrap sandwich that was topped with caramelized onions, pancetta, arugula and some kind of mayo (I forget). It was HUGE, I could barely eat half of it. The salmon was cooked they way I like, just shy of well done and the skin was very crispy. My husband finished the rest of it. The boy had a cup of clam chowder which was creamy, full of clams and not too thick. He wished he got a bowl but was happy nibbling on oyster crackers. My husband had a basic Caesar salad that was nothing special followed by the fish and chips. Big, crispy pieces of fish, tons of fries and a chunky, clearly homemade tartar sauce. I stole a number of fries to dip in that sauce, it was very good.

The Mooring
1 Sayers Wharf,
Newport, RI 02840

We woke up to torrential rains, high winds and balmy temps. The cliff walks were out so we headed out for breakfast before hitting the mansions. We had passed a diner on our way into town the night before. I had a spinach omelet, wheat toast and homefries, the man had a “birds nest” which was perfectly poached eggs on corn beef hash and our boy had the biggest chocolate chip pancakes you have seen. Food was good, fresh and fast. Servers were very friendly and for a diner the coffee was better than expected. Good place for families and our son loved the juke box.

Blue Plate Diner
665 W Main Rd,
Middletown, RI 02842

We slogged our way thru the Breakers even walking thru the grounds in the pelting rain. All the Mansions were all decorated for the holidays, which made it even more special, and they were relatively empty. Plus when your 12-year-old boy says, “that was awesome! Can we do another one?” you know it was worth it. Minor gripe-no coat checks! We were soaked thru and dripping.

Afterwards we headed downtown to check out the shops. We weren’t starving but at this point we were cold and wet and needed a break so we stopped in the Brick Alley Pub. Beers were cold, staff was friendly but that’s about it. Mediocre french onion soup and chowder but they were hot and it got us out of the rain.

Brick Alley Pub
140 Thames St,
Newport, RI 02840

Back to the hotel for a quick swim before dinner. We had made reservations at Perro Salado for 7 but it was clear we didn’t need them-bonus of it being the off-season! We started with the guacamole that came with freshly made chips and plantains as well as the avocado fries. Our son who is a guac “expert” loved it-creamy with chopped tomatoes, onions and cilantro. The fries should have been illegal! Crispy and creamy with a spicy dip I could have made them my dinner. Another bonus of it being the off-season was that the taqueria section of the menu was only $5 vs $9. You choose your style-taco, tostado, quesadilla or enchilada and then the fillings. Both the man and the boy chose this option. I had the duck tamale for $23. While it was quite good it arrived 20 minutes after the other entrees and was pretty small, especially compared to the $5 selection. Service, in addition to the late entrée, was indifferent and bordered on surly. So while the food was better than expected the service really put a damper on things.

Perro Salado
19 Charles St,
Newport, RI 02840

Thanksgiving morning we woke up to sunny skies and bitter cold. I’ll take that over the rain any day. We asked the concierge for breakfast ideas but each place we went to was closed. We were about to settle for SB or DD but founds Gary’s Lunch was open. Armed with newspapers and books we headed in. Surrounded by hungover college kids and parents with young children we enjoyed eggs over easy with chorizo and grilled blueberry muffins. We thanked them profusely for being open and left with full bellies. The rest of day was spent driving around enjoying the sites before heading back to the hotel to dress for dinner.

Gary's Handy Lunch
462 Thames St
Newport, RI 02840

After fruitless requests on CH and not trusting any other food sites I reached out to former RI folks for ideas for the big dinner but ended choosing Muse in the Vanderbilt hotel based on the menu and ambience. The place is very small, no more 12-14 tables centered by a roaring fireplace. We were seated by the fireplace which was welcome after such a cold day and we ordered French Gimlets-Tanqueray, St germaine and fresh squeezed lime juice while we made our food decisions. Our son opted for the sweet potato cavatelli, beef tenderloin and the baked Alaska. My husband and I both opted for the crispy braised wild boar and then the turkey dinner. He chose the baked Alaska as well but, not being a sweet eater, I ordered the cheese plate for my dessert.

Our server was professional, the service was impeccable and not in the least rushed. The food, unfortunately, is what you would expect for hotel holiday meal. The highlights were the cavatelli and the cheese board. The pasta was clearly homemade, tender and delicate. The cheeses were all small tastes from local area farms. My son’s beef was cooked rare as requested and was tender but lacking in flavor. Our turkey was moist with crispy skin but again lacked any real flavor. There were no more than a bite or two of mashed potatoes, stuffing and braised cabbage. My husband left hungry.

I know many people complain of running into unruly children and indulgent parents and luckily that has been a rare occurrence for us. Thanksgiving was an exception. We were seated next another 3 top with about a 7-8 year old girl who could not remain in her seat. It cumulated with her doing a song and dance in front of the fireplace with the parents clapping and urging her on. Even our son was horrified. My husband was about to say something when the father made it clear to the other tables that she was not to be interrupted. Thankfully they left about 20 minutes later so we were able to enjoy our dessert and tea in peace.

Muse by Jonathan Cartwright
41 Mary Street
Newport, RI 02840

We finished off our trip with breakfast at Annie’s and some small business shopping. Annie’s was a huge hit. It started with fresh squeezed OJ and very good coffee. I had the lox plate and a side of the homemade corn beef hash. The hash was a perfect combination of salty meat, buttery potatoes and slightly caramelized onions. I barely got more than a few bites as the men kept stealing it. The lox and bagel were served with arugula, sliced onion and capers. Our son had a grilled blueberry muffin that had just come out of the oven. Tasting more like cake than muffin he loved it so much he got a second one. My husband had the eggs Florentine which was loaded with creamy spinach and hollandaise sauce.

176 Bellevue Ave
Newport, RI 02840

Not able to resist we stopped at Newport Creamery on the way out of town so my husband could get a strawberry Awful Awful. It was nice that they offer junior size as it was just enough for him and the boy to share.

Overall we had a wonderful trip and it was really nice to get away. Newport in the off season, even with all the rain was wonderful. However we all agreed it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving at all. I bought a heritage bird from WF before we left and it is sitting in brine as we speak. It will be roasted tomorrow and served with chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. Tomorrow we feast!

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