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Five Nights in Newport R.I.: Excellent Foods and Great Vacat'n

opinionatedchef | May 31, 201602:51 PM     2

I first want to thank those few who have shared their Newport experiences on CHound. We had a terrific trip- thanks to you!

http://www.megsmilkbar.com/meatpies
Thanks to the web, we stopped here on our way into Newport, and the 2 steak pies that we picked up made terrific late-afternoon lunches and dinners. I am always on the hunt for meat pies of any kind and these were easily the highest quality combination I have found of tender meat, flavorful gravy, and flaky sturdy buttery pastry. FINally- a meat pie bursting with filling and quality! We actually ordered a dozen to take home to Boston at the end of our trip!

Talulah’s on Thames
this was the only upscale fine dining restaurant that I could find in Newport
that was, imo, Innovative, with unusual elements and flavorings. The meal was a treat from Amuse bouche through the finger sweets with the final bill. influences ranged from Morocco, Turkey, Spain, France,Italy, U.S. The generous 4 course tasting gave us just the right amount of food and we felt more than satisfied! I loved the chef/owner’s attention to detail and particularly his many plays with texture. Micro greens and edible flowers adorned each course, and I wished a photographer were on hand to document the art that was each plate. Much to our delight the young dessert chef was easily as stellar as the rest of the staff. The waitresses were welcoming and lovely.

The Mooring
We had the first lunch of our 5 days here, and the choice was perfect. If you appreciate Garrett Harker’s restaurants in Boston or Danny Meyers’ in NYC, The Mooring has a similar hospitality philosophy--professional through and through. Food highlights were the wide choice of oysters,
‘bag ‘o donuts’, swordfish sandwich. Glad that I asked for spoon-tastes of the 2 chowders, as the scallop chowder was raw tasting of uncooked booze, and the clam chowder was full of clams and flavor o.k. but rather cornstarchy. The raw Tuna and Avocado preparation was sweet and not well thought out, but lime juice saved it. It was a treat to eat out ‘on the deck’ with the clear ‘curtains’ for warmth when it got windy. All in all, not a great dining place but a great place to
start a Newport vacation!(And if you go for an early lunch, parking is right there!)

Scratch Kitchen
Terrific grilled cheese breakfast sandwiches. Once we figured out to order extra cheese, they were fantastic. Our favs, on an excellent Multigrain bread, were Chorizo and sauteed veggies w/ xtra cheese; Southwest Frittata w/ xtra cheese; Turkey w/ everything. The duck confit was not as successful for us. V. good soups as well. I have to say, I was so impressed by the soft and creamy quality of their frittata(they can turn dry so easily, but not theirs!)and the foil-wrapped sandwiches stayed crunchy and warm when we took them for a later car lunch.

http://www.winnerwinnernpt.com/
Winner Winner (Chicken Dinner!) was just that- a treat. This was our one take-out dinner, the new incarnation of what was the Thames Street Kitchen. Both the fried chicken and the rotisserie shared the highest quality of preparation and moist flavorful meat. The biscuits were too small (I’m a Southern girl) but flaky, buttery and flavorful.( We were very glad we added an order.) The potato salad had lovely fingerling potatoes but the flavor was not my thing. Side mixed greens salad and shallot dressing was delicious. Cardboard packaging was eco-friendly. Wow i wish these folks were in Boston!

Fluke
gave us a beautiful last-night wharfside dinner in Newport, perched by a third floor full window looking out on an ethereal sunset. The owner, manager and waitress were all gracious and helpful and really impressed us.
I was thrilled to find skate and other less-common fish on the menu with an international array of spicings and techniques and very generous servings, and a broad choice of green veggies and other sides. (Yay, roasted sunchokes!) While i rarely order them, the thin house-made fries with garlic aioli-- were stellar.

Brunch at Jamestown Fish was likely our favorite meal of the week. In a charming sunny white and sky blue room, we were charmed from beginning to end. Chef Matt was in a very expansive mood, entertaining friends, and we had some fun talks with him. All of the food, French-leaning, was stellar, from the ‘fish soup’ (more like a lobster bisque) and multi grain bread, to the salads, highlighted by local cheeses, and the Eggs en Meurette, under a red wine mushroom sauce, and the Croque Madame. Our waitress was the one weak link of our meal, just not as focused as she should have been. But this sunny brunch was surely one of our favorites ever!

Activity Highlights:

In ‘downtown’ Newport, driving the lengths of Thames and Spring Streets (each is one-way), Broadway and Bellevue, to study the different architectural styles. For a quieter afternoon, we drove around to oogle all the mansions, carriage houses and out-buildings, and see the Cliff Walk and all the public beaches along Ocean Drive.

After Jamestown Fish, we had a great time visiting Jamestown’s various state parks, especially Beavertail with its lighthouse and crashing surf on three sides- above large rock outcrops.Unfortunately, they have no benches there, but they do have 5-6 clean odorless bathroom cabins. Next time we visit, we plan to take down our own chairs so we can sit all day next to that fantastic surf!

We spent our last day on an excursion to South and North Kingstown, both on the R.I. mainland, west of Newport and Jamestown.(Tiverton and Little Compton, on the R.I. mainland just east of Newport, have some nice vistas, but I found the western mainland more to my liking.) At The Farmer’s Daughter, one of the area’s premier nurseries for annuals, we loaded the car as we had on previous visits. So.Kingstown is a beautiful 18th c. country town with many roads to meander. Wickford, 10 min. north, is a rare jewel of a well-preserved 18th c. village-on-the-water with an array of beautiful clapboard houses, each with a unique door surround more handsome than the next. This is a great place to spend the afternoon, absorbing the historic architecture and deciding which color combination would look best on your house!

I really think that if you have the flexibility in your timing, late May is a fantastic time to visit Newport. The crowds haven't invaded yet and everything, from noodling around to dining reservations, is so much easier.

The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar
Winner Winner
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