In the height of the summer, Newport, Rhode Island is a bustling, charming town on the water, filled with breathtaking views enjoyed by some of the East Coast’s wealthiest tourists and vacationers. This beach town is quickly becoming a favorite restaurant destination filled not only with great seafood places, but also charming farm-to-table restaurants producing well-executed dishes.
Thames Street Kitchen, or TSK, is a cozy BYOB restaurant that knows how to do comfort food right. The dark, warm lighting invites guests to stay — and perhaps never leave. The restaurant has a beautiful main table that can seat roughly 10 people as well as having two and four-top tables as well. It’s a perfect place for an intimate date night or a get-together with a large group. The cost-effective corkage fee also encourages guests to bring many bottles of their favorite spirits, while allowing them to watch the dicing and chopping take place in its open-air kitchen.
For a high-end experience filled with elegance minus the fuss, head over to a lovely boutique hotel, the Vanderbilt Grace, for luxurious afternoon tea. Guests can dine either in the conservatory or the outdoor garden and have an offering of traditional tea sandwiches, scones, cookies and pastries. The hotel also offers a variety of gluten-free and vegetarian options.
And no trip to Newport is complete without visiting the main town with local standbys like the Black Pearl, Clarke Cooke House, and Fluke. For a stellar lunch with a view, I suggest trying 22 Bowen’s Wharf, which has outdoor and upstairs balcony seating. You can dine on a delectable meal, all while taking in a view of the sailboats going in and out of the harbor. Armed with an extensive gluten-free menu, Bowen’s can cater to many different types of food allergies and intolerances.
While traveling to Newport, if you can manage to stay away from the large scale tourist traps, delve a little bit deeper into the culinary world of this beautiful seaside town. You won’t be disappointed.
Here are four delicious bites to eat, and one delicious sip to drink, while in Newport:
5 Bites (and Sips!)
This boutique hotel on Mary Street offers a variety of great breakfast and brunch options, but what’s really spectacular is its afternoon tea. The hotel was able to cater to my gluten intolerance and presented me with a three-tiered tray filled with tea sandwiches including smoked salmon, cucumber and egg; savory scones with peppers; chocolate chip cookies; and pound cake, all produced from a local gluten-free bakery. The item that surprised me the most was the savory scone. I was just waiting to slather my clotted cream and preserves all over the scone — then I noticed the peppers. While it was a standalone treat, I did add a little lemon curd on top, for that sweet and salty combination.
Arguably the best appetizer I’ve ever been presented with was the bone marrow with escargot and garlic chip at Thames Street Kitchen. I wasn’t even set on ordering the powerfully intriguing appetizer, but the sweet waitress said it was by far one of her favorites on the menu. The long bone with its succulent, moist marrow was topped with small pieces of escargot, garlic chips and a generous portion of cilantro for good measure. The dish is usually served with a crostini on the side which I left out, but the dish didn’t need another thing. It was packed with flavor and saltiness and a beautiful aroma that hung in the air of the restaurant long after I had devoured the dish.
While French food can oftentimes be heavy, when it’s done right, there’s nothing else like it. While dining in the quaint French bistro Bouchard, I wanted to immerse myself in the entire French experience. The waiter had suggested several specials but also one of the restaurant’s signature dishes: Homard et St. Jacques Cardinal Gratinée (a re-stuffed roasted lobster and scallops with truffle, Gruyère cheese, and lobster sauce.) The portion was more than generous and each bite was more decadent than the next. It was almost too filling, so much so that I thought about cancelling my Grand Marnier soufflé order, but then again, that just seemed ridiculous.
While in Newport, I visited the neighboring town of Portsmouth for a lovely vineyard tour and wine tasting. I was immediately drawn to the vineyard’s Skipping Stone White, a blend that is made up of 90 percent cayuga and 10 percent vidal blanc. It was the perfect balance between sweet and dry, and I couldn’t help but picture myself drinking a bottle on the beach paired with some prosciutto, olives, and hard cheddar cheese.
While I came to 22 Bowen’s for the spectacular harbor view, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of my lunch. Bowen’s has a gluten-free menu where they adapt certain dishes and showcase others that are without gluten. I wanted something light and chose the Caesar Salad sans croutons, topped with a piece of grilled salmon. What I received was an expertly-grilled and seasoned-to-perfection piece of fish. The Caesar was flavorful but not heavy, and a perfect complement to the salmon.
Kristen Oliveri is a special contributor to The Daily Meal.