Unfortunately, I don’t get to travel nearly as much as I’d like. Fortunately, many of my friends do. Recently, a good friend who is both a real foodie and really funny found out she’s moving to a new city. As with any move, there’s prep and scouting to be done, and in her case, there’s also training for her next stop.
I met this friend during one of my many degrees, and one thing is for sure. Great food is a priority, and she will try anything once, no matter how weird, wild, or indescribable it might be. This ends well more often than not, but when it doesn’t, there’s always at least a good story.
We should all be more like this friend, whom for work reasons we shall call Xanthippe because we studied rhetoric together and Xanthippe was married to Socrates and, well, because I just finished binging on the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
After a few days in Newport, Rhode Island, Xanthippe had a thing or two to say about the eating options and I somehow conned her into sharing them with you all as well.
Without further adieu, here’s the next installment in our guest post series. Enjoy!
Nom Nom Newport
Newport, Rhode Island is known for three things, 1) really, really, REALLY rich people (like the Kennedys) and their homes, 2) sailing, and 3) the Naval War College. I’m here on a government paid excursion for a brief stint at a class for that lovely Naval War College. And by lovely, I mean there is a nice historic section, and then the rest are government-built cinder block rectangles without any regard to aesthetics. One can choose to eat at the various galleys and clubs on the base or venture out to the myriad eateries out in the town. Luckily for you, I’ve been taste-testing and photographing my way through Newport when not learning secret squirrel stuff!
175 Memorial Blvd, Newport, RI 02840
So having just arrived in the Northeast, I had a hankering for a lobster roll. I’ve recently discovered these delightful sandwiches and frankly if you’re not north of New York, don’t bother ordering one. Anyways, Yelp pointed me in the direction of the Easton’s Beach Snack Bar. It was a pretty overcast and disgusting day, and so there weren’t many people out there. Apparently on busier days you have to pay about $15 to even park near the beach (gross). I ambled on up to the counter staffed with 7 college/high school aged kids and only 2 actually attempting to do work. For about $18 you get TWO lobster rolls and fries. It’s the best deal on the menu. It’s the best deal in Newport. Get the TWO lobster rolls and fries – they’re majestic. You can thank me later.
95 Perry Rd, Newport, RI 02841
First off, I was forced by my colleagues to go here, and it does have sweeping views, wood paneled walls, and an amazing lobster special on Thursdays. But, it’s standard pub food and packed during the weekdays for lunch. Perusing the menu, I noticed they had lobster rolls, too, with a whole pound of meat…at $38!!!! Now, I will drop a pretty penny on food, but I have not and will not spend that on a lobster roll. So I settled for the $12 lobster quesadilla instead. That was a poor decision. As far as lobster quesadillas go, it was fine. But it was ridiculously small, and I would have expected some guac to go with it. Instead I got minced pico de gallo ingredients and some mango dipping ‘salsa.’ My counterparts looked like they had some decent salads, but we all decided there was no need to return to this venue. To be fair, though, this was pretty creative and decent fare when you consider it was a government run venue. I’ve had some pretty bad food at O’Clubs before – one wedding sticks out in my mind in particular.
1 Sayers Wharf, Newport, RI 02840
So, it was my birthday, and considering I was eating by myself I decided to just go balls out and forget about being healthy. This is right on the main strip with waterfront views. Unfortunately, sometimes waterfront views equal mediocre food. It’s almost as if the owner thinks, they’ll be so enamored by the scenery they’ll ignore this polished turd on a plate. (Can you really polish a turd, though?) Luckily, this was not the case. This was solid in presentation, taste, and preparation. I started off with the lobster, crab, and other assorted seafood doughnuts with maple chipotle dipping sauce. Get these. They’re good. They’re just too much for one person to eat. But, seeing as I threw all my fucks out the door prior to sitting down for this meal, I ate them all.
Then the scallops came. Scallops are really my first love when it comes to food. If done properly and aren’t fake, they’re truly magical. All but one of my five scallops were perfectly seared (one was slightly undercooked) and served on a bed of potatoes, greens, crispy pancetta, and some really nice sauce. I enjoyed that thoroughly and slept pretty hard that night. It was quite the food baby being carried around in my belly.
665 W Main Rd, Middletown, RI 02842
So this is a quirky little place over in Middletown that we hit up as a group for lunch. It’s diner food but elevated a bit, and it has fun offerings such as potato, cheddar, and bacon puffs. Those certainly didn’t suck. I decided to try to be healthy-ish and ordered the Calamari Mexican Salad. Part of it was me trying to be healthy and part of the decision was a true curiosity regarding the ingredient pairing. So, it came out, and there was a lot of fried calamari, which is totally fine in my book. However, there wasn’t a lot of lettuce. It was the first time I’ve ever found myself wondering, “Where is the salad?” So the calamari was awesome and there were homemade tortilla strips to boot. However, the downside of the lack of salad was the oils from the calamari were all over and wilted the few sprigs of salad that existed. It turned into a strange oily mess. Tasty, but…I can’t believe I’m saying this…it needed more lettuce. However, everyone else’s food looked good, and one of my compatriots was very taken by their French Onion Soup, so if you’re looking to save a few bucks, head here.
140 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840
Let me just start by saying the décor in here is AMAZING. It’s got this weird 50’s tiki room/diner vibe with some unique taxidermy, and I think I even saw a voodoo doll in the rafters. So that’s automatically a plus. The place actually goes back a ways and there’s an outside patio for the days it isn’t grey and shitty outside. I started out with curried cauliflower bisque. It was drizzled with English Pea Vinaigrette and had a lump of spicy mango chutney in the center to mix in. I could have had bowlful upon bowlful of this amazing soup. I probably should have; however, feeling like I should make up for my previous binge, I decided to eat the spring vegetable quinoa. The presentation of this dish was delightful, but unfortunately some of the vegetables like the chickpeas and covfefe (Editor’s note: yes, she did this. Yes, I noticed. Yes, I left it) were woefully underprepared, and at least one of the stalks of asparagus was well beyond its ideal serving time frame. It was a good dish, but I feel like I should have just given into my inner food monster and gotten the Short-Rib Burger with Truffle Frittes or another bowlful of that soup.
311 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840
So I kept driving by this place which is open for breakfast and lunch and finally had the chance to stop by. I ordered a Ginger Berry Blast smoothie and one of their Original Bowls, which was a mixture of brown rice, scrambled eggs, salsa, and avocado. Okay, so I was still trying to be on a healthy kick. The smoothie was delightful and the original bowl was quite scrumptious…BUT THE SERVING SIZE?!?! I don’t typically complain about small dishes and certainly not when associated with fine dining. But when it was all said and done, I was 20 dollars lighter and not quite feeling full with these two items. That being said, these were probably the correct, healthy serving sizes and not the American McGrande sized portions we’ve all become accustomed to. It’s definitely worth a stop, just don’t go when your tummy is already rumbling.
162 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840
So I was really excited when I stepped into this restaurant which proudly boasts the best service in Newport, and found its walls adorned with Banksy-esque prints and Lucha Libre masks. I decided to order two of the most intriguing menu items, the Feta and Shrimp Dumplings and the Fried Lobster Legs Mofongo. The dumplings looked quite promising; however, as soon as I bit into them, I found myself wondering, “Where is the feta?” It was inexplicably missing. As a result, the chopped shrimp and vegetables all tumbled out. I can’t help but wonder if it was actually in there, would it have bound the components together better than what was presented to me? I should have asked about the feta but just moved on with my life.
Now onto the Mofongo. So, I’ve spent an ample amount of time in Puerto Rico and Mofongo is touted as the national dish. Mofongo is hard to explain, and I certainly don’t know how to actually make it, but here’s my jab at what an actual Mofongo is. Mofongo is plantains that are worked into a mash and them somehow fried. It forms a base that different seafood is incorporated into, sometimes with a sauciness that resembles a stew. What I ate at Caleb & Broad was a mofongo-inspired dish; it certainly wasn’t a true mofongo. For the most part it was good, but frankly the introduction of kale ruined it for me. To all the chefs of the world: Kale is a good and hearty vegetable but it should be used judiciously. Stop putting it on everything. And certainly, it doesn’t belong in a Mofongo.
382 Spring St, Newport, RI 02840
Why oh why did I wait until the last day to come here? My compatriots were talking about going to some Irish pub for lunch, and luckily I convinced them to head to this tiny little bakery just off of Thames Street (and about a block away from where JFK and Jackie were married). I ordered the Luxembourg Ham & Cheese, and while that sounds simple, the addition of caramelized onions and fig spread made this a truly rich tasting sandwich. I highly recommend it. One of my peers ordered the Ultimate Grilled Cheese, and frankly it looked so delicious I contemplated stabbing him and eating it over his dead body. I was also forward thinking enough to grab a few of their pastries for breakfast and let me tell you – the blueberry and lemon scone is a thing of beauty and scrumptiousness. Once again, this is a breakfast and lunch place only but well worth a stop to partake in their delightful sandwiches and sugary treats.
So there you go, my unfiltered and unhinged thoughts on 8 of Newport’s restaurants. If you ever find your way to the home of America’s aristocracy and want to venture off the beaten path of Thames, then hopefully I’ve steered you in the right direction!
Until my next food binge…
And until the next guest post! Thanks again to “Xanthippe” for the lesson in New England food philosophy.