Saturday, July 19, 2008


These scallops from Coast Guard House were perfect

OK people, I have to begin with an apology. Now as you know, I want to come to you every writing with witty prose about my culinary adventures and how I’ve adapted them into a spectacular recipe for your consideration (I say consideration because in the 5 months I’ve been writing this blog, I have no evidence anyone has actually COOKED one of my recipes). Well, this writing has no recipe and, in fact, the place I am going to mention had moderately good food, at best. But this place was about elegant ambience combined with a seafaring casual rooftop deck for cocktails that is rivaled by only a few places I’ve ever been.

There are many things right about “The Coast Guard House” in Narragansett, RI. Their Day Boat* menu is touted as first class and my meal reflected that. From the roof top deck, the cool New England ocean breeze was a lovely accompaniment to our cocktails. Our conversation was punctuated with the sounds of waves crashing over the rocks below. The sun sinking in the west left the eastern sky full of magentas and pinks and purples that would leave any artist wanting to capture this majesty.

The Coast Guard House has a rich history dating back to the turn of the last century. In the 100 plus years that this place has been around it has been battered by hurricanes and ravaged by fire, yet it remains. Narragansett itself is a little known gem. At one time Narragansett and Newport were parallel cities when it came to attracting the affluent New Englanders in the summer months. The Narragansett Pier and Casino were bustling with activity. As time wore on, however, Newport has taken over most of the tourist duties leaving the pristine beaches and quite communities around Narragansett an unguarded but special secret.

It was a breathtaking place to enjoy the company of my friends Michele and Tom. Michele has a cute little bungalow home in Narragansett just a few minutes from the beach. Starting with a glass of wine at her house, we planned on hitting a little shack near the beach for a famous local lobster roll. If you like lobster and have never had a New England lobster roll, you need to stop what you are doing, get a plane ticket to any coastal city in New England (Boston and Providence have decent air fares), and find a seaside hut whose menu is in the old press board style. There you will be able to order a lobster roll that will make you think Jesus is coming (Christian reference –rare for me). They are a non pretentious offering, similar to a crab or Tuna salad with a few vegetal offerings (celery, onion….etc) and mayo served on a plane white hot dog bun. The lobster, though, is usually so pure and fresh and … well… decadent that it shines through like in no other sea food salad I’ve ever tasted. OK Now, since those folks who have never had a lobster roll are on their way to the airport at the moment, I’ll continue on with my story for the rest of you that have.

Today was a Tuesday and the lobster shack that Michele wanted to take me to was closed on Tuesdays. Of course we were in the parking lot when we found this out. Bummer. Well we had passed The Coast Guard House a ways back and we were going to have cocktails on the deck after dinner so why not give dinner a go there. OK the plan was set. Back to The Coast Guard House it was then. We had an “in” at the restaurant too. It turns out Michele’s niece waits tables on the upper deck. This young, cute 18ish girl had one of the richest bronze tans I’d ever seen on a blond girl. It was quite evident that she took great pride in her tanning skills. She had been having a bad day but seemed happy to see Michele and I found her to be lovely. She recommended we eat downstairs in the dining room since the bar menu was more limited. So after our cocktails and conversation, Michele, Tom and I headed downstairs for dinner.

Now as you may know I typically only write about positive stuff because I hate being critical but I do need to be fair. Michele ordered the lobster ravioli and Tom ordered seafood pasta. Neither dish looked all that special and I tasted Michele’s ravioli. It tasted as though Chef Boyardee had a go at lobster ravioli. Sorry Coat Guard House but this wasn’t all that good. Perhaps had I paid a few dollars for it in a can from the local grocer, I would have felt different about it. Conversely, my scallops were obviously fresh and sweetly delectable. They were also huge and the accompanying braised potatoes and micro greens were an earthy treat. We also had a few steamers (steamed clams) and the accompanying grilled bread dipped in the clam broth was just heavenly. So, if YOU decide to check this place out, I recommend that you ask your waiter what came off the boat fresh that day and stay away from the pasta dishes. The service was also a bit slow. And it wasn’t very busy.

So mentioning the bad with the good was cathartic. I’ll have to remember that for the future. Other than this night, my week did not have any outstanding gastronomic adventures. I drove north from Rhode Island to the Maine/New Hampshire border. I had never been in to Maine before so I crossed the bridge in Portsmouth just to say I’d been. I hear there are a few quite spectacular offerings in Portsmouth and I’ll give them a go next time I’m there but I didn’t this visit. I ate at a Mexican place downtown that was yummy but I don’t think writing about the delicious Tamale I had would be all that special. I do have some recommendations for next time though. It looks as though I will probably be returning to Portsmouth in a few weeks for another assignment.

For those that have followed other adventures of ours, the boat is scheduled to be back in the water after a couple of months of repair. As usual, I will be weekending in Florida before returning for another fun filled week in Rhode Island. All of the kids are scheduled to be visiting this weekend so that will be nice too and we’ll have something fun to do. So until next time… ciao

*Day Boat refers to the notion that the fish caught are directly from the docs that “day”.

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