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Block Island is For Seafood Lovers

Posted August 13, 2012 by Mary Kong-DeVito in Travel

I treat vacations like a supermarket game show, running down the streets with arms wide, shoving as much food into my mouth as I can before it’s time to go.

On the quaint little bump in the ocean known as Block Island, Rhode Island, I felt like the next lucky contestant on the Price is Right.

Freshly-caught fish, shrimp, scallops, lobster and clams appear in every form, and are thrilling prospects for seafood lovers.

Difficult to get to, I had to take a train to a cab to a ferry to reach Block Island, where gypsy cabs cost $9, no matter how far I went around the 10 square-mile island. Most cab drivers are locals who have day jobs but earn extra money during peak season by ushering tourists around in their personal vehicles. It’s perfectly safe and everyone is ultra-friendly.

The island is so tiny that houses don’t have addresses but “fire numbers” for the fire department in case of emergencies. I’m surprised phone numbers have the standard ten digits. “Operator, please connect me to 6. Thank you.”

Stay at Dewey Cottage ($75-300/night) which is a charming, drool-worthy 1906 farmhouse with old country furniture and lace curtains. A full, hot American brunch buffet includes eggs, meats, fresh fruit, baked beans and a whole, freshly-caught fish. My kind of breakfast. After dinner, stop by sister property Hotel Manisses for a flaming coffee, also known as Andy Dick on a coke rager.

One of the things I always order when visiting New England is fried whole clams–not the flaccid pencil erasers restaurants try to pass off as clam strips–I mean whole belly clams ($14.50) like at Finn’s, where they’re plump and juicy, coated in a light, flour-cornmeal crust. You’ll never go back to clam strips again. Skip the overly-rich stuffed Quahogs ($7.50, pictured below), which are all stuffing and no clam, topped with Jack cheese and bacon.

Block Island’s most popular restaurant, The Oar, is famous for its incredible view of Great Salt Pond as well as frozen Mudslides that will knock you on your face.

Get the grilled diver scallops ($18.75) which are sweet, tender and creamy. Don’t bother filling up on the black beans and rice. That’s valuable Mudslide real estate there.

Watch the boats come in across Water Street at Rebecca’s, which is a super-casual seafood shack with an ever-changing menu. Get the clam cakes, which are more chewy hush puppy than fritter or cake. They taste boldly of onions and clams, and at 6 to an order, will fill you up quickly. Like just about everything on Block Island, they come with a side of tartar sauce.

My only gripe is the lobster salad rolls, which are served in a cradle of lettuce on a hot dog bun. Nothing like the classic lobster rolls on buttered, split-top rolls you’d find in the rest of New England. Almost as an apology, lobster club sandwiches can be found everywhere. Chunks of lobster with lettuce and tomato on white bread make for an easy, light, decadent lunch after hiking, swimming or scooting around the island.

Address Book

Hotel Manisses and Dewey Cottage, 5 Spring Street, Block Island, RI. 401.466.2421
Finn’s Seafood Restaurant,
Water Street, Block Island, RI. 401.466.2473
The Oar, 221 Jobs Hill Road, Block Island, RI. 401.466.8820
Rebecca’s Seafood Takeout, 435 Water Street, Block Island, RI. 401.466.5411

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About the Author

Mary Kong-DeVito

Mary grew up in New York where the food-centric city and her family's restaurants were literally her playground. Instead of eating dirt, she ate duck blood and rotten eggs. You never know what you'll find on the sidewalks.Mary is a veteran of the hospitality industry who's worked with numerous celebrities such as Barbra Streisand, Patrick Ewing, Vanessa Williams, Michael Stipe and Jane Krakowski. Her writing has appeared in DC Modern Luxury, Washington Post Express, Eater, Scoutmob, Washington Flyer and Washington City Paper.She eats "normal" stuff too, like cheeseburgers. Kangaroo cheeseburgers.