The journey continues from Nashua, New Hampshire to Westerly, Rhode Island. The Westerly area has long been a favorite vacation spot for New Yorkers and my family is no exception. We've been going since I was months old (for some perspective, I’m approaching my third decade). For me it’s a very special place; memories of tuna fish sandwiches on the beach and boogie boarding until my lips turned purple so I’m happy to share it with you. But not the tuna sandwich. For the first time in eight years my parents, sister and I reunited on the New England shore. After twenty years of visits our stomachs and palates are beyond familiar with the Westerly dining scene. Then again, a lot changes in twenty years. Some favorites, like Champlin’s in Point Judith, are still there and going strong. Others, like Mary’s, have since closed. And still more are recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy (my beloved Maria’s Seaside Café). This time we decided to head into Westerly itself and check out a new, trending spot called The Bridge.
After putting our names in with the hostess for an outdoor table (check out the awesome digital clock found on the hostess stand) we made ourselves comfortable at the bar. With the warm undertones of the wood and oversize windows I imagine this place being cozy through the colder months. A glass of red and a chunky sweater by the stone fireplace-yea, let’s not get ahead of our self, Erica.
The Bridge has an extensive drink menu so by the time I decided what I wanted the hostess called our name and led us outside. Isn't it amazing how simple, strung lights can make any setting seem more festive?
We poured over the numerous menu options but it turned out the specials that evening were more interesting than anything in print. Well, actually, the menu is quite interesting. I was very happy to see such a selection; especially the vegetarian options, which, for obvious reasons, can be a hard find in a seaside community. Take a look at some of their offerings,
Good stuff right? Now, for the specials. I ordered the cornmeal encrusted halibut with corn succotash and tomato chili tapenade. My parents both got the grilled sea bass with rice and we started with Rhode Island style calamari with peppers. Some say calamari is calamari wherever you go, but once you add those peppers you add a little something special. After all these years I can’t say I've had poorly prepared calamari in Westerly (Maria’s Seaside Café was one of the best I've EVER had and I anxiously await their reopening). It’s a menu staple; if you can’t make it right, you can’t be in business here. #youcantsitwithus
When our main dishes arrived I was initially confused by mine. My halibut was gently resting on what I thought was porridge. And then I found the corn. I haven’t ever had such a creamy succotash. Is that a thing? It tasted good and I assume it was supposed to enhance the cornmeal crust, which was VERY well done, but I still kinda looked at it with one eyebrow raised. I saw a drizzle of chili oil snaking along the side of the succotash so I mixed it in. There we go. That definitely helped the flavor profile by cutting the creaminess.
The fish itself was excellent. An encrusted fish that is still appropriately flaky is not an easy feat, especially with how many I saw them churning out over the course of the hour. Mine was delicious but my parents’ was better. The delicate bass flaked perfectly; a melt in your mouth, charred kind of wonderful. When fish is cooked this well it is a meal in and of itself , dropping the sides to the B-list. The Bridge kept it simple; pairing the bass with a tomato salsa and sides of leafy greens and brown rice helped keep attention on the fish. It’s this meticulous preparation and overall inviting ambiance that scored The Bridge its major points. When in Westerly, save some room for dinner at The Bridge.