I hope you’re ready for more of my adventures in Rhode Island! This is part two of three and don't think you'll be disappointed, I certainly wasn't. Most of my memories of Rhode Island reside between sand and sunshine but my favorite ones are in Watch Hill. Watch Hill is a rocky enclave of some of the most gorgeous homes in Westerly. Memories there center mostly on the century old carousel, desperately reaching for that brass ring, and ice cream at St. Clair’s. Now that I’ve put a few more years between myself and 1991, I wanted to make new memories by visiting some local venues. These venues, like the brass ring at the carousel, were just out of my reach as a youngster. These included The Olympia Tea Room and the crown jewel of Watch Hill, The Ocean House.
Much to the dismay of my sister I, borderline vehemently, pushed my family to do drinks and appetizers at the Ocean House. As a child I often wondered what the dilapidated yellow behemoth was doing atop a hill besides taking up space. Yes, it was a stunning piece of architecture but even I knew at young age that it was in need of some paint. And screws. And shingles.
The breathtaking building and property had fallen into such a ruined state that it was closed in 2003 and completely renovated top to bottom. Through careful reconstruction, The Ocean House went from 1868 to 2004 in one year. The Victorian beauty remains just that, a beauty. Many a drive by the property gave fleeting views of the verandah and gardens but I always knew there was more. The main dining room and other parts of the property are for guests only but The Verandah and its small bites menu are open to anyone.
To accompany our wine and sweeping coastal views we ordered the “Best of Rhode Island” platter and a root beer braised pulled pork. The platter was an array of local products like jam, prosciutto, bread and cheese. Normally I wouldn’t pair my Albariño with a nutty piece of multigrain bread slathered with local raspberry jam but when jam is this good, you make exceptions. I wish I had jotted down the name of the farm that made it. I absolutely appreciated the twist on pulled pork; the root beer flavor was subtle and the meat was expertly cooked. Our plates clean and drinks finished meant it was time to move on.
The Olympia Tea Room wasn’t ever really out of my reach as a child; my sister and I just begged for the fried goodness that roadside seafood shacks tend to offer. Located directly across the harbor, everyone clamors here to enjoy their meal with a swirling sunset. We arrived at 5:15pm and had to put our names on a wait list 45 minutes long. By the time we left I heard the hostess say it was an hour and fifteen minutes. The menu had some international riffs, like my dad’s seared scallops with bok choy and my sister’s Korean barbecue ribs. Other choices were more traditional; my mother ordered a delectable swordfish and shrimp scampi and I (ambitiously) ordered a whole flounder. The buttery breadcrumbs gave the fish so much extra flavor that I removed the bones and picked them clean.
A trip to Watch Hill isn’t complete without ice cream at St. Clair’s. It’s simple, tasty, and generously scooped ice cream. You need to go because I guarantee that if you tell people you went to Watch Hill, they will ask you if you went to St. Clair's.
Fully satiated, we piled in the car and drove back to Misquamicut and there was only one thought on my mind: breakfast. Check back soon for the last Rhode Island installment on, you guessed it, breakfast. Until the next dish, ciao!