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Newport: Drinks, Dinners and Post-Dinner Plans

Hello fellow Hounds, new to this section of the boards and very excited to be here. Next weekend I'm taking my girlfriend to Newport for a long weekend. I've got 3 parts to my post here...

The first 2 parts are tied together. Right now I'm thinking about Fluke's, The Mooring and Tucker's Bistro for our 3 dinners. My main concern with dinner is that the food has to be great, we're not snobby but are both New Yorkers and know good food. I don't want to break the bank at any one place (as I've read is easily done at The Red Parrot). I'd like to stay in the $40-75 range per person. At least one dinner needs a spectacular view. How "nice" it is really isn't that important, just that the food is great. Alongside that, we'd like to find some places to grab a drink beforehand if there's anything convenient to the restaurants.

The last part is, what's there to do in Newport at night? Are there any fun bars? Any special place to go for just dessert? It doesn't seem like there's a music scene at all (at least according to Pollstar, there's nothing for the next 2 months). We're in our 20's and for the most part want a relaxing weekend, but for Friday or Saturday night if we want to go out, what are our options?

Thanks all!

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  1. there are colleges in newport and so yes! there is a night life. I dont know which ones are good, it's been years....but the bars are never hard to find.

    1. Food in Newport in general will not compare to New York - the three places you have chosen are all good. The Mooring is the only one with a view - oh, actually, Fluke does have a view, I've only had snacks there and they were pretty good. No particular place for desert, but the Cooke House has one great option, Snowball in Hell (you must like chocolate) the bar scene is also fun there, dancing downstairs and a little more upscale upstairs - the music scene is the Newport Blues Cafe (that's it) - you might want to go for character over the actual food - Fifth Element is a fun bar and has great food, it's casual and not particularly romantic. Perro Salado is good interesting mexican w/ great drinks. Zelda's has bistro type food and a small crowded and fun bar. Your info about the Red Parrot is incorrect, it's not expensive - but it's not really worth the visit.

      1 Reply
      1. re: harryharry

        Agreed: Red Parrot is pretty cheap and pretty meh.

      2. For the special dinner try the Inn at Castle Hill. Quite a spectacular location, altho at nite you wont be able to see too well. They also do a fabulous Sunday brunch.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ellensp

          I agree that Castle Hill is great for a special dinner, but it may be too $$$$ for the OP. At the very least, I would recommend at least a stop for a before dinner drink. I would dress a little warmer so I could sit outside, grab a drink and take a walk on the lawn and watch the sunset.

        2. Agree with the Cooke House for the quintessential Newport scene. Castle Hill is a knockout experience - but have LUNCH there to get the daytime view and avoid breaking the bank. Dinner at Pasta Beach for fab italian food (and walk down the street for a drink at the Chanler beforehand for another amazing view). Skip the Red Parrot, definitely skip the Mooring. Perro Salado is a great place to end the night.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kitzy

            Agree w/all of this except I always have a good meal at The Mooring.

          2. zelda's for dinner and bar is fun but small

            west deck for upscale bar scene

            clarke cooke house downstairs bar - aka "The Candy Store". It is like going to a friends house for a dance party

            1 Reply
            1. re: tfed

              Do you mean the basement dance club? That is the Boom Boom Room. The Candy Store is simply the ground level restaurant & bar at the CCH. But I hear people say that all the time.

            2. Pop Kitchen+Cocktails is fun at night. Right down the block, Salvation Cafe is one my favorite fun places in Newport. Pour Judgement is a neat, modern beer bar.

              Fluke, if I remember, didn't have much of a view, as harryharry writes below, but it is modern and the menu sounds interesting (had a nice glass of veltliner there but no food).

              I second Cafe Zelda. Tucker's BIstro. Scales and Shells (for raw bar and lobster fra diavolo).

              I recently had a tasty lunch at Loca. I have not yet made it to Perro Salado, but I have heard great things. The space is really unique, if that means anything to you.

              1. Just wanted to pop back in and report on our experience this past weekend.

                Thursday Dinner: I had the scallops, which were a generous portion of perfectly cooked sea scallops, over an incredibly bland pumpkin risotto. My GF had a fettuccine special with littleneck clams. The dish was way over-seasoned, and while you could tell that the base ingredients were tasty, it was too salty to completely enjoy. The restaurant was near empty, our waiter was very kind and brought us complimentary dessert drinks (something made with Baileys that was delicious).

                Friday: We didn't have anything set except for dinner. We wound up at Gary's Handy Lunch for breakfast, which was not very good, decent at best blueberry pancakes, my GF's home fries were bad, and they hit one of our biggest nerves...ordering chocolate milk from a restaurant and they just bring out a bottle of Nesquik, gross.

                For lunch we wound up at The Black Pearl and sat outside as the weather was beautiful. We shared the NE clam chowder which was great, as were the PEI mussels. We also had a lobster "salad" sandwich which was just bad, who serves this with a tomato on it? We knew it was coming on a croissant, but had no idea it would be a bad croissant.

                For dinner we went to Perro Salado, which wound up being the most disappointing meal of the trip. We had the guacamole appetizer which was under-seasoned, though the tostones were good. My crab quesadillas seemed a bit off; the lump crab meat was tasty, but the rest of the dish was overbearing. GF's beef tostada was terrible, she had 2 bites and they wound up taking it off our bill. She also had a side of grilled corn, which was not grilled, and she said was just OK. One other thing of note which bothered us was that her margarita came in an Old Fashioned glass, something seemed off about that. The service was very good, we liked the atmosphere, the food was unfortunately bad.

                On Saturday, I can't recall where we had breakfast, it was on Thames not too far from Bowen's Wharf vicinity, we just had eggs and bacon so nothing special to report. For lunch, we went to the Bowen's Wharf Seafood Festival which was a lot of fun. The raw clams and oysters were great, as were the steamers. The lobster roll was the real deal (meat on a hot dog bun, how it should be). The crab cake was solid, the shrimp cocktail was incredibly succulent, and these "lobster fritters" from one of the restaurants located on the Wharf were just terrible.

                For dinner we went to The Mooring. Our waitress refused to serve alcohol to my GF because she forgot her ID at the hotel - we're both in our mid20s but can pass for 30, I can't remember the last time a restaurant carded either of us. Anyways, I ran back to the hotel since it was not far away, but this put a bit of a bad taste in our mouth from the start. Is this really a problem in restaurants where the bill easily totals $100+ per couple? Anyways, we split the scallop chowder, which was good, but didn't really think it was "award winning" as they claim. The calamari appetizer was good, nothing standout. For dinner we shared the grilled Idaho trout. It was a very good piece of fish, but the seasoning killed it. The peaches were very good that accompanied the dish. For dessert we shared the Churros y Chocolate, which were just that. We each only had a few bites to have something sweet to finish the meal and immediately our stomachs started to hurt us.

                So overall, we were a bit disappointed by the food (if that wasn't evident). There were standouts, the city is pretty and quiet (which is what we really went there for), the service was good just about everywhere. I'm thinking Newport is a city we'll cross off our list to visit, not sure we'll be back again any time soon, though if we do I'll keep Zelda's and Castle Hill in mind. Thanks again to everyone for your suggestions

                6 Replies
                1. re: fishermb

                  " Is this really a problem in restaurants where the bill easily totals $100+ per couple?"


                  The ABC hits all types of restaurants. It may have been an inconvenience, but the waiter was doing his job. Newport restaurants and bars get fined, and worse, all the time for underage drinking. Perhaps NY isn't very tough WRT to carding, but New England is notorious for it.

                  You say refusal of service put a bad taste in your mouth, but how is that the restaurant's fault? Your GF should've had her license. In the industry, we're always told that if someone is over 21, he has his license with him. Don't blame the restaurant for doing their job well (especially if you're only in your mid-twenties, which isn't unreasonable for carding at all).

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    invino: The main fact I left out here was that the waitress asked for my girlfriend's ID, but not mine. She asked her for her ID, said sorry I can't serve you, and then took my drink order and served it to me without ever asking for my ID. We're only a few months apart, so obviously the server did not do her job well, according to you.

                    We were more just annoyed by this fact because honestly, neither of us could recall the last time that we were carded for drinks at a restaurant. We had drinks at 5 restaurants (including 1 bar) over the course of the long weekend and The Mooring was the only which asked for ID. It just seemed strange because of all places, usually the nice/upscale ones don't ask for ID.

                    1. re: fishermb

                      You must've looked of legal age to the waitress. Why else would she only card your GF? Props to the Mooring for abiding by the law.

                      I'm a sommelier at a "nice/upscale" place, and our policy is to card anyone who looks under 35, or face termination.

                      Sorry Newport didn't wow you culinarily. I've never been blown away there, either.

                  2. re: fishermb

                    Where was that first dinner? Not sure if I missed it but I don't see a restaurant name. For best in the city I'd have gone w/Castle Hill or Spiced Pear, but you stated budgetary limitations so those were out. Zelda would've been a good choice. I've never heard of Perro Salado but in general I wouldn't go to an ocean resort in New England and expect to be wowed by Mexican food.

                    1. re: JaneRI

                      Jane, you are correct I forgot to mention, it was Tucker's Bistro. I looked into Castle Hill and Spiced Pear but they just seemed to be too pricey. Every review I read on Perro Salado on Chowhound was favorable, it seemed like a good mix-up to the near-pure seafood schedule we had planned. Obviously it was not.

                      invino: It's obvious your position here, but the fact is, we're both 23 years old. If I look like I'm older than 35 to this waitress, then she perhaps needs lessons in how to identify age by looks. You either look like a kid, an adult, or an elder, and you can look like an adult as early as 16 (I know I used to pass for 21 when I was 16). Your sticking up for The Mooring doesn't make sense, she should've carded both of us - as a common courtesy to my date AND because there's no way I would pass for 35 (umm, especially if the waitress thought my date was younger than 21, that would just be creepy if a 35 year old was dating an 18 year old). Apparently working at a "nice/upscale" restaurant just might mean they teach you rules, but no clue how to enforce them properly.

                      1. re: fishermb

                        I said nothing about the Mooring having a 35+ policy. I said MY place of employment uses such a standard. The waitress probably thought you looked of age and your date didn't. Why is that so unfathomable?

                        If you're both 23, you can't seriously be bothered she carded your date. Sorry, I don't find carding or not carding a practice of common courtesy.

                  3. never liked Garys for breakfast as well. Diner food at best, although it is a local favorite

                    Perro is good for starters - main courses are amazingly expensive for mexican food

                    The ID situation is what it is . If you are both 23 you need to carry ID - I cant believe that you have never been carded before - so you know the deal

                    In general, no matter where you go, the most expensive food and the most mediocre food is in the tourist area