Review: The Boat House

Interesting seafood and inspiring sunsets
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  May 25, 2010

Ah, feel that. Maybe this time it’s a spring breeze for real and won’t soon turn into a winter zephyr. Let’s celebrate, go out and grab a nice meal. Where to?

Well, one recent answer to the question that didn’t disappoint was the Boat House in Tiverton, within the gates of the Villages on Mount Hope Bay. It overlooks the wide expanse of the Sakonnet River, where we could watch others on sailboats working for their breeze. We sat in sympathy at a patio table, and I went so far as to sip a Rhode Island iced tea (Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, Caravella Limoncello) and raise it in salute. It’s unusual to find a bar with a view of the sunset, so this one must be pretty popular around that time of day. 

The Boat House | 227 Schooner Dr, Tiverton | Mon-Sat, 11:30 am-9 pm; Sun, 11 am-9 pm | 401.624.6300 | Boathousetiverton.com | Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Access

The Boat House proprietors are fully aware of their location and advantage, providing windows that fold open to the outside. The interior is fairly inviting as well, with a large central bar, elaborately set tables, and comfortable looking booths. There is a nautical decor with such touches as maritime flags and posters depicting sea coasts around the world. Wine bottles are prominently on display, and there is a broad selection, two Sakonnet whites the only local offering, California prominent among the more than two dozen available by the glass.

Their specialty cocktails are dominated by rum concoctions, as befits sipping under the sun. Their draft beers include outliers such as Peroni, an Italian lager, and Castle Hill Windward Weiss, a local wheat beer. The Boat House is one of the Newport Restaurant Group’s eight establishments, most upscale and featuring seafood, including 22 Bowen’s in Newport and, more recently, Hemenway’s in Providence. Corporate culture can be a good thing.

The spring menu uses the season nicely. There is a raw bar, of course, and the salads have interesting touches, such as black grape vinaigrette dressing field greens ($6); and a jam-packed Asian salad ($8) that contains tatsoi as well as Napa cabbage, arugula, and pea greens.

Intrigued by their award-winning Hall of Fame chowder ($6), I was pleased with the creamy concoction, which was spicy hot from flecks of chourico. It also contained baby Maine shrimp and corn, textured on top with Panko crumbs. I also got to taste their clam chowder ($5), chock-full and creamy, when it was brought first by mistake.

Johnnie started out with their stuffed portobello ($8), and while its wealth of ingredients appetizingly included spinach, roasted garlic, roasted red pepper, and fontina, her taste buds were pummeled by the one-two-three punch of both the red peppers and artichoke hearts being vinegar-marinated, in addition to balsamic. Interesting appetizers she wished she had given a chance instead included Maine lobster fritters ($12), Thai-style mussels ($9), and a coconut-curry broth.

There are three panini sandwiches available for modest appetites. But the main proposals start with a “Simply Sea” listing ($18-$22) of fish — Atlantic salmon, Gulf mahi-mahi, and Ahi tuna — and a scallops and shrimp combination. Johnnie wasn’t disappointed by her mahi-mahi, not a large portion but flavorful, grilled to brown but moist inside. She chose the tomatillo-basil green sauce with no regrets. To supplement the generous garnish of arugula, pea greens, and caramelized red onions, she had a mashed potato side ($5): creamy, golden with butter, and sensibly served in a heat-retaining cast-iron skillet.

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