The summertime seems to beg me to partake in its annual delicacies - lobster rolls, fried whole-belly clams, clam chowder and fish and chips. But my longtime favorite seafood shacks and restaurants have been given that distinction simply because I've been going to them for a long time.
So it came with great excitement and anticipation when readers of The Dinning Blog at theday.com voted for me to review a beach-side, seafood place that I had never tried before, the restaurant at The Pleasant View Inn in Westerly.
Located right on Misquamicut Beach, the restaurant is at the back of the inn, with ocean views from the dining room and bar. I went to the inn with my wife and son, who just turned 1. We decided to make a little day trip to Westerly and break up the outing with lunch at the inn.
Lunch seemed better suited for my son, who has firmly established 7 p.m. as his "bewitching hour," as my wife's come to call it. At that time, he seems to develop a flair for the dramatic, throwing silverware and French fries all over a restaurant's floor, then letting out primal grunts while other diners look on.
But anyone looking to bring kids to The Pleasant View Inn shouldn't have to worry. The atmosphere, at least at lunchtime, was very casual (I counted at least two guys walking around shirtless, one showing off some impressive tattoos). There were also other young families whose attire made it clear they had just stopped in after spending the morning at the beach.
The menu includes most of the seafood standards: clam cakes, lobster rolls, fish and chips, steamers, oysters and little neck clams. For people who aren't seafood eaters, there are plenty of pub fare options as well: the bistro burger with caramelized onion and olive caper tapenade, corned beef and pickle melt sandwich, and a turkey club.
My wife and I shared an order of a half-dozen clam cakes for an appetizer. They were the kind I like, a little on the smaller side with a good ratio of clam to cake. The outside was nice and crisp, and the inside was moist and flavorful.
For our main dish, we both ordered the lobster roll. The market price the day we were there was a little more than $18 a piece.
The lobster roll was very good. It was the cold, mayonnaise style rather than the warm Connecticut butter variety. There was a fair amount of celery in there as well. It was your typical lobster roll except for one thing: it came on a torpedo-style roll rather than the usual hot dog bun.
The inn offered a kids menu with a fairly wide range of kid-friendly meals. We ordered the mac and cheese, which seemed to be a Kraft variety.
My son enjoyed the meal, giving it two cheese-covered thumbs up. And the wait staff seemed genuinely unfazed by the fact that a fair amount of his meal wound up on the floor beneath his high chair. Our waiter told us his son was actually turning 2 this August (a sign that maybe he was used to this sort of thing).
Anyone who has ever brought a small child to a restaurant knows the other patrons can be an issue. Sometimes, they give you a look that says, "I came here to enjoy myself, not to listen to your kid scream and throw things."
But the crowd here seemed as though they were mellowed out by a day at the beach and happy to wave and make funny faces at the baby a table over from them.
I took a second trip to the restaurant and tried a few other dishes: an appetizer of oysters, fish and chips, and the corned beef and pickle melt. I sat outside this time, which I highly recommend if there's room out there.
The oysters were fresh and delicious, and something about eating them while looking out on Misquamicut Beach made them that much better. It costs $6.75 for a plate of four.
The seaport ale, tempura fish and chips were excellent (probably my favorite meal on the menu). The batter was the type that coats the fish rather than the flaky crust kind. It had a great seasoning, too. I went with the small plate, which cost $13.
The corned beef sandwich had an interesting twist to it. It came on small, butter-toasted pieces of rye bread, with dill pickle chips and melted Swiss cheese. The beef itself was distinct, cooked longer to create burnt ends. It cost $8.
You should know that, if you go for dinner, the menu is a bit different. I poked around at it online, and the options looked great. The raw bar and seafood standards are still there, but there's also broiled bomster sea scallops, fresh Block Island cod with lemon herb butter and panko crumbs, baked flounder stuffed with lobster, steamed lobster and New York strip steak, among other options.
If you're spending the day at Misquamicut Beach with the family and you need some lunch, or just looking for a new place to go for seafood, The Pleasant View Inn is a pretty sure bet.