Order this... Flavors from the sea at The Beachead
Many visitors who come to Block Island have a routine when they arrive — some go to their houses to unpack, some go right to the beach, and nearly everyone I interviewed for this article heads directly to the Beachead as soon as they disembark from the ferry. It’s that kind of place — right on Corn Neck Road across from the beach, easy to get to and easy to park near, a comfortable family restaurant with fresh seafood at reasonable prices and something for everyone on a varied menu. This year, in addition to their regular Monday through Friday $1 Buck-a Shuck Oysters from 3 to 4 p.m., the restaurant has added a local lobster menu featuring lobster four ways: Steamed, baked-stuffed, in a traditional roll, and chicken-fried.
The Beachead offers lots of great dining options, inside and out. Blue umbrellas dot the lower patio that gives diners street level views of cars driving by laden with chairs and boogie boards, walkers and bikers heavy with backpacks and plans for the day. An upper deck provides a roof for shade while you watch the ferries sail in and out of Old Harbor on the right, and to the left you’ll have a vista of Town Beach to Mansion all the way to the bluffs below the Maze. A private dining area out back lets big parties dine al fresco on four long wooden tables and benches that can seat up to 40. A tent provides shade and you’ll be looking out at a classic Block Island tangle of beach bramble, rosa rugosa, blackberry bushes, cattails and black-eyed Susans. A giant live lobster tank is a new focal point for indoor diners sitting at wood plank tables, and lifting your eyes you’ll see old Block Island license plates lining the walls below the ceiling.
Two standout dishes were served to us that highlighted new menu offerings for 2019. Chicken-fried Lobster was served with crab-fried rice combining textures and tastes for a light yet plentiful meal. The lobster is lightly steamed, dipped in buttermilk, flash-fried and then put back in the shell. Quick-frying lets the meat remain succulent while giving a nice snap to the dish without overpowering the taste of the lobster. A squirt of lemon and a dip in some melted butter make this presentation a great way to try a familiar staple. Crab fried rice was a perfect accompaniment as it was also light and lemony, a nice switch from the usual boiled potatoes. Another refreshing twist on a usual dish was the Beachead’s rendition of Tuna Poke. Dressed with a light sesame sauce and topped with pieces of mango and avocado, the poke was served atop a crispy rice cake, which gives the dish both heft and flavor. Sweet and salty, the crunch of the rice cake exterior contrasts with the soft sushi rice inside and the bright taste of mango lets the poke taste and texture stand on its own.
What everyone else is saying:
Boston residents John, Hally, Lucas and Clara were accompanied by Juliana of Brooklyn for their first time to the Beachead. They saw it on a map and liked that it was “right by the water”, so they came by to have lobster rolls, fish-and-chips, a fish sandwich and clam strips. “Everything here was hot, good and delicious. The wait staff was very friendly and we liked the laid-back vibe of the restaurant.” Youngsters Lucas and Clara had macaroni and cheese, which they said was an “8 1/2 out of 10” and “a 9 out of 10” respectively. Both gave the clam strips an emphatic “10 out of 10” because they were “hot” and “really good, and we’ve had lots of clam strips other places.” Jim, Star, Nicholas and Al from N.J. have been “coming here for years.” Jim (to his family): “Where do we go when we get off the boat?” Family: “The Beachead.” Jim: “Why do we come here first?” Family: “The Chowder!” Jim: “It’s a clear broth chowder, no cream, local clams. No one else has this. I’ve tried to find it everywhere in Rhode Island. I even called the distributor. They don’t have it. No one else has it but here. I could drink it by the gallon. I just ordered another one.” I asked him how his lobster roll was. Jim: “You know who the Everly Brothers are? They had these complicated harmonies, but made the songs sound beautiful and easy. This lobster roll is the Everly Brothers of lobster rolls. They do simple-but-complex very very well here.” The last group I spoke with was Ed and Tyler from Pennsylvania and Brenda and Rich from Maryland. Ed and Tyler were first-timers at the restaurant yesterday and came back today with new first-timers Brenda and Rich.
Rich said that “yesterday, when we came, I was expecting bar food, and this was much better quality and way better food. I had a chicken parmesan sandwich yesterday and today I had a hamburger. I’ll come back again this visit for sure.” Tyler had fish-and-chips yesterday and fried clams today, said they were “not too heavy and really good.” Brenda and Ed had a beet salad and baked haddock and thought both dishes were prepared “perfectly.” They said the “food is good, the view is nice and the parking is easy.”
Starting this Wednesday, you can enjoy a traditional lobster clambake party night at The Beachead for only $45 per person.
Reserve a spot on their website by clicking the lobster icon and up to 40 people will dine on lobster, steamed littlenecks, chorizo sausage, corn, red bliss potatoes and homemade strawberry shortcake. There are so many ways to enjoy a “Tank to Table” experience at this iconic restaurant that you’re sure to find one that suits every palate in your party.