Order this... Fresh seafood at McAloon’s

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 9:00am

McAloon’s is a perfect example of what makes Block Island such a special and unique place to live and work.

It’s not just the obvious beauty of the island, the ocean, the open land, the dog-friendly-laid-back atmosphere that permeates life here… it’s the camaraderie of the people who live and work here, and that was evident in my conversation with Kathleen McAloon. Kathleen has worked in many restaurants in the past 20 years, and on June 1, 2016, she officially opened her own place on Corn Neck Road. Grinnel Cabinet Makers worked with her in creating a bright, open space with a fabulous bar that came from a theatre in Warwick and other details that make the space feel like home. Kathleen likened the woodworker to Mary Poppins, as he pulled out one fixture after another from his bag that “would look perfect” in various spaces around the bar. 

Besides her staff and customers, Kathleen has a real appreciation for her fellow business owners.  When the restaurant was just about to open, crews from The Beachead and The Oar came by to help make her opening a success. When her walk-in broke down, nearby restaurants let her store her food in their fridge until hers was fixed. The community on Block Island also benefits from Kathleen’s generosity. In the off-season McAloon’s serves $15 dinner specials that often feature foods made at the request of her customers.

McAloon’s is known for many favorite dishes — the Salmon BLT, many kinds of burgers, including the Hangover Burger and Jalapeño burger, but they are especially renowned for their made-from-scratch chicken fingers. The restaurant took third place in the BIMI Chowder festival this past May — so perhaps a new favorite will emerge this summer. 

Chef Jason Shawley has been in the culinary business for over 20 years, inspired to become a chef from his uncle, a culinary professor. 

What made you come to Block Island? 

I came to visit some friends and it was a gorgeous place, I worked at the Beachead and then three years ago I became the chef here.

What do you like about working at McAloon’s?

I am excited about the fresh seafood; it’s great to be able to get fish right off the boat — you can’t do that in too many places. I like to get a fresh striper and cook it up with a tricolor tortilla crust, saffron tomato reduction and some roasted fennel.  I also like the environment here—it’s clean, friendly, and I have free reign in the kitchen.

What dish do you like to make that you wish more people would order?

I love this dish I call “Lobster on Steroids” — it’s a baked stuffed lobster that has three kinds of crabmeat — lump meat, jumbo lump meat and claw meat, and then it’s stuffed with shrimp and scallops. I also think the grilled oysters, tuna salads and raw bar are really good, and the specials are the best.

Where do you go when you go out and what do you order? 

I go to TigerFish and order the specials, and I also like sushi from The Oar.

What would you never eat again?

Chicken livers! I don’t like the texture or the taste.

If you were on a deserted island, what would you take with you? 

Easy — my chef’s knife.

Who was your most memorable customer?

The Irish Ambassador — he ordered a Guinness and I think he had some of our reuben eggrolls. He and his wife were really nice. 

What would be your last meal?

Deep dish pepperoni pizza or Kat’s lasagna.

Jason served me the baked stuffed lobster, and it was a sight to behold. The scallops were tender with a nice sear and the shrimp were plentiful, spread among the cavity of the body. The crabmeat was lightly breaded and I could taste both the butter and the fish, which went well with the lobster meat and other shellfish in the dish. A little lemon juice from a starburst cut lemon made the seafood shine. 

McAloon’s has a varied menu with seafood, pub food and of course traditional Irish food. If you missed St. Patrick’s Day this year, you can still enjoy corned beef, cabbage and all the fixings at the half-way to St. Patrick’s Day party on Sept. 17.  During the summer, live music (weather permitting) on Saturday and Sunday afternoons make McAloon’s a great place to grab a Guinness and enjoy some good pub food.