Order this... The Oar
Some things just go together…summer and watermelon, the Great Salt Pond and boats, The Oar and mudslides. But there’s more to The Oar than its famous drink — try their sushi and you’ll realize there’s a new partnership in town —TJ and Thaddeus. TJ is on his third year as the sushi chef, Chef Thaddeus comes from 10 years in the business, and they’re collaborating on a great menu this year. Look for new offerings like ceviche, along with daily special sushi rolls all summer long. After the Fourth of July, the raw bar will debut a lobster cocktail — a whole cracked chilled lobster with melted herbed butter and horseradish cocktail sauce. You can pair it with the drink of the day, such as a Caribbean Iced Coffee or a fun cocktail called Sake on the Beach. Head bartender Meredith suggests that you try a new Boston-distilled Ghost Tequila in one of The Oar’s many drinks, like their Sunday Bloody Maria, which comes with a shrimp cocktail garnish. A selection of Rhode Island beers like Whalers Rise, Newport Craft Beer and Comfortably Unaware (a Citra hop IPA) would pair well with the any of the special Race Week rolls and raw bar items that will be showing up on the menu to celebrate the Storm Trysail event.
Lots and lots of oars, some going back as far as 1967, hang on the walls and ceilings. Each is decorated with people’s names and artwork, and many are signed by the group that created them. “BI Dogs Rule,” “As the Whale Turns 1992,” “Happy 40th Terri,” “The Crew” denote some of the many oars you’ll see while eating some of the freshest food around. Out on the deck you’re looking out on Great Salt Pond watching boats come and go, or you’re oohing and ahhing as the sky lights up with a sunset that paints the sky orange and purple. On the lawn you’re sitting at a picnic table watching kids and adults playing corn hole and waiters and waitresses bustle back and forth with trays laden with appetizers and The Oar’s famous mudslides. Two different colored umbrellas denote which menu you can order off — tan umbrellas are for tapas, green is for the lawn menu, and a full menu is served indoors and on the deck. Customers are wearing shorts, t-shirts with the restaurant’s logo from years ago, windbreakers bearing the name of the boat they came in on and beat up sneakers and sandals.
TJ, Thaddeus, and Phil on the sushi bar served us a delicious array of seafood highlighting the range of what The Oar has to offer on the raw seafood front. Local Block Island oysters were a sweet morsel of ocean and shellfish, the cherrystones and shrimp went down beautifully with a touch of wasabi cocktail sauce on each. A new-to-the-menu Red Dragon Roll had a nice kick of heat with each bite from a wasabi aioili that married the flavors of panko shrimp, pico de gallo, scallion, eel sauce and raw tuna. TJ’s Tuna Loco showed off the taste of fresh bright tuna rolled with spicy mayo, avocado, kimchi sauce and tempura flakes. Catherine Puckett’s kelp, farmed straight from Great Salt Pond, is the star ingredient in Sugar Kelp Salad. Shredded for easy eating, the chefs let the kelp’s rich, savory umami flavor speak for itself with just a hint of sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and cilantro. Our tasting of the sushi menu concluded with a ceviche dish that had us wishing it was served in a bowl so we could drink the leftover juice. Octopus and fresh salmon pieces were bathed in a yuzu juice sauce and well matched with chopped red onion, tomato, cilantro and jalapeño. Each bite was a burst of summer flavor that tasted clean, refreshing and left us longing for more.
The Oar has an extensive menu, and we sampled crunchy-yet-creamy crab cakes with red pepper coulis and lemon dill sauce and a Southwestern Salad with greens, roasted corn salsa, black beans, onion, fresh pico, Monterey Jack cheese, grilled shrimp and spicy avocado lime dressing. The salad and crab cake are excellent choices if you’re looking for a lighter lunch or prefer your seafood cooked. But if you really want to treat yourself, order the Lobster Club Sandwich. Inspired by a traditional lobster roll, the Oar’s version of a classic club takes chunks of freshly cooked lobster, places them on top of a tomato and crisp lettuce with just enough mayonnaise to give the sandwich a creaminess that lets the lobster taste burst through. Toasted sourdough bread elevates this sandwich into the realm of “I know I said I would share this with you but it’s so good I want to have it all to myself.”
What are people eating/drinking:
Cliff and Stephanie from Block Island and New Jersey come to The Oar frequently and enjoy the mahi mahi, sashimi, raw bar. Steph notes, “The Bloody Marys are really good.” They were eating with Rick and his son Griffin from Maine, both here for the first time — Rick was eating the fish and chips and Griffin pronounced the lobster roll “excellent.” Another local patron was eating a burger, and said, “it’s the best food on the island for the buck, plus it’s easy to get in and out quickly.” Peter from Sag Harbor, N.Y. was just in from a sailing race and said that the lobster salad and mudslide “were the best two things I’ve ever eaten and drank.” He also mentioned that the service was “excellent.” Katherine, Lauren, and Lisa from Boston were “biking around and we stopped at The Oar and had the best sushi ever.” They ordered a Candy Cane Roll and said it “melts in our mouths, hit all the flavor palates we had.” Oysters were “briny and sweet” and the mudslides were “amazing.” All three agreed that “we felt like we were in a different world and would definitely come back. It’s nice and low-key and you feel like you’re a local when you’re there.”
Come for the mudslides and stay for the sushi. There’s something on the Oar’s menu that is sure to fit your taste, and the view is not to be missed.
The Oar is located on Jobs Hill Road. The phone is (401) 466-8820.