Order this... Poached lobster at Restaurant 1879

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 7:45am

A year ago, Brad and Anne Marthens, owners of the Victorian-era Atlantic Inn, gave their dining room a new name — Restaurant 1879. Long recognized as one of Block Island’s best choices for fine dining, its style and menu were revamped along with the name.

Old friends of the Atlantic will remember the prix fixe dinner menu from previous years. That option is still available as the “Chef’s Tasting Menu,” but all food items can now be selected à la carte, as well. Executive Chef Evan Wargo described the new approach as “more Block Island.”

But no matter how the menu is offered, the choices are abundant, varied, carefully prepared and inventive. All produce is fresh and locally grown. The herbs are all from Anne’s garden. The combination of flavors and textures is creative and complex.

The Butter Poached New England Lobster from the current menu is a delicious example. The meat from a whole 1½ pound lobster is served over creamy popcorn grits (actual popped popcorn that has been dissolved to a sauce in cream and butter), with sauteed baby zucchini and radish slices, and a truffle corn custard timbale. Finally it’s drizzled with a basil lobster purée and garnished with bright nasturtiums. It’s served on a stone slate reflecting the new, slightly casual ambience of the restaurant. The meal is visually beautiful, with exquisite aromas and tastes.

About this dish, Evan said, “You can just enjoy it. The work is all done, and no bib is required.” Marthens recommended a good chardonnay or chilled rosé to go with it.

A favorite among diners is to enjoy drinks and tapas on the lawn before going in for dinner. Items from the tapas menu can be ordered in the dining room as well. 

Restaurant 1879 also offers a vegetarian menu and children’s choices are available, too. — Becky Ballard and Ruth Perfido

The Atlantic Inn is located off High Street. Call 466-5883 for more information.