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Dining Review of Thames Street Kitchen, Newport RI

thames street signWe met some friends this weekend in Newport at Thames Street Kitchen for dinner.  Cheri and I have never been here before, and one of the other couples had not either.  New restaurants can be fun, or not, but at least the company would be good so we would enjoy ourselves one way or another.  Overall we had a great time, but I’m not sure we would return on our own anytime soon.  This place has good points and not so good points, and they tend to balance out to a level that for us would not draw us back.  The food was very good.  The atmosphere was not great.  The location is not great.  The parking, especially in the summer, is a pain in the butt.  It is a BYOB, so that’s a big plus, and we availed ourselves of that feature liberally.  Here’s some notes on the experience:

The Place: the restaurant is a low, single story shingled building right on Lower Thames Street.  There is thames st frontlimited to no on street parking nearby, so in the summer months when the resident parking is in force it is challenging.  We parked about a quarter mile away on Spring Street.  Fortunately it was a nice night, but on a night with inclement weather this would be a rather large inconvenience.  Cheri and I arrived first, and we were seated at a rustic high top table that could seat 10-12, but which they had put a divider on and split.  There was a couple  seated right next to us at the same table.  I’m not a huge fan of this, and we were very skeptical right out of the gate.  The rest of the tables are across the front of the restaurant looking at Thames Street, and are very closely packed together.  This is a tight space, and it is also a loud one.  With windows all along the front and the big kitchen windows opposite sound tends to build here.  There were a lot of “What?” replies during dinner as we struggled to maintain conversation without yelling.  The view out the front windows is pretty dismal.  You do not come here for the ambiance.

The Service: this was good, and the waitress was attentive without being in your face.  She quickly opened our wines and brought over glasses.  I could do with a more proper wine glass, especially if I’m being charged $5 a head corkage.  The food arrived together and hot.  Courses were well spaced.  All in all we have no complaints with the wait staff.  They were quite good, in a laid back but professional kind of way.

The Food: very good, at least from what I tried and saw.  No one complained about their meal.  There were ample choices on the menu, but no real specials, and we ended up getting three entree choices between the six of us.  Five different appetizers found their way to the table, although two of these were listed as “Sides” on the menu.  Here they are:


Swiss Chard Pancake with Creme Fraiche – the person who ordered this liked it very much.  It was a good sized portion as well.

Beef Tartare with Caper Berries and Artichoke – this was mine, and it was delicious.  Not a huge portion of beef, but the tartare was perfectly seasoned and fresh.  I loved it.

Oysters on the Half Shell with Rhubarb Mignonette –  they looked good, and their owner proclaimed them as excellent.

Duck Confit with Grapefruit, Wasabi and Arugula –  this was a nice looking piece of duck.  My friend wasted little time in erasing it from his plate, so I can only surmise it was excellent.

Greens – this is listed as a side, and services as the house salad.  A little on the small side but the vinagrette was tasty.


Fried Chicken over Honeyed Spaetzle – I had this along with one other diner, and it was hot, juicy, flavorful and a rather large portion to boot, especially considering the tendency here towards smaller amounts of food.  The spaetzle was firm and tasty.  Cheri thought it was too salty but I don’t agree.  I don’t eat chicken skin very often, but I ate every bite of this.  It was really, really good.

Halibut with Spring Vegetables and Yuzu – this was a small fillet of halibut with some green vegetables, with peas being the most prominent.  The fish was well cooked and flavorful.   The peas were crisp and fresh and worked well with the dish.  That said, if I had ordered this I would have left the restaurant hungry.  It was a really small entree.

Scup with Asparagus and Fingerling Potatoes – this looked well done, and two diners ordered this choice.  They both enjoyed it.  The scup was filleted and there were no bones to contend with.

Dessert:  this was homemade chocolate and brownie ice cream, which was very tasty.  I could have used an additional small scoop or two.  French pressed coffee completed the meal.

Wine: this was good, as would be expected since  we all brought something to the evening.  A bottle of 2011

2011 Lioco Pinot Noir

2011 Lioco Pinot Noir

Lioco Pinot Noir, from the Coastal region of Sonoma was rich and fruity, with surprising body and length.  This was a seriously tasty pinot.  It’s about $40 on wine-searcher, but it is probably worth it and will stand up to just about any other Pinot Noir I’ve tried recently.  Very tasty juice.  We brought a 2012 Casey Flat CFR Sauvignon Blanc and a 2010 CFR Estate Red.  A bottle of Grace dessert wine from Westport Rivers Winery finished off the evening.  That wine is made from distilled Chardonnay grapes and is very delicious, unctuous and long.  Good company and good wine makes for good times.  Everyone brought something excellent.

All in all this left us with mixed feelings.  The food quality was very good, but the ambiance and general aspects of the restaurant did not impress us.  I don’t think Cheri and I will be going back for a romantic dinner for two.  Maybe in November, when I can park in the same time zone, but probably not at all.

Thames Street Kitchen – good food, loud, parking issues and lack of location.  You’ll need to form your own opinion probably.

Here the particulars:  Thames Street Kitchen, 677 Thames St, Newport, RI 02840

A votre sante!
Thames Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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