Note: the top part of these Dining Out in Rhode Island blog posts concern themselves with the restaurant / eatery. The bottom parts are my travelogue, and are only there for side interest…
Matunuck Oyster Bar: 629 Succotash Road, South Kingstown, RI 02879
They open at 11:30 a.m., and by noon, in season at least, the place is doing a great number at filling up. By one, the parking is mayhem – for this reason, apparently, the restaurant is valet parking only.
Outdoor seating is available, and desirable in good weather, which we certainly were having — temps in the mid-70’s! You can sit in the sun, or under cover of a canopy (I chose the latter). Service is quick, efficient and friendly. The meals are not inexpensive, but hey, it’s a vacation, right?
It’s a farm to table operation, and is proud of this. Three local varieties of oyster were available this date, and so I ordered two of each. You can also get cooked oysters in several (I think five) ways – the one I saw was a batter-fried oyster appetizer with each oyster nestled on a slice of cucumber. I thought it looked over-breaded, but that’s me, not wanting to hide or dilute my oysters! Anyhow, the raw oysters came with cocktail sauce, mignonette, and lemon wedge, for mix-and-match dipping. Turns out of the three I liked the lemon the best this time. (Cocktail sauce hides the delicacy of raw oyster, frankly.)
I also selected a cup of Rhode Island (clear) clam chowder. This was good, but nowhere near the gustatory levels of that wondrous clam chowder I’d eaten on Block Island a few years ago – at Dead Eye Dick’s. Still, the clams were prolific in the cup – it was just that the chowder’s broth had something a little funky in its seasonings.
I stayed with appetizers (other than the soup) – my next selection was the three tuna mini corn tacos – very fresh yellowfin tuna atop guacamole, in a platter with a jicama, pepper and onion slaw. Excellent, but I was still hungry. What I’d eaten so far had been geared for appetizers.
So, I ordered the 1.5 pound steamer appetizer platter with drawn butter and clam broth. I’d reserved the rest of my lemon wedge, but unfortunately when stepping out to the loo, the lemon wedge vanished. (I’m sure I could have asked for another…)
The clams were excellent, however, and their broth just perfect – not too salty, no grit, and just that right level of clamminess to go down smooth. I do wish that New England would season up drawn butter for its shellfish like I (following on my father’s footsteps) always do – I add lemon, or garlic powder, and sometimes a minor kick of Tabasco. But no, it’s not traditional, so I can’t fault a restaurant.
The restaurant is located in a beautiful setting, and since the weather saw fit to break from prior high humidity and heat, it was absolutely delightful, hardly a cloud in the sky.
For those who wish to use the facilities, the ladies is ergonomic, clean, and tastefully tiled (I am noticing tiling a lot these days, as the house I am building is now in the tiling phase…)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5. Worth a visit.
The road trip to Rhode Island was an easy and doable ride. I left home late enough to miss commuter traffic — and to miss morning sun directly in my eyes. The journey was relaxing! I arrived at the oyster bar at a good time for an early lunch, and was indeed surprised to see how many people were pulling in for good eats — it was a Tuesday, after all, and even though still in season, I was mildly surprised.
Afterwards, I snapped a few shots of the cove – driving down the point as far as possible, and then I drove off to find the John H. Chafee Wildlife Refuge.
I don’t know if this one exists anywhere but on maps. I ended up at a campground which did look like it was surrounded by what might have been a wildlife refuge, but I couldn’t find any of the presumptively-cleverly hidden trails.
The campground was well-established – lots of trailers, most of which looked like they’d been there all season. I mean, around many of them were gardening plants, often IN the ground, not just in decorative tubs or planters. I could drive down to a little cove with some docks, which I did enjoy. There wasn’t a soul in sight — good setting for a quirky but freaky horror movie — where’d everyone go? And would the intrepid visitor (me?) be next? I rather liked the setting of the boat trailers. No photos of the house trailers — worried about any residuals ghouls being upset!
Since it was still a beautiful day, I wasn’t yet ready to check into my motel. Hey, it wasn’t even yet check in time! (More in the next Dining Out blog post!)