Dear What’sUpNewp is where we’ll regularly feature an audience question and have all or some of our editorial team members provide their answer. Want to submit a question? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan recently got the question while at an event – “What’s your favorite restaurant or bar that opened in 2017?”
It’s a great question – and believe it or not, with Surf Club, Stoneacre Brassiere, Wholesome Fresh, Scarpetta and Harry’s Bar & Burger among those new restaurants opening in 2017, there’s plenty of great options to choose from. But, there has to be a favorite, right?
Okay, here are answers from some of What’sUpNewp’s editorial team.
My favorite new bar/restaurant is definitely Surf Club. It feels like Midtown underground, and it manages to feel cozy and spacious at the same time. As an NY/NJ transplant, I am pretty judgmental about pizza and Surf Club has some of the best pizza in town.
The bar has a casual upscale feel, and the big booths make it a great spot for groups. A random, unexpected detail to appreciate about it is the women’s bathroom. The banana leaf wallpaper and decor are beautiful. It’s probably the nicest, cleanest bar bathroom in Newport.
The Newport restaurant scene has had it’s fair share of change over the last few years and 2017 was no exception. Highlighted by the highly anticipated opening of the long-time Stoneacre Brasserie project in Washington Square and complimented by the much-needed second floor expansion of Diego’s and the addition of Surf Club to the downtown dining scene, to say we’ve been spoiled is an understatement.
In all fairness, I think it’s important to note that the progression of change and fast-moving cycle that has developed in the city’s restaurant scene will show no signs of slowing down in coming years. Restaurants historically have a small window and as an industry, their shelf-life as a business model is amongst the least sustainable. The hospitality industry is constantly evolving and it’s difficult to keep up. Although the new additions will be warmly welcomed into the community, we should nod our hats to those local staples that have withstood the test of time and continue to thrive year after year.
For the sake of this response, I’ll keep the past where it belongs and focus on the present.
Stoneacre Brasserie was by far the most anticipated opening of the year and clearly my favorite. With delayed construction and an air of mystery about the concept, diners who were fond of their much smaller Stoneacre Pantry concept on lower Thames were ecstatic when they finally opened their doors in early September. The talented team at 2Hands Studio created a restaurant that embodied the metropolitan ambiance that Newport was missing. With high ceilings, an open floor concept, clean and crisp decor and a slightly modern yet rustic approach to the aesthetics, Stoneacre Brasserie is one of the most visually appealing restaurants in the city. It reminds me of a venue you’d find in Boston or New York City, serving as a full-service cafe and restaurant all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a place where you can grab a coffee in the morning, hold a business meeting for lunch and then come back to enjoy a post-work cocktail at the bar.
The versatility of Stoneacre is only one of it’s selling points. Their menu is constantly rotating based on seasonal ingredients and they do their best to source locally whenever possible to ensure quality and support local farms and fisherman. Their wine list is eclectic, cocktails are inventive and they take pride in staff training to ensure they are knowledgeable on what they’re selling. They listen to what they want during service, dress in semi-casual attire and maintain a level of professionalism and personality that makes you feel that they truly take pride in their work.
An outpouring of mixed reviews about the new location is inevitable for any new establishment but keep in mind that every restaurant has hiccups while they are figuring out the logistics of their operation. Staffing and service have been the biggest qualms that I’ve heard but something that I have yet to experience myself. It’s a more team-style approach to service and I think a lot of people who aren’t familiar with this type of dining have a tough time adjusting to this change. Each visit has been enjoyable from start to finish and I leave wanting to come back for more. No detail is overlooked, from their creative take on a classic Dark N’ Stormy, to the historic photographs of bridge workers hanging on the wall, to the quaint postcards they use as check presenters; Stoneacre is fresh and they walk to a beat of their own drum.
The other day while I was enjoying brunch with my family, I watched a bartender zest fresh citrus for their house-made bloody mary mix (which is aces by the way) while Wu-Tang Clan was playing over the speakers. Name another venue in town where that would happen… It’s a rarity that a place can cater to a variety of guests, ranging from local hospitality professionals to business owners to Newport’s aristocracy and not have to change their values, identity or integrity while doing so. It’s a breath of fresh air knowing that this hot spot is here to stay and I wish the team at Stoneacre continued success in 2018.
The restaurant and food scene is growing, expanding and honestly (and in my opinion) getting better every year in Newport. With the addition and expansion of a few more restaurants in 2018, things are heading the right way. Make no mistake about it either, heavy competition is great for everyone – it ensures ultimate customer service, cleanliness and delicious experiences.
When it comes to 2017 and deciding what was my favorite – it’s tough not to give the new second floor at Diego’s a mention. Scott, Adrienne and their team down there did just an amazing job decorating, designing and delivering with that new addition to Bowen’s Wharf. But for a new standalone restaurant – I like Stoneacre Brassier a lot, I haven’t been to Scarpetta yet (but I hear great and delicious things), Harry’s is fun and Wholesome Fresh is delicious – but, I too also have to go with Surf Club.
The Surf Club continues to draw me back into Perry Mill with it’s consistent and delicious food/ drinks and consistently great service. Ownership of the restaurant took a basement bar and turned it into a beautiful piece of work, where you don’t feel like you’re in the basement. Finally, there may be no better place for people watching or day drinking then their Surf Club Shack outside.
With all that said, I hope you’ll enjoy all that’s new in Newport since the last time you visited or went out, all of these new businesses deserve a visit!