• Newport Food Scene: 22 reasons to be thankful for Newport County's food scene

    Newport Food Scene: 22 reasons to be thankful for Newport County's food scene
    Dan Lederer

    In the spirit of giving thanks, here are 22 things of the Food Scene that I am grateful for in 2022.

    1. I am grateful for all the incredible options we have on our Island. You can get it all here. From full New England Lobster dinners in fine restaurants overlooking the harbor to fresh-made Malasadas served up warm at local gas stations on Sundays, we’ve got it all and we sure are lucky.

    2. I am grateful to all the people who work so hard to keep our restaurants, bars, coffee shops and eateries up and running. These are the folks that make a difference and keep our hospitality community going. Thank you for all you do.

    3. I am grateful for people who leave good tips without agenda. Your gratuity is always welcomed and appreciated. Boasting about it is not.

    4. I am thankful for the back-of-house teams. At every restaurant, there’s a whole kitchen full of cooks and chefs working in a chaotic symphony to make sure your food looks great and tastes even better. They deserve the credit and don’t always get the thanks. They deserve (and have earned) our gratitude.

    5. I am grateful for Frosty Freez. There’s no better place to celebrate the lazy days of summer. Ice Cream brings people together. I’m already looking forward to opening day 2023.

    6. I am grateful for oysters (and oyster shuckers). Fresh oysters are one of the true delights of eating locally in Rhode Island. Every slurp is a happy moment. Grab the mignonette sauce and leave at it!

    7. I am grateful for the creative chefs we have in town. They work hard to develop menu items that we didn’t know we were craving and now can’t stop thinking about. They are skilled artists and we are lucky to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables, and apps, and entrees, and desserts) of their labors.

    8. I am grateful for the creative bartenders too. They are wizards who make magical potions out of the strangest of ingredients and make us say “Ahh!” after we take a sip. Plus they find great names for their creations like Swizzle Me Timbers and Mermaid Water. Cheers!

    9. I’m grateful for noodles. Give us more restaurants like Yagi Noodles and Boru Noodle Bar. Give us more Thai restaurants like Siam Square and NaPha Thai Kitchen. Give us more Lo Mein from Ching Tao, Sunrise Vietnamese and Mindy’s. So many noodles, so little time.

    10. I’m grateful to the restaurants that closed this year like Carmella’s, Meg’s Aussie Milk Bar, Salvation Cafe, Bishops 4th Street Diner and Nomi Park to name a few. I’m not glad they closed, but I am appreciative of all the hard work that the owners and employees put into each of these eateries. They will forever be remembered in the lore of Aquidneck Island and we thank them for all the great food, drinks and smiles they served to us over the years. We miss you.

    11. I’m grateful for good restaurant music execution. I’m not talking about live music or bands (which are great too), but good background music at the right level. Music that’s festive and fun can set the tone for the whole meal, and I’m always appreciative of those places that hit the mark.

    12. I’m grateful for the Jane Pickens Theater. We didn’t need a reason to go out to eat in Newport, but give us a good show or movie and suddenly we’ve got ourselves a date night in town. Their programming has been fire lately too, from “The Wizard of Oz” this weekend to Suzanne Vega this April. Thanks for keeping the entertainment coming, JPT!

    13. I’m grateful for the bars in town that welcome restaurant employees after their shifts. It’s hard to go right home after you work a fast-paced shift. Thanks for staying open so the crew can raise a glass together and unwind.

    14. I’m grateful for Buns Bakery. We’ve watched them grow over the last few years and we are excited to see them succeed. They’ve kept us happily supplied with the most delicious babkas, rugelach and soft pretzels and we get excited when we see their Buns boxes at the Grower’s Market, Foodlove Market and Clement’s Marketplace. L’chaim!

    15. I’m grateful for organizations like Discover Newport, the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce and the Preservation Society of Newport County. Each helps bring more visitors to our area which means more people will be enjoying our eateries. If you keep bringing them in, we’ll feed them. That’s a community partnership that works.

    16. I’m grateful for Weird Al Yankovic. Need some laughs this weekend? Order some take-out and watch his biopic on the Roku Channel. It will make you want some more chicken and have some more pie (it doesn't matter if it's broiled or fried).

    17. I’m grateful for coffee. We don’t say thank you enough to the people who sell us our morning cup (probably because we need the coffee before we can communicate). But we are grateful for the joy they bring. Whether you grab yours at Empire Tea & Coffee, Custom House Coffee or Simple Merchant Coffee, we are all grateful for the liquid joy our baristas bring into our lives and for the baristas too.

    18. I’m grateful for food delivery drivers. They work hard so we can enjoy whatever we want in the comforts of our own home. They drive in bad weather and in tough traffic. They deal with long waits at restaurants when orders aren’t ready. And they deal with demanding, hangry customers. We appreciate all you do.

    19. I’m grateful for rolled silverware sets.

    20. I’m grateful for people who deliver true hospitality. With the labor shortage, we have all noticed those moments when people are being worked too hard to be at the top of their game. But when you see genuine hospitality - someone taking the time to help and guide you in a kind and welcoming way - you appreciate it. Keep it up! You are setting the example for the rest to follow.

    21. I’m grateful for the joy of dining out. The great food. The inspired drinks. The shared laughs. Never take for granted the privilege of dining out. It’s not an option for everyone, so savor the moments you get of someone serving you something tasty.

    22. Last, I’m grateful to all the readers. I appreciate your support. I hope your Thanksgivings are filled with heaps of gratitude too. Keep supporting your local restaurants!

    Dan Lederer is a Middletown resident with 30 years experience in the food service industry throughout New England. He continues to work locally behind the scenes within the industry and remains a devoted fan of all things restaurant and hospitality related. His column appears on newportri.com and Thursdays in The Daily News. Cheers!

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