Safari Room a Scenic Take on Newport Restaurant Week

The Safari Room, a restaurant at OceanCliff Resort in Newport, has some of the most spectacular waterfront views in the city, set on a hill overlooking Narragansett Bay. It also has some of the best food you’ll find anywhere in the area. And now through Nov. 13 is a pretty good time to check it out, as Safari Room is one of dozens of eateries taking part in Newport Restaurant Week.

We took it in one night when there was an extraordinary sunset, best taken in from either the dining area or the sprawling outside deck. No matter where you sit – and that includes in a covered area outside in warmer weather – the food is as spectacular as the views.

Restaurant week menus have prix fixe menus of $16 for lunch, $35 for dinner; visit any participating restaurant and you don’t have to order from that menu, but it’s a relatively inexpensive way to get a taste of what they have to offer. At the Safari Room, we started off with seared scallops served with split peas, smoked pancetta bits and mint oil, and smoked maple duck with huckleberry jam, toasted pecans and baby frisse. And these were not insubstantial dishes, each nearly a meal in itself.

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For entrees, we went with a marinated flat-iron steak, a whopping hunk of perfectly cooked meat, with butternut-Swiss chard gratin, cave-aged cheddar and crunchy onion, and a fork-tender braised pork shank, with a potato-celery root soubise, collard greens and charred tomato-bourbon gravy.

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All of that left little room for dessert, but since it’s included we did our best to make it through a slice of pumpkin-maple cheesecake, with spiced chestnuts and sage Chantilly cream, and a pecan praline tart, with walnut brittle and elderberry coulis. It was very much worth the effort.

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OceanCliff, set on 10 acres of rolling lawns, with 24 guestrooms in the building that also houses the Safari Room, is a gorgeous structure, site of the former Bronson Villa, originally built in 1864 by the Boston architectural firm of Peabody & Stearns, which designed Doris Duke’s Rough Point and the original Breakers on Bellevue Avenue.

OceanCliff was used as a summer getaway for the Bronson clan, and later sold to Guan M. Hutton, who built the Trans-Siberian railroad for Czar Nicholas. Hutton razed the original wooden structure and put up new estate in 1892. The resort is also now a popular spot for weddings and other functions.

And not a bad place to check out Newport Restaurant Week. For information and menus of the more than 50 participating places, visit www.discovernewport.org/newport-restaurant-week

(Background photo from Safari Room site; food photos by Paul E. Kandarian)

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