Newport’s Food Rocks, Restaurant Week Rolls

We know Newport pretty well, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but it did. We walked into Midtown Oyster Bar on a fairly quiet Sunday afternoon and smack into the 12th annual Newport Restaurant Week.

We’d just hiked a few miles through the stunning landscape of Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown and were looking for a little something to eat this late Sunday afternoon. We found it at Midtown, where our waitstaffer told us it was restaurant week, which we didn’t realize.

What was not a surprise was how good Midtown’s food was. It never fails. And neither, we assume, would any of the other 50 or so restaurants taking part in the event, which ends Nov. 12.

The prix fixe three-course dinner is worth $35 each (restaurant week three-course lunches are $16 each). We started out with a pair of scrumptious appetizers: The smoked bluefish dip, a creamy, smoky dish of goodness, and the salmon poke, the Hawaiian version of ceviche, generous chunks of raw, marinated salmon with red onion, scallion, avocado, seaweed salad, furikake, wasabi tobiko and soy lime sesame dressing. For an app, it was more like a mini-entrée.

Our second course was massive: We went with a beautifully cooked breast of duckling with gnocchi, Brussels sprouts, beets, roasted squash, thick chunks of bacon and greens, along with the seafood pan roast, a giant dish of shrimp, clams, calamari, mussels, fin fish saffron-tomato rice with peas and bouilli broth. We topped it all off with the third course, a flourless chocolate truffle torte, decadently rich and smooth, and a fresh and light key lime pie.

So much for that little something to eat we went in for. We came out of Midtown Oyster Bar stuffed, and happy we’d stumbled into Newport Restaurant Week.