Clarke Cooke House

The Candy Store at Clarke Cooke on Bannister Wharf has always been a favorite for cocktails. It’s bright and airy with great drinks and bartenders and when the weather is nice and the back windows are open to the water, it just doesn’t get any better. Still the best Dirty Martini in town.

For some unknown reason, I had never eaten in the restaurant and a recent visit made me realize what I was missing. This delightful spot has it all; atmosphere, food, service and a wonderful wine list.

When the weather is nice, the place to eat is the upstairs Porch. With its tented ceiling and comfortable banquettes strewn with pillows, it is the most elegant and stylish place to be. The harbor views, particularly at sunset are breathtaking. On this visit, on a cold November evening, the cozy Bistro with its beamed ceilings and huge wood burning fireplace was perfect to take the chill off. Linen clad tables with glistening tableware and leather chairs surround a central bar. White paneled walls are adorned with the owner’s collection of America’s Cup prints and other sailing memorabilia.

The kitchen has been run by Chef Ted Gidley for 20 years. Gidley has worked with renowned chefs like Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert. Start with something from the raw bar, perhaps the Le Petit which has 6 oysters, 6 littlenecks, 4 shrimp and a half lobster. Always get the fresh swordfish when available or try the braised lamb shank or the wood grilled filet mignon. vinaigrette….just delicious.

If you have room for dessert you won’t want to miss the decadent chocolate fudge layer cake with an espresso creme anglaise or the warm apple and walnut tart served with walnut frangiapan, pate sucree and vanilla ice cream.

The wine list is a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner and deservedly so. U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and even Rhode Island are represented. There are about 25 1/2 bottle choices which I always like. What is striking about this list is that while there is a good representation of the big guns; the Latours, Lafites, Haut Brions, Silver Oaks and Heitzs, there are lots of really great values like a $65 Amarone, a $50 Barolo and much more. Bravo for such an approachable list.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Wherever you eat, it is conducive to intimate conversation.

“One of the top ten outdoor dining spots…”
“Probably the best and most consistent restaurant in town…”
“Of all the restaurants in Newport, Clarke Cooke is by far the most enchanting…”
“The Essence of Newport…”
“By far the most sophisticated restaurant in Newport…”