WEEKENDER…Block Island, Where to Stay…Where to Eat
BLOCK ISLAND, Rhode Island
by: Jessica Dineen
Block Island is an anachronism. As you bike or walk its narrow roads, past lemonade stands and beach roses, you feel jarred by the occasional passing of a car. The birds you see---northern harriers, Savannah sparrows, barn owls---have all but disappeared from the Rhode Island mainland, just 12 miles away. There are more than 300 seemingly untouched ponds, and vast, hilly grasslands sectioned off by stone fences built by settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since the 1960’s, much of the land has been sold to conservation groups for a small fraction of its worth by islanders who would rather savor the shadbush than make millions on development. This no-nonsense attitude is typical here. The 850 year-round residents give Block Island---along with its well-cared-for inns and restaurants and shops---the kind of down-home air that its stylish neighbors to the east, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, devote themselves to “re-creating”. The difference is that Block Island is not exclusive; there’s something here for everyone. And, there’s nothing “of the moment” -unless the moment you’re referring to is sometime in the 1600’s.
Atlantic Inn; The lobby, bar, and dining rooms here make you feel as if you could step out the front door and call for your horse and carriage. The 21 pleasant guest rooms are decorated with an eclectic range of antiques, and the restaurant is fabulous. From the veranda, you get an unbeatable view of the six-acre grounds (with tennis courts and a croquet lawn) and the ocean.
The dishes, such as roasted tilapia with quinoa and an orange vanilla reduction are rich and interesting yet usually subtly flavored.
Dinner for two is $85. The restaurant at this venerable inn ties with Eli’s for best on the island. Atlantic’s dining room is the kind of elegant space that makes everyone in it feel serene.