Places to Visit »Lodging and Dining on Block Island

ballards beach block islandIf you take the ferry from Port Judith, you will arrive on the quaint vacation Block Island in Old Harbor, the island's town center where most dining and lodging can be found. We stayed at the Inn at Block Island, a nice Victorian style bed and breakfast, that while completely pleasant was pretty hands off as far as services and breakfast (we had to help an arriving lady in with her luggage and opted to eat out after eating in once.) Still, it was in a nice location and priced fine and?we don't really need a lot of frills, so we were content.

As for eating, there's a lot to choose from in Old Harbor but I'll try to walk you through the highs and lows as I saw them.

On the better side of things you'll find The National Hotel, a classic family ridden hotel bar and restaurant that surprised us with their excellent garlicky clams and tasty pesto salmon sandwich. Clams were also the name of the game at Finn's, a seafood joint close to the dock with unusual weekday hours and a boisterous wood paneled atmosphere. I tried whole fried clams, a rich and decadent dish, there for the first time. For a fancier meal in a doily tea room ambiance, I was impressed with our meal at the Hotel Manisses. Managing to even make lobster bisque?(an often too thick concotion) light and delicious, the focus is on vegetables and herbs from their own garden. Our final A plus meal was the outdoor Old Harbor View Takeout, one of the first places you'll see on embarking. As a major vacation style indulgence, I had a big frozen lemonade and a foot long grilled hot dog for breakfast.

In the middle of the scale sits Ballard's Inn, a very popular seafood spot that offers great seating pretty much right on the beach (pictured). This was an ideal setting to enjoy the few moments of sun we had our first day, along with the Del's vodka drink I mentioned last week. Their oysters were pretty good, lobster roll was average, but the price, like many places on the island was higher than expected or deserved. Three Sisters, only open a few hours a day, was a tiny spot with decent meatloaf sandwiches and cookies that are a nice break from overpriced sit down meals.

Now for the bad… The biggest disappointment was Eli's, a restaurant I had read rave reviews of. While parts of the meal were great: the huge dirty martini and the hard to eat tuna carpaccio nachos, my main dish consisted of undercooked rice, undercooked and nearly cold grilled shrimp and canned black olives. Jim faired only slightly better with a mellow but bland fish of the day. We also had the worst coffee I've ever tasted in my life from Juice N Java. We had to throw our lattes out after only a few sips. A day later, with no other options open to us, we gave them another chance with Chai but had to toss those even earlier. You've been warned.

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Posted on July 6, 2009

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