A Squared: Wining & Dining in Southern New England

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wining & Dining in Southern New England

As you saw in yesterday's post, I recently returned from a trip back to New England. I was there first for a work conference in Quincy, MA and then finished out the trip with an extended weekend in Rhode Island with my family. We did a lot more cooking and eating at home during this trip than we normally do, but that's also part of the fun of hanging out with mom too.

I did want to share a few dining out details from this trip though... and some fun info for wine lovers too!

First, let's talk about conference food. If you're a relatively frequent conference/banquet/wedding attendee (as I am), you know that the food served at these events can leave a lot to be desired. I am happy to report that I had some very good banquet food at the Boston Marriott Quincy. Where else, but at a conference in the heart of New England can you get a piece of fresh pan-seared scrod in a New England clam chowder pan sauce topped with watercress? Fancy, right?

Also, a big shout out to the staff here, who was amazing-- especially Tony. He also works at one of my all time favorite Boston restaurants Giacomo's. If you're ever looking for great Italian food in the North or South End, stop in. It's fabulous!

After our meeting ended, I headed back down to Rhode Island and met my parents at one of their favorite restaurants Iron Works Tavern. It's a contemporary American restaurant and bar and the menu here is creative, high quality, and delicious. It was easy to see why this place has become a favorite of mom and dad's!

We shared a few great appetizers to start things off: mom's favorite truffle fries, the shrimp cocktail, and these really delicious bacon-wrapped scallops. Can you tell how much I missed eating fresh seafood?

I also have a special appreciation for any restaurant that offers a seasonal menu. Iron Works had a great selection of fall-themed dishes when we stopped in for dinner. I had a difficult time deciding what to order until I spotted the special pumpkin risotto and knew exactly what I would be ordering. The risotto was creamy and had just enough pumpkin flavor. They served it with pepitas, dried cranberries, and asparagus and it was a really satisfying meatless entree.

And don't forget dessert-- the cinnamon bread pudding was really really good!

If you're looking for a place to eat near T.F. Green Airport or the Warwick MBTA train stop (it's right across the street) among a sea of so-so chain restaurants, this is a fabulous option. Aside from my old favorite Legal Seafood, Iron Works Tavern is by far your best bet around here!
Iron Works Tavern on Urbanspoon

Lastly, let's talk about a favorite topic of mine: wine.

On Saturday my mom decided it would be fun to do a little local wine tasting. After doing some research, she discovered that Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth (north of Newport, for you non-locals) offers wine tasting and jazz music on Saturday afternoons in the warm months. Fun, right?

So we packed a picnic lunch (including those delicious sandwiches I featured yesterday) and headed to Portsmouth for a really lovely afternoon. The vineyard itself is picturesque-- an older barn-like structure housed the jazz band and the wine tasting stations were set up around the covered porch outside. The entire structure was surrounded by grapevines, farmland (with a few longhorns grazing nearby), and the bay a little further in the distance.

We had a great time chatting with our guide for the afternoon-- she had lots of interesting facts about the stories and processes behind each of Greenvale's wines. And after befriending her, my dad quickly made friends with one of the many vineyard dogs, Maggie. Also, his pocketful of Milk Bones helped win her over.

And let's not forget the wine-- it was very good! We even got my strictly beer-drinking Dad to join us in the tasting. They have a smaller selection of wines at Greenvale, but we got to try all of them and I can honestly say that I liked them all. Even the Chardonnay,which is not usually my first choice, was really crisp and delicious. I especially liked their Vidal Blanc (a medium dry white wine) and the Elms Meritage (a Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec blend).

Having had so much fun at our first winery, we decided to make an afternoon of it and stopped at nearby Newport Vineyards on our way back. Who knew wineries were such a big thing in the littlest state?

I have visited Newport Vineyards with friends before, but it was years ago-- and before I became such a big wine fan. I'm pretty sure back then I was tasting any wine that tasted as close to Arbor Mist as possible... how embarrassing! Needless to say, it was really fun to go back this time around with my parents and try it all over again.

Now, the atmosphere at Greenvale totally wins. It's peaceful and quaint and exactly what you'd imagine a little New England vineyard on the ocean would look like. As for selection, Newport Vineyards takes it. They had dozens of wines available for tasting and I was totally overwhelmed trying to narrow it down to just 5 to sample.

Their staff was friendly and super helpful in making suggestions and I ended up really enjoying the wines I tried here. So much so, in fact, that I brought several bottles home with me-- along with a few from Greenvale! My favorites here were the Sauvignon Blanc, the Landot Noir, and the Rose of Cabernet. Also, they have a hard apple cider here called Rhody Coyote that all three of us loved-- it's light, sweet, and bubbly and the sommelier likened it to an apple champagne. It reminded me of my favorite Crispin Cider, which is tougher to find on the east coast.

Wine, seafood, family time, and autumn in New England... I was a happy girl this weekend!


  1. Looks like a great trip with some fabulous food....bacon wrapped scallops. Yes, please!

    1. It was great, Danelle! And bacon makes everything better... especially scallops!


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