Block Island Eats Target Nostalgia

9 Jul

Every summer it is my family’s wont to make a pilgrimage to Block Island as soon as school lets out.  My grandma, one of the few hard-core year-round islanders, welcomes us into her charming home for our annual vacation every summer.  The outside of her house is kissed by the briny winds that come off the ocean, evidencing the years that it has proudly and strongly withstood Block Island’s fiesty weather.  Inside her house it is cozy, and although it is not worn by the weather, it too alludes to years past.  One closet guards games that my siblings and I have played there every summer; the hutch in the kitchen is the storage place for our annual candy-store purchases; and the ‘parlor’ is where we all congregate for late-night random TV shows.  This is the way it has been since I can remember.

My grandma’s house is replete with memories from my childhood, and it seems that Block Island as a whole harbors nostalgia–especially in its eating establishments.  No matter how long or short our island stay is year to year, we always make sure to hit as many of our favorite BI eateries as we can.  The food is not always gourmet, although there are some higher-end restaurants around, but it is always fun.  Among our most highly-regarded food destinations are Bethany’s Airport Diner, The Mohegan Café, Finn’s, The Blocks of Fudge Candy Store, Payne’s Dock, The Beachhead, The Bagel Shop, The Oar, and The Yellow Kittens.  On this particular trip, we didn’t make it to Finn’s or The Yellow Kittens.  However, we enjoyed the others.

Bethany’s Airport Diner is not just a diner–it’s an institution.  Ever depended-upon by the island’s airport “geezers,” Bethany’s has been feuling the pilots for years.  Whether you’re in the mood for a stuffed omelet or pancakes as large as the plate, you cannot be let down.   Bethany’s has charm to boot, as it serves coffee in cute old mugs and is decorated in airport kitch.  Too, it has packets of jam that my sister and I traditionally eat while we wait for our food:

my coffee mug100_4899Every year I have ordered the chocolate chip pancakes, because they are probably the best chocolate chip pancakes I have ever had.  However, the rich chocolate always makes me feel ill and as though I must prepare for cardiac arrest for the rest of the day.  This time, when I saw that the menu had added sausage pancakes, I was intrigued.  Even if they were equally cloying as the chocolate chip pancakes, I ordered them.  Drenched in maple syrup and slathered in butter, these were a thing of beauty.  For some reason, they were not as ruinous to my stomach as the chocolate, so that was an added bonus. 
breakfast sausage pancake!
breakfast sausage pancake!
my sister's omelet and hash
my sister’s omelet and hash

Another breakfast beauty on the island is the Payne’s Dock Killer Donut.  I don’t care about Dunkin’ Donuts when I eat these.  I don’t care about the gourmet donuts people yammer away about on Food Network and the Travel Channel.  If these were the only donuts on the face of the earth it would not be a bad thing.  One donut will send you over the edge.  But they’re too damn addicting to stop.  Plain, sugar, or cinnamon sugar? Well, the obvious answer is one of each, but if one donut and I were the only ones left on the earth after the apocalypse, I would choose cinnamon sugar. 



As for the other restaurants we hit, The Mohegan makes pretty satisfying everything; the Beachhead is best for burgers; The Oar has the best fries and good seafood (the fried fish was good); and the Bagel shop has amazing sandwiches.  I had a great “veggie mama” wrap with hummus, lettuce, tomato, onion, tabouli, black beans, cucumber, and chicken.  Yum! 

Over the years our traditions have changed: we don’t build sand castles anymore; our extended family doesn’t always go to BI during the same time that we do; we are too old to have lemonade stands.  Still, no matter what, the food remains the same, and it’s always something to which I look forward.

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