Niantic-Eclectic-Bisque

As we came over the bridge into the town of Niantic, I could see the bed & breakfast from the marina.  As the cab driver pulled in the driveway, an explosion of flowers in various hues greeted me.  Oh, I came to the right place.  The porch entrance had two rockers begging me to sit a spell.  I arrived at 11am as other guests were checking out and four hours before check in.  Dave greeted me at the door. I told him I was early.  It turned out another family rented the adjacent Captain Clark House.  There was going to be a wedding tonight at the gazebo.  Dave took my bags and the rest of the inn staff gave me lunch recommendations until my room was ready.  

The Inn at Harbor Hill Marina is my new secret getaway. http://www.innharborhill.com/index.html There is the main house.  Then, there is Captain Clark’s House.  Additionally, the Inn is adjacent to Port Niantic Marina Office.  Therefore, if you own a boat and travel up and down the eastern seaboard, call them if you need a boat slip to come in harbor for a few days.  At the  Inn, you experience the best of a bed & breakfast and you’re introduced to boat culture.  The main house is everything you’d want in a b&b – comfy cozy chairs and sofa and a writing desk.  I sat at the desk to mail my post cards.  The rooms in the main house have marina views and the bathrooms are spacious.  Captain Clark’s House is newly built.  It is more modern and the rooms are huge.  For those who want granite, marble, and soaking tubs – Captain Clark’s House is meant for you.  It reminded me of a city dweller’s summer home, with all the conveniences you’d find in a suburban home.  However, it lacks the quaint, cozy feel.  For city dwellers who still want city amenities, stay at Captain Clark’s.  The outside is just as charming as the main house, but the inside is more modern luxury.

I checked the internet before coming.  My favorite foods are shrimp, crab, and lobster.  I came with a mission of eating those three items every day.  I went into downtown Niantic, past Skipper’s (good hot lobster roll). I walked past Smarty’s (where the locals hang out) and spent a good hour in the Book Barn. Most books are just a $1 so I stocked up in case I ran out of reading material.  A short stroll from the Book Barn and I was there – Eclectic Chef.  This placed received rave reviews for the lobster & crab bisque and its lobster and crab salad roll.  Don’t order a deli sandwich.  Stick with what they are good at. I ordered a small lobster/crab bisque and the lobster and crab salad roll.  The bisque came first.  Oh my!  Lobster and crab in every bite, creamy delicious and I think I taste sweet blue crab.  I am in seafood heaven.  The lobster and crab salad roll came on a Kaiser roll.  Now, this is not your traditional lobster roll on a New England butter hot dog bun.  This is better.  Tons of lobster and crab in a mayo type cream with bits of celery and topped with farm fresh tomatoes.  I removed the tomatoes (don’t eat them).  I have a problem.  I am full from the bisque, but I am no slacker.  I did not come all this way to not have my lobster roll.  I took a bite of the sandwich.  It was like the bisque stuffed between a soft Kaiser roll.  This is happy.  Just show me the rocker and I am good.  I wrap my lobster and crab salad roll to go. 



I happily stroll down Main Street.  I see a cute store – 3 Blind Mice.  I meander over on in.  The owner is friendly and she asks where I am from and how I’m enjoying the town.  I told her I just had the best lobster bisque.  She looked at me and said “Eclectic Chef.”  I said yes.  She said, “I love Eclectic Chef and it is good, but there is a place that even beats them.”  I gaze at her in disbelief.  She said, “Go by the DQ and next door is La Belle Aurora.  It looks like a hole in the wall, but it has the best lobster bisque.  The owner cooks from the farm to the table.  Her crab cakes are all crab meat no bread.”  Shut up – I said it to her.  She told me that some customers actually have the gall to request that the owner desecrate the crab cakes by adding bread crumbs.  I told her I was going to the La Belle for dinner. Crab cakes with no breading, it’s on!

I finally head back to the Inn at Harbor Hill. Sue warmly greets me and asks  me how was lunch.  I mentioned this lovely lobster bisque.  She says, “Eclectic Chef?”  I look and smile.  Would I like a refreshment – coffee, tea, soda, wine, water, beer?  All complimentary for inn guests.  Biscotti was in the cookie jar and the coffee table had a glass ship filled for pretzels if a snack attack came on. Fresh baked cookies are set out each night before bed.  It’s like being at grandma’s house.  I am taken to my room.  I have a marina view and my bed is oh so inviting.  I see shells on the roof outside my window.  Dawn said that the seagulls drop the clams/oyster on the roof to break the shell for easy eating. She said it was the annual wooden boat parade at Mystic Seaport tomorrow.  I told her I didn’t have a car.  She graciously offered to drop me in Mystic tomorrow morning if I wanted to see the boat parade.  I could get used to this!

No time to stay in the room.  I grab my book and head straight for the porch to break in a rocking chair.  It’s nice but not quite right.  I move on the lawn to the Adirondack chairs.  I sink in and kick off my shoes and put my water on the side table.  I put my feet in the grass!  I am not a barefoot person and never walk bare on grass.  This grass feels fake – been in the city too long.  I let my feet play in the grass for a minute.  Then I swing my legs over the chair arm and get lost in my book.  I was so engrossed that I didn’t hear Dave the first time when he jokingly yelled, “I wish you would try to relax over there.”  The guests on the second floor veranda yelled out, “Yeah she just doesn’t look comfortable enough.” I didn’t realize just how at home I made myself.  When I finally realized I was the topic of conversation, Dave said “you have to teach me how relax like that.”  I just spent a year in the concrete jungle and only have three days to unwind, I didn’t have a minute to waste to get relaxed.  For the next three hours, I moved from the Adirondack chairs to the porch rocker to the gazebo reading and walking bare foot in the grass – finishing my lobster roll enjoying the view. 



I decide to head to dinner early so I can watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics.  Go Team USA.  I walk to the LaBelle.  Although it looks like a hole in the wall outside, the inside is anything but.  I am still a bit full and I know I can’t eat the lobster bisque and the crab cake entrée, so I decide on the crab cakes and will return tomorrow for the lobster bisque and watermelon mint salad with feta.  I’m the only one in but apparently people order take out.  A guy came in to pick up his order and said, “If I was not a married man I would offer to sit at your table.”  Sweet.  The bread arrives.  The first is plain white bread moist and good.  The second slice I thought was whole grain, but after the first bite I tasted rosemary and thyme.  Oh that was yummy.  The crab cakes arrived and they did not disappoint.  My fingerling rainbow potatoes (red, yellow and blue) were delish.  I even finished my vegetables, grilled red bell peppers and squash.

Full, I realize I missed the gazebo wedding. I decide to check out more stores on Main Street.  There is an antique store.  It has a Radio Flyer vintage scooter for $15.  I want it, but how will I get it back to the city.  More important, where will I put it in my storage unit of an apartment?  Sports memorabilia in the back – Jordan!  I bought fourteen MJ cards and one Derek Rose at a steal.  While waiting to buy, another customer asks, “Where is Hole in the Wall Beach?”  I look like this is a joke.  The clerk says, “Take a left at Gumdrops & Lollipops Candy Store.”  I interrupt, “Are you serious?”  Clerk, “access to Hole in the Wall beach is around the corner from Gumdrops & Lollipops – good fudge and ice cream.”  That settles it I’m going to Hole in the Wall Beach as soon as I stop in Gumdrops & Lollipops.  Gumdrops & Lollipops did not disappoint.  From the outside it looks like an old fashioned candy store.  On the inside I went nostalgic after seeing the old school candy. I had to call my mom.  I walked out of Gumdrops and headed to Hole in the Wall Beach.  Don’t let the name fool you, it is clean, serene, and gorgeous.  I walk the beach, pick up some sea shells and head back.

As I walked through the front door, I smelled fresh baked cookies – oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip.  The sign next to the cookies said, “enjoy – sweet dreams.”  I don’t wanna go home! I mention Hole in the Wall to the staff.  “Did you walk the entire McCook beach park? We have beach towels and beach chairs if you need them. Don’t forget your cookie!”  I grab a cookie and a cup of chai tea and head to my room to watch the Olympics.  I shower and doze off before the US arrive in the stadium.

To be continued….. If you want to stay at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina tell them Ronda sent you and you’ll be treated like family, but better.