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The Fairmont - 101 South Shore Road, Southampton
+441 238 8000
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Blue Ribbon Dining
Stocking Pelham, United Kingdom
July 2, 2009
Best of IgoUgo
The Newport Room is widely considered to be one of Bermuda’s top restaurants. Indeed there really is only one other on the island that in my view could be considered to be of the same or similar ilk. During my two years living in Bermuda, I have ...
The Newport Room is widely considered to be one of Bermuda’s top restaurants. Indeed there really is only one other on the island that in my view could be considered to be of the same or similar ilk. During my two years living in Bermuda, I have been to the Newport Room three times, most recently to celebrate my last birthday on the island.
The restaurant is based within the Fairmount Princess Hotel in Southampton. Tables are greatly in demand from both local residents and visitors, so reservations are essential. For a Saturday night, I would definitely recommend booking a couple of weeks ahead.
A nautical theme prevails. The entrance lobby is wooden decked and looks like a captains bridge. The main restaurant contains a lot of dark wooden panelling and the predominant colours are aqua and red. The theme is not overdone though, it is very elegant and not a fake porthole in sight.
Formal dress is required, jackets for men but they don’t necessarily have to wear a tie. The jackets rule is strictly enforced, on a previous occasion my husband took his jacket off as he was hot half way through his meal and he was politely told to put it back on. Last night we saw somebody try to enter without a jacket, I thought that was rather foolish as they do make this rule very clear at booking, but they obviously keep jacket supplies somewhere and found this gentleman one so he didn’t miss out.
The rule might seem kind of stuffy in a way, but I think that getting dressed up and going somewhere where everybody else is dressed up makes an occasion and a place seem a bit more special.
Anyway back to the restaurant, well it is not often the tables for two are the best tables in a restaurant but I think they are here. Around all sides of the restaurant are horseshoe shaped booths for two. They are huge, and would probably fit six people (seating that is not eating) but as they only ever put two in the booth it is spacious and very comfortable. The table sorts of swings out each side to enable you to get in and out of your seat in a slightly more dignified fashion than shuffling around to the end on your bottom.
The tables for four or larger parties are in the middle. The tables are big and there is plenty of space between them. The chairs are oversized, well padded and look very comfortable.
Our reservation was for 7.30pm, we arrived a little bit early but were taken straight to our table. The organisation and service operates as smoothly as a well-oiled machine. Within five minutes we had been offered water, an aperitif, bread and of course had received the menus. And all by different people. Next the maitre de introduced himself to us, exchanged pleasantries and asked if we would like him to explain the menu. We did.
The first option is a six-course tasting menu. I would have liked this but my husband didn’t and of course a tasting menu works best if everyone at the table has it, although it was pointed out that this is not a requirement at the Newport Room. I cannot remember the exact details, but it starts with a salad, definitely included a lobster, then another fish course, followed by courses of meat, cheese and a dessert. The cost was a very reasonable $110 per person or $220 per person with wine pairings.
The next two pages of the menu are the a la carte options. Items are not individually priced, a three course dinner is $85 per person and a four course $95. Again though it was pointed out that we could have as many or as few course as we desired and the bill would be appropriately adjusted. Also, whilst the menu was divided into ‘first appetizer’, ‘second appetizer’ and entrees we were told we could chose whatever we liked from whatever section. We liked the menu structured as it was though and the gentle but useful suggestions of what might be a suitable ‘second appetizer’. One does not want to look greedy after all.
Finally, there was also a Vegetarian Menu. This was priced at $70 per person for three courses. There were three options for starter and main course, compared to about seven or eight options for each on the non-vegetarian menu. I think this is a reasonable balance and most vegetarians would have been pleased.
We decided we would go for four courses tonight. Before we got started we were brought a complimentary pre-appetizer, always a welcome touch and last night was a small mushroom soup with truffle chips.
For first appetizer I went for my usual foie gras, which was served with a ginger crust and on apples and brioche. It was beautiful. My husband went for braised pork belly, sounds quite revolting to me but he said it was melt in the mouth delicious.
Second appetizer for both of us was lobster bisque. The bowl is brought to the table containing a small dollop of lobster in mousse, the soup is poured over in front of you and finally a ladle of flaming armignac tops it off. The soup was served nicely warm rather than hot which helped the lobster flavours come out. We both really enjoyed the soup and the little serving ceremony that went with it.
After second appetizer we were brought a small pineapple and coconut palate cleanser before the main. I had ordered veal in parma ham and my husband duck and quail. I was worried at the pinkness of my veal when it arrived (I had ordered medium so this was hardly surprising really), and for a few moments I was tempted to ask my husband to swap. We hesitated because we were not sure how swapping these gigantic plates would look in this establishment and so I decided to brave a mouthful, immediately concluding that swapping would not be necessary after all! That melt in mouth phrase springs to mind again. My husband was equally happy with his choice, the duck had a lovely crispy top and was served in slices with the quail and a small serving of foie gras to the side.
We were both quite full by this point and even after a comfortable fifteen minute break (through choice not slow service) we decided to skip dessert and just have coffee. Interestingly this was served with a tray of white and dark chocolate shavings and orange peel. I have never had any of these things served with my coffee before but gamely chucked some in. I was a bit surprised that we did not get our tray of petit fours with our coffee as I am sure we did on the other visits. All was explained a few minutes later when the waiter returned with a small chocolate cake with Happy Birthday and a candle on top. Not pre-ordered by my husband but simply because I had mentioned it earlier on when the maitre de asked about our day. As we left we got some chocolates to take away as well.
The bill for the evening, including an $85 bottle of wine, two champagne cocktails and a bottle of water was $325. A 15% service charge was added to the bill as is customary in Bermuda and this was an additional $48.
As I mentioned at the start, this was our third visit to the restaurant and each time the food and service has been exemplary and well worth every penny. It is a superb dining experience and its reputation and accolades are well deserved.
Dining in Bermuda