Perched atop Watch Hill’s highest bluff, the Ocean House commands attention with its sunshine yellow Victorian-style grandeur craning into the cerulean sky. Since the late 1800s, the hotel was a genteel beach resort where generations of families and guests from across America came “to summer” as a verb. It fell into disrepair, closed in 2003, was demolished in 2005, and a resplendently replicated, elegantly appointed resort that included more than 5,000 pieces from the original structure opened in 2010. Today, it is one of only 11 hotels in the world to earn the triple Five-Star designation from Fobes. And the Sunday Jazz brunch is epic.
Ocean House always keeps fans on their toes with new offerings, reinvented spaces, amazing events, and bespoke experiences. This summer, The Sipping Terrace had made its debut — and quite an impression. A collaboration with Sipsmith and the first tea and dining experience with the London dry gin in North America, the terrace is a dedicated space on the hotel’s north lawn (in view from the main entry) not far from the croquet court featuring a quartet of intimate greenhouses able to accommodate four guests per table. Its whimsical swaths of yellow and green are punctuated by lemon and lime trees, Sipsmith-branded cabana chairs, a flora-draped swing, jumbo Jenga, a citrus-festooned bar and bar cart and a vibe that’s decidedly private. Think: English garden party meets New England summer.
The swanky oasis welcomes guests for afternoon tea or a three-course upscale picnic dinner, served family-style. I recently experienced that latter.
The first plate made an indelible impression. “Garden crudité simple doesn’t do justice to the mini clay pots that were presented, were stemmed mini veggies were “planted” in pumpernickel “soil.” They were served with Green Goddess dressing, hummus and edible flowers.
Course one was a compressed watermelon and fennel salad with Vermont goat cheese, served alongside a sumptuous gazpacho garnished with tomato relish and chorizo chips.
The main course was a three-tier tower for family-style dining including the most perfectly prepared seared Stonington scallops, herb-roasted chicken breast, charred romanesco, crispy onion flower, a summer grains salad served with thinly-sliced prosciutto and parmesan cheese in addition to a marinated stone fruit salad with basil syrup.
Just when you think this feast for the senses is on overdrive, you’re presented with the most delightful “lemon” on a plate, and as you gently slice inside, you discover the lightest orange thyme mousse cake for dessert.
For seating times, prices, and full menu, click here.
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Top two photos, Chip Riegel/Ocean House