North Kingstown is known for lots of things – the historic beauty of Wickford Village, Allie’s Donuts, being the birthplace of artist Gilbert Stuart and the National Guard Air Show, to name a few. What North Kingstown is not known for is its restaurants. On the rare occasion when a new restaurant opens in town, it’s a major happening. Residents hold their collective breath waiting for its opening and then rush to see if it was worth the wait. When Wicked Fish opened its doors in early March, it was no exception to the rule. A new restaurant? A new seafood restaurant? The only question was whether Wicked Fish could possibly live up to the hype.
Wicked Fish is located at the intersection of Route 2 and Route 102 (in the spot where the Corner Tavern used to be). The building is divided into two separate restaurants. Wicked Fish is more refined and serves upscale seafood, steaks and pasta dishes. Kitty Murtagh’s is an Irish pub complete with perfect pints of Guinness and both Irish as well as standard pub fare. The restaurants are owned and operated by a local man (he grew up down the street from me), Garret Roberts and his business partner, experienced restaurateur, John Keane. Heading up the kitchen is Lance Richard, who spent time working in Keane’s other restaurants in Nantucket and also at The Snow Angel Tavern in Vermont.
On the rainy Friday night my friend and I visited Wicked Fish, the parking lot was completely full and people were parking on Route 2. Luckily, I noticed a valet attendant and chose that option over a long walk in the rain. The valet is free and totally worth it. Entering the restaurant, you are presented with two choices: Wicked Fish is behind door #1 on the left, and Kitty Murtagh’s is behind door #2 on the right. Wicked Fish was fairly crowded, so I was glad I had called to make a reservation. The restaurant was dimly lit with lots of dark wood paneling and exposed beams on the high ceiling. There were many comfortable booths as well as a few tables and a large bar. The atmosphere is casual, yet provides some elegant touches. The wait staff wore plaid shirts and jeans, so it’s definitely not too stuffy. For this area, I think it’s the perfect combination of casual and elegant.
For a new restaurant, the service was already humming along. The manager was visible and involved, and I noticed the owners walking around the room, making sure everything was running smoothly. Our waitress, Michaela, was a former band student of mine, and she did a great job leading us through the menu. The restaurant didn’t have a cocktail list yet, but the $5 draft beers served in extra large pilsner glasses hit the spot. My friend had a Blue Moon, and I had a Long Trail IPA.
Before our appetizers came out, we had some excellent rolls with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and I thought the olive roll was particularly good. The menu isn’t huge, but there is a large variety to pick from. Despite the restaurant’s name, there are plenty of dishes for landlubbers. For the area, the prices initially seemed high to me, but after seeing the portion sizes, I think the prices are on point. For my appetizer, I ordered the Exotic Green Salad ($10). This salad was huge and chock full of all of the good stuff – high end greens, Great Hill Blue Cheese, spiced pecans, fried onion strings and a peppery apple vinaigrette. The salad could easily be shared by two people. My friend tried the sushi and wasn’t disappointed with her choice of the Wicked Tuna Roll ($13).
This could very well be the best sushi in South County. The ahi tuna was fresh, and there was plenty of it. The veggies (cucumber and avocado) were also fresh, and the wasabi tobiko (fish roe) was a nice touch. The restaurant has a dedicated sushi chef, and he was working hard the entire night. If you like sushi, you need to give this a try.
When it came to the entrées, the most important thing to note is the incredibly fresh, perfectly cooked fish. At Michaela’s recommendation, I ordered one of the nightly specials, the Tandoori Swordfish ($24). The portion was large, with two good-sized pieces of swordfish. The fish was well seasoned and perfectly cooked; it seemed to melt in my mouth. It was accompanied by a huge scoop of bright green, cilantro mashed potatoes, which were tasty and homemade. The cilantro flavoring was present, but it wasn’t overwhelming.
There were also some pieces of grilled cauliflower, a small portion of braised cabbage, tasty raisin chutney and some curry-spiced sauce. My friend ordered off the regular menu and tried the Halibut ($27). This was also a very large, but flawlessly prepared portion. Working from the bottom up, the entire dish was swimming in a creamy chowder broth. On top of the broth was a scoop of mashed potatoes, a piece of bacon, a few spears of asparagus, a handful of little necks, creamed garlic and a dab of red pepper relish.
On the night we visited, there were three housemade choices for dessert: Raspberry Cheesecake, Flourless Chocolate Tart and Chocolate Lava Cake. Feeling like chocolate, I decided to order the Chocolate Lava Cake ($8). I devoured my warm, gooey mound of chocolate goodness, and even my friend who claimed to be too full for dessert couldn’t resist a few bites.
Although the prices seem more suited to the big city, the portions were so large that I had enough left over for lunch the next day. With a variety of tasty food options, combined with a friendly staff and a classy yet relaxed atmosphere, Wicked Fish might be exactly what North Kingstown needs.
Wicked Fish/ Kitty Murtagh’s
20 South County Trail
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