Wicked Fish/Kitty Murtagh’s:  North Kingstown’s New Hot Spots -– 2 for the price of 1

A couple of weeks ago I made dinner plans with two friends on a Saturday night. We wanted to try someplace new and different. Living in East Greenwich, which is halfway between Providence and Newport, there are a plethora of great dining options available to us. In true Rhode Island fashion, however, we didn’t want to drive more than 10 minutes from home. This presented a conundrum.

Then my friend Deb mentioned a new restaurant in North Kingstown called Wicked Fish. If you’re from New England, you know when you hear the words “wicked fish,” you’re expecting delicious seafood as opposed to something evil or deranged. We were all craving interesting, yummy food so we made the quick trek to NK.

Wicked Fish’s locale is not something you’re likely to stumble upon. It’s on the corner of routes 102 and 2, across from that interesting diner with the drive-thru.  It’s a good-sized building, actually home to two restaurants, side-by-side, separated by a large fish tank: Wicked Fish, which is the more upscale, seafood-oriented restaurant, and Kitty Murtagh’s, an Irish pub with an interesting, fun menu. We decided to eat at Wicked Fish.

The décor is rustic-nautical – very homey with a modern feel. I forgot for a moment that I was in North Kingstown until I asked for a cocktail menu. They don’t have one, meaning there’s no mixologist serving up craft cocktails with smoke essence and homemade bitters. Could it be that North Kingstown is ahead of the trend, knowing that mixology is OUT? Not likely, but we nonetheless appreciated the ease and comfort of ordering such standards as a lemon drop, a dirty martini and a gin and tonic, sans Elderflower.

As we sipped our pedestrian drinks, we perused the menu and were surprised to see that the entrees were a mix of surf and turf as we all expected, well, more fish. They do serve classic New England fare like raw oysters, lobster, littlenecks and mussels. They even offer a seafood chowder, though it’s not what you get at Aunt Carrie’s. It’s light creamy broth laden with clams, shrimp, scallops and cod, accompanied by bacon, corn and dill.

The rest of the menu was mix of meat and seafood dishes, including a small selection of sushi rolls. After discussing options with our server, I chose the scallops, my pescetarian friend Jill opted for the halibut dish, minus the bacon (bacon has a solid presence on this menu) while my friend Deb went for the sushi and mussels.

wicked1Of the four dishes we tried, all four of them were off the charts delicious. The scallops were some of the best I’ve ever had — seared to perfection and “dusted” with porcini mushrooms and truffles. Each scallop was served over a dollop of potato puree and topped with a pancetta ragout and saffron aioli (if you don’t like saffron, ask the chef to omit that as the flavor was somewhat strong). Every bite was heaven to the taste buds.

wicked2Jill loved her halibut that came swimming in a garlic-herb little neck chowder and topped with red pepper relish. Deb adored both of her dishes, not sure if she preferred the mussels in exquisite tomato and basil broth with grilled French bread, or the wicked tuna roll. We left completely satisfied – and surprised – at the stellar first-class meal we just ate.

Since it was early, and we weren’t nearly buzzed enough, we moved over to Kitty Murtagh’s for dessert and wine. The atmosphere there is also modern and homey, but definitely more laid back than Wicked Fish; dare I even say “family friendly.” We split a deconstructed brownie sundae, which had fun elements like chocolate covered pretzels. We all vowed to come back and try the house cubano sandwich and curry chips.

We stayed for a few more drinks (one too many I sadly learned the next morning), chatting with our server, the hostess, even the manager, because it’s that kind of restaurant — the type of place where the staff knows your face and eventually your name and favorite drink. It’s the best of both worlds – urban-class cuisine in a small-town friendly environment.  I’m thrilled to have two fantastic new food options a mere 10 minutes from home.

If you’re heading back from the beaches or Yawgoo Water park this summer, definitely stop here for a meal and drinks. If you have kids, opt for Kitty Murtagh’s.  If you’re up for spending some $$$, don’t miss Wicked Fish as the food is worth every penny. Both restaurants are open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, and they take reservations.

Wicked Fish, 20 S County Trail, North Kingstown

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