Swooner, the Boro’s latest culinary addition, opened its doors the beginning of May. The restaurant instantly caused a buzz in the area, replacing their landmark predecessor, Skippers Dock. Everyone was curious and anxious to see the changes, including my husband and I.
I was never shy about telling Saltwater Farm visitors to try “Skippers” for a cocktail and the incredible view. Their deck has been attracting visitors from all over New England (and beyond) for years. Many were sad to see an end to a restaurant they had grown to love, but excited for what was to come… and Swooner delivered.
To be fair, I typically like to give a new restaurant some time to iron out the wrinkles, but there we were, just a few weeks after opening, pulling into their freshly paved lot.
I immediately fell in love with the cedar shakes.
The sun had slipped away but we stopped quickly to enjoy that unchanged million dollar view off the (new) wrap-around deck before stepping inside for dinner. Happily, there is plenty of seating, but for those who wish to dine al fresco be sure to arrive early during peak summer months (reservations are for parties of 7 or more only).
Million dollar view of the Stonington Harbor.
The interior resembles little of what once was; guests are greeted by a refreshing neutral color palette with chic details and coastal touches throughout. This is a place where I wanted to sit and stay a while. Undoubtedly, you will too.
As we were whisked past the bar area and into the dining room, we couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous marble bar top (with built-in RAW BAR!). There is no substitute when it comes to fresh oysters and seafood, is there?!
From the capiz shell light fixtures to the fresh pine floor boards I felt right at home. The whitewashed walls and lofted ceiling are grounded by dark grey bead board and, tucked at each booth, cozy throw pillows perfect for people of smaller stature like myself (thank you for that touch).
My husband Mark and I each indulged in a signature cocktail. For him, the Dock N Stormy and for me, the Gin Dandy. While mine was not entirely “Dandy” (missing the splash of simple syrup), Mark was loving his.
Now, let’s get serious and talk food.
SOUP + SALAD
Mark had the New England Oyster Chowder (an obvious choice). One spoonful made him stop, look at me a little too seriously, and nod. That means it was good friends, really good. Swooner makes their own bacon and it was laced throughout this beautifully done chowder.
I had the Kale Salad which was incredibly fresh, vibrant, perfectly dressed, and topped with fried shavings of garlic. There was an earthy, citrusy, savory sensation happening in each bite and I would go there again just for this, a few oysters, and a glass of wine…
SNACKS + SMALL PLATES
We shared the Steamed Littleneck Clams hooked by the “pork belly” element noted on the menu. The clams were nestled into their bowl of beer broth with bits of crispy housemade pork belly scattered throughout. We were excited to dive right in, but the salt content ended up being a bit too high for our palates.
Jake, the gracious General Manager, surprised us with the Lobster Salad off of the raw bar menu. It was beautifully presented, yet a bit of a challenge to eat… I ended up chasing bits of lobster around the bed of ice (much to Marks amusement, of course). In the end, the sweet flavor of lobster that I love so much was lost to the herb vinaigrette.
Mark had the Roasted Pork Chop intrigued by the hen-of-the-woods mushroom. Moist? Check. Fork tender? Check. Residual brine? Check. The pork chop had great potential, minus residual brine. Our neighboring diners shared with us an unprovoked, similar sentiment.
I chose Pappardelle with Classic Bolognese (the smaller portion). Bolognese is something I make quite often at home, so I couldn’t pass up a chance to try Swooners take on the ‘classic.’ Much to my surprise, and enjoyment, they used fresh pasta in their richly flavorful, belly warming entrée.
Here is where things got GOOD. If you are on the hunt for a dessert only date, Swooner is your spot.
Mark had the Apple Fritters, which were made-to-order and absolutely ‘Swoon’worthy accompanied by a fresh, mostly vanilla semifreddo (think lightly frozen custard).
I enjoyed the EVOO Torrijas accompanied by dark chocolate ice cream, cinnamon, coffee, and Maldon salt. Need I say more?
Together we shared a glass of Sauternes, which complimented our desserts beautifully.
Admittedly, it has been a few weeks since our last visit. There are some quirks that may need to be worked out of the menu, but this tastefully remodeled farm-to-table restaurant will please the palates of generations to come.
Don’t forget to take a stroll down to “The Point” and stick your toes in the sand at Dubois Beach for a truly memorable evening.
Cheers to being swooned,
66 Water Street // Stonington, CT // 860.415.8123