Wickford is so quaint at times you want to vomit when you visit it. Cute little thingies here, and adorably doo-dads there. Combined with the fact that Wickford remains a functioning fishing village, there is character here that's hard to find anywhere else. The village is forever battling a desire to fill up with overpriced tourist traps for the summer season at the expense of places actual townsfolk might like. Knick-knack shops come and go on a seemingly yearly basis, always replaced by another shop selling the exact same crap. Oh how sad it is.
Tavern by the Sea is no tourist trap. It delivers city-like cuisine and atmosphere for rural-town prices. I am, in word, hooked. They feature a lot of seafood, being in a fishing village, but there's also a wide selection of pastas... some of which have seafood IN them. Still, a hater of fish will not be left out in the cold. Steaks, pastas, chicken, and a semi-large menu give hope that you'll find something you like.
Presentation is very good. Dishes are garnished with flare and color, and wouldn't look out of place in Providence. The taste definitely backs it up. I've enjoyed everything I ate. Most recently I had bruschetta for an appetizer, which is served somewhat pizza-like with a sweet sauce drizzled on top, and chicken picatta for my entree. The chicken came with mixed vegetables and excellent mashed potatoes. The chicken was very good. I was ready to lick the lemon butter garlic sauce off of the plate. I must admit though, it doesn't take much in the way of garlic or butter to get me licking it. Some of the entrees are a bit pricey, and the question of value isn't entirely answered. I've also encountered a few notable gaffes on the preparation of fish like scrod and salmon. Salmon especially is easily overcooked and this has happened on a number of occasions.
The atmosphere is very nice. Cozy, would be a good word, because it's pretty cramped. They made some significant achievements with space, and it's not the most cramped place I've been, but it's not spacious. Still, the food and prices are worth it. Also, as of this writing, they had yet to get a full liquor license. So if you were hoping for anything, and I mean anything, other than beer or wine, you're out of luck.
Tavern by the Sea: ***
Price range for two: $35-$60
Tavern By The Sea
16 West Main St.
Wickford, RI. 02852
Tuesday through Saturday 11:30am to 9:00pm
Sunday 11:30am to 6:00pm