During the summer months, people travel to southern Rhode Island from all over the country. They come to visit our beaches, fish in our bay, vacation with celebrities in Watch Hill and some come just to go to The Nordic. Most southern Rhode Islanders know about The Nordic, but how many of us have actually been there? Not being known as a light eater, I knew I needed to give it a try. I packed up the car with my family, and we made the journey from North Kingstown to Charlestown.
The Nordic is located on 100 acres abutting Pasquiset Pond. The property is pristinely manicured and just flat out breathtaking. The Nordic has set up clusters of Adirondack chairs, hammocks and even a fire pit to help you relax and take in the peacefulness. If gorging yourself on the buffet isn’t your thing, they offer drinks and a la carte appetizers out by the pond. While waiting for your table, The Nordic has cornhole and volleyball available. They also have a small farm area with horses and alpacas. The restaurant has been owned and operated by the Persson family since 1963, and they have the operation down to a science.
Each year, The Nordic is open from mid-April until just before Christmas, and it’s only open three days a week (Friday-Sunday). The hostess told us the best time for locals to visit is on Friday nights, which was good because that’s when we happened to be there. Saturdays and Sundays are busier times because people literally drive here from all over the country. When you first walk in, you give the number of people in your party, and you get a pager. When your table is ready, you pay the hostess prior to sitting down. The adult cost is $93, which includes everything on the buffet, non-alcoholic drinks, 10% gratuity and taxes. Kids age 3-7 cost $30 and kids age 8-12 cost $55. After you pay, you are taken to your table where the fun begins.
My family was seated in a small room overlooking the lake, and we were introduced to our excellent server, Stacey. Other than the food, which I will get to soon, the service was the surprise standout of the night. Everywhere you went, the servers, cooks and mangers went out of their way to be helpful and to make sure you were having a good time. Stacey kept our table in perfect condition (not easy with such a messy meal), brought extra napkins as necessary and refilled our drinks without any prompting. Though alcoholic drinks are not included, there is a full bar available.
The buffet is set up perfectly. I was concerned there might be long lines to get food, but we never had to wait. My family started with the raw bar. On the night I was there, there were littlenecks from Narragansett Bay, Watch Hill oysters and good-sized cocktail shrimp. I managed to eat a dozen Watch Hill oysters without any trouble. Along with the usual raw bar selections, there was an excellent lobster salad and a tasty crawfish salad. Other appetizers we enjoyed included scallops wrapped in bacon, hot peppers stuffed with provolone and prosciutto and their homemade garlic bread. We had all agreed we weren’t going to fill up on bread, but the garlic bread proved too tempting.
After our stomachs were properly primed, it was time to move onto why we had all come to The Nordic… for the all you can eat 1 ½ lb lobsters of course. The restaurant serves between 6,000 and 7,000 pounds of lobsters every weekend. They are so popular that two staff members manage the lobster station. One places the perfectly steamed lobster on your plate and the other gives you a cup of drawn butter. I overhead people talking about eating obscene amounts of lobster (in the seven to ten range), but I managed just two. In one word, the lobsters were fantastic. I wasn’t at all embarrassed to be sitting at the table in my lobster bib, lobster broth dripping down my arms, as I greedily dunked my lobster meat into the butter. The Nordic knows how to cook lobsters, and these were perfect. Even the tail meat, which can sometimes get chewy, was tender and sweet.
I probably could have eaten more lobster, but in the interest of journalism, there was more food to try. In the “meat room,” there were steaks cooked to order, and the piece de resistance was prime rib. I am extremely picky about my prime rib, and frankly it usually doesn’t live up to my expectations. I absolutely loved the slice that was carved for me. The rub on the outside was flavorful, and the Black Angus meat was yummy, too. There was no sauce to add, but it didn’t need it. I hadn’t meant to eat my whole piece, but I couldn’t help myself because it was that good.
We sampled most of the buffet, but even for our family of big eaters, we didn’t get to try everything. My brother was a big fan of the king crab legs. He asked for one, but the server must have known he’d regret his choice, so he gave him five, and he ate them all. My father enjoyed the lobster fritters and the lobster bisque, but we never found room to try the lobster macaroni and cheese.
The dessert station is a wonder to behold. There are all manners of desserts – cakes, pies, puddings, pastries, cookies and more. There is also a separate ice cream station with Häagen Dazs ice cream and the fixings for banana splits, brownie sundaes and root beer floats. My family laughed at the size of my Ghirardelli brownie sundae and though I couldn’t finish it, it was really good. I will also mention how good the fruit was. After failing to finish my sundae, I grabbed a bowl of blackberries, raspberries and fresh cherries to help settle my stomach, and everything was fresh and delicious.
If The Nordic is on your bucket list as it was on mine, just do it. Their brochure calls it “a truly unique dining experience,” and I have to agree. The whole experience is pleasant – from the atmosphere to the service to the food. Life is short; enjoy it while you can.
178 East Pasquiset Trail, Charlestown