You have an enormous menu with a lot to choose from – if it was my first time in your restaurant, what dish would you recommend I order?
Rob: Our most popular dish is the Drunken Scallops in sweet vermouth – our guests love it. A couple of other signature items would be our Baked Stuffed Lobster and our Duckington, slow roasted duck wrapped Wellington style.
It seems like the food at Mariner Grille is strongly inspired by the seasons. What can we expect this season?
Rob: December presents some limitations in Rhode Island. However, pumpkin, beets and different squashes make their way into winter dishes. We have brought back some classics like our Harvest Chicken or Pear and Gorgonzola salad. You can see a few new twists as well, like our Kona Filet with a Kahlua glaze and Harvest Ravioli, butternut ravioli with shrimp, lobster, sage and brandy sauce.
What fish is better in cold weather?
Rob: During the colder months Rhode Island’s shellfish and cold water, hard-shelled lobster markets are still vibrant, along with winter fluke.
Tell me a little about your specialty cocktails. Do they change based on the season?
Jeff: Our specialty cocktails are definitely seasonally driven. Current examples are a pumpkin mudslide, pumpkin martini or a butternut squash infused vodka with a cinnamon stick, cardamom, vanilla and olives. Pumpkin martinis and coffee drinks are a big hit, and cranberry and apple or butternut infused vodkas are popular.
Do you have any special events going this month?
Jeff: On Monday, December 12 from 5-7pm, we’ll be hosting a Wine and Cheese Reception for Children’s Friend, a provider of services to Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children. Bring an unwrapped toy, an item of warm clothing, gift card or cash contribution and enjoy wine and appetizers.
What is the atmosphere like at your restaurant?
Jeff: We have live music Thursday through Saturday, great bartenders, like Chris Byrne and Mike Healy, and a friendly wait staff. Rob and his staff are also committed to fresh, seasonally inspired creations.
Do you have anything special planned for New Year’s Eve?
Jeff: New Year’s Eve will bring great specials like two-pound baked stuffed lobsters, prime rib, rack of lamb and more, along with live music to help ring in the New Year.
Jeff Cooke is an owner and Rob Dennis is the chef at Mariner Grille.