DINING

Champlin's: Rhode Island's seafood champion

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With Theatre-by-the-Sea dark, the Rhythm & Roots Festival canceled, and a desire to avoid the crowds at the South County beaches, the summer was already half over before we ventured south to Galilee to visit Champlin’s, our favorite seafood restaurant.

We decided on late afternoon before the dinner crowd and Block Island Ferry arrival and were pleased to find a parking space and no long line. A short ride south on Interstate 95 to Route 4 and on to the charming fishing village brought us to the restaurant which has been in operation for nearly 70 years.

We always order the same thing: The Fisherman’s Platter, a heaping platter of whole belly clams, clam strips, sea scallops, shrimp and flounder, served on a bed of french fries (or red potatoes), with cole slaw, tartar sauce, shrimp sauce, and drawn butter ($29.99).

The portions are large enough for two, and are served piping hot. The whole belly clams were the most tender we have had in years.

Seeing that this might be our only trip to Galilee this summer, we splurged and ordered a pound-and-a-half lobster. Lobsters and other catches are listed at market prices. That day it was $25, and well worth it. We devoured the platter first and then enjoyed the lobster, which was still hot and cooked to perfection. We ate it without using the drawn butter, enjoying its fresh taste.

Champlin’s has a huge menu, but the platter and lobster completely satisfy our needs.

Their squid (they call it squid, not calamari) is local, as is the flounder they use in fish and chips, which is dry battered. The steamers are full bellied, soft shell clams. We have had the mussels, which are reasonably priced at $12.49 a quart.

Our favorite spot for dining is on the deck overlooking the channel, where we can watch to lobster boats come in and unload, look across the channel to East Matunuck, and wave to the folks arriving on the Block Island Ferry.

There is additional seating in two large areas, and social distancing and masks are strictly enforced. A very nice lady found us a seat on the deck, and when the friendly staff saw that we weren’t as spry as most folks, they brought our food to us.

Champlin’s restaurant is located over their fish market and ice cream shop, and you have to climb a steep set of stairs. Take your time. It’s worth it.

The market sells fish right off the boat. Our favorite is the lobster “knuckles,” the sweetest part of the lobster. Not cheap, but they beat caviar any day.

We always take Route 1 back home, driving past Wheeler Beach, the Dunes Club, and the beautiful, expensive houses, with enough open space to catch a glimpse of Jamestown.

You will get a close look at Narragansett Town Beach, where parking is a premium, but you may catch a car pulling out from the free spots along the sea wall. Stop and watch the surfers, crowded beach, The Towers, and the Coast Guard House, and continue north past Brickley’s Ice Cream, Bonnet Shores, and into the quaint village of Wickford before returning home.

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