Somewhere between Tenacity and Vigilant, Newport Rhode Island became our go-to destination for getaway vacation cruises. At 25 mph, it’s about 90 minutes away, it’s loaded with great shopping and restaurants, and it hosts two “seaside gin joints” with live music all day long (The Landing and The Deck)

We typically stay over by Bannisters at The Newport Yachting Center, Bowens, or The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina. Last year we also discovered West Wind Marina on the Southend of the harbor.

WWM is a nice little boat basin style marina that is a tad less expensive than the Marina’s up by Bannisters. More importantly, it opens up another treasure trove of Westend restaurants, especially Bouchard.

The Restaurant

Mrs. Horne and I found ourselves reminiscing about some of the great European cuisine restaurants we enjoyed in northern Vermont. Bouchard doesn’t look or feel like it belongs in a yachting capital, but rather it’s the kind of restaurant one might find in a quaint little town.

It may be the only spot in Newport with a dress code that bans young children, very European!

That said, this is fairly lame dress code. I doned my Eddie Bauer khakis, white Untuckit shirt, and burnt orange Topsiders and I was fully compliant.

Of course, Mrs. Horne always looks perfect…

Our waiter – Dan was an interesting man. Like all servers at Bouchard, he wore a tux. He also sported the hip two day old beard look which contrasted the tux in an interesting way. He described each special with extra drama and based on all of this I asked if I could take his photo for this review.

“Let me think about it and get back to you.”

Well that was the first time I’ve ever gotten that response! Needless to say, he never got back to us, but that’s okay.

He did give Mrs. Horne and I a good conversation starter as we speculated why he wouldn’t want his photo taken. With respect to Dan’s privacy, I’ll leave our guesses to your imagination…

By the way, service is a team effort at Bouchard and his right-hand-man Ben combined to provide us with outstanding service.

The Food

Our good friends Liz and Tony love this place. Both are true foodies, so I admit our expectations were high.

We were not disappointed…

I’m a sucker for an incredible bread service and Bouchard’s was a home run. A little raw sugar sprinkled on the butter topped off the warm crusty bread perfectly.

There are a couple of appetizers I never pass up and one of them is Escargot ($14). Another star, perfectly plump in a rich Pernod cream and two incredible pieces of toast. Crunchy hard on the outside, but still moist inside. Not easy to get right.

Mrs. Horne had the Tranche de Boeuf ($36) medium rare. Dan had to confirm that it was indeed filet mignon before she’d pull the trigger.

Based on Tony’s recommendation I went with the rack of lamb – Carre D’Agneau ($42). It was an excellent dish, but the lamb was a bit of a curiosity. If you’re not crazy about a strong lamb flavor, this is probably you’re rack of lamb.

Of course the dark sauce was exquisite and the vegetable medley was a work of art.

By the way, I ordered my lamb “medium rare plus” and the chef did not disappoint!

Earlier in the evening, Dan asked if we’d want the Gran Mariner Soufflé ($10) for dessert. Of course we said “yes”, but only ordered one to pace ourselves!

More art-on-a-plate and perhaps the best $10 dessert anywhere on the planet.

Not Really Expensive

In a land rich with 4 star restaurants, Bouchard stands out. Fine dining in Newport is never cheap, but I have to say that the check at Bouchard was quite reasonable…

Just remember that like all good restaurants in Newport, make your reservation at least a month in advance!