Sunday Brunch Any Day

Dining at the 1661 Inn
Fri, 02/21/2014 - 1:30pm

The breakfast buffet at The 1661 Inn is one great way to start a day. There are many other places to buy a fine breakfast on Block Island. You can find muffins and bagels and doughnuts and pancakes and eggs in a number of restaurants or even in the supermarket. You can sit down at a table or take a bag home. But The 1661’s breakfast buffet is in a category all its own. I make sure I get there at least once or twice a season, and I try to bring any house guests we have. 

First there is the view. You might think that someone who lives here would outgrow the need to sample all the different places that overlook the water here, but I haven’t. Each is unique and so many are spectacular — the view from The 1661 certainly deserves that description. Sitting at a table on the porch on a clear day, I could see the cliffs beyond Crescent Beach all the way to where the island curves. The Rhode Island coastline 12 miles away was shadowy, but visible. The water where fishing boats gather on the southeast coast of the island was sparkling blue. 

I had invited a friend to join me that day because my husband had other things to do and I didn’t have to ask her twice. She even called the evening before to ask whether we were still going. 

When we arrived in the buffet room, one of the kitchen staff was carrying out an entire bluefish. The bluefish is the centerpiece of the buffet table, and popular with diners — this fellow was just a pile of bones by the time I was ready to leave. 

The fish is surrounded by the usual breakfast items: sausages and bacon, corned-beef hash, baked beans, eggs, hash browns, pancakes and waffles, muffins, fruits and melons. Around the corner on their own table are breads for toast and a toaster that seems to be in perpetual motion. This ingenious machine allows you to place your bread on a heater-rack that is then drawn into the machine. My friend demonstrated that once another guest’s toast was inside, she could place hers on the heater, etc. When the bread comes out the bottom tray, both sides are toasted. It was like feeding paper into a copy machine. If only copy machines ran so smoothly. 

While my friend was discovering the toaster machine, I was ordering eggs at the omelet station. There is a list of ingredients that can be added, and I put in all of the veggies and most of the cheeses. I was given a number and told I would be called when it was ready. When it came up, it was cooked perfectly, neither dry nor runny. 

Servers pour the coffee at the dining tables, but juices are self-serve. Orange and tomato juices, and champagne to transform o.j. into mimosas, were arranged around a large bowl of orange and yellow nasturtium blossoms. Cindy Baute, who hostesses at the 1661 once a week, brought the bowl into the room, stopping at tables to ask whether patrons would like to taste the flowers. We did, and found they had a delicate, slightly sweet flavor. 

By the time we finished eating, we were totally relaxed. There is no hustle and bustle here, no clattering of plates or shouting “eggs up.” There is just the serenity of this beautiful setting and food. Eating breakfast at The 1661 is the equivalent of spending time at a spa. It is, in a word, delicious. 

The buffet is served 8 to 10:30 a.m. Monday to Saturday, until 11:30 Sunday; free for hotel guests, $19.95 for others.