Breakwater features scenic views and delicious food

Never mind the view, which is pretty fabulous, the prix fixe menu at Breakwater in Stonington borough makes a visit there almost a necessity. 

It’s that good a deal.

For $25 or $30, a diner gets three courses, and the food is tasty, the portions substantial, and then there’s that waterfront view. But this offer, with a menu that changes weekly, will expire when warm-weather throngs arrive. On a recent visit, our waitress told us the price fixed special has been running about two months but will take a hiatus later this spring until the snow flies again.

But don’t despair: Breakwater has an excellent happy hour with half-price on drinks and bar food, as well as daily specials and an extensive regular menu that’s served all day.

We’ve ordered from all the menus but focused on the prix fixe for this review. We went on a weeknight, and the dining room, perched over the water, with expansive views of Stonington Harbor, was about half full. We arrived after sunset, but if you can, time it right and be there when the sun goes down because Breakwater affords a perfect view.

Our prix fixe menu offered five starter choices, and we decided on the Breakwater Salad and the Homemade Gravlax. The salad was a good-sized pile of artisan greens dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, dried cranberries, tomatoes, pepitas, and crumbled blue cheese. There was just the right amount of dressing, and all the other extras provided crunch, sweetness and flavor. The gravlax — house-cured Faroe Island salmon — was briny good and served with shaved red onion, fried capers, herbed cream cheese, and crostini.

We also ordered the Tempura Fried Shishito Peppers ($8) off the Small Bites menu. We’d had them on a prior visit, when they were part of the price fixed menu, and they were so good we wanted them again. The peppers, prepared with garlic-ginger ponzu and Thai chili aioli, are crispy on the outside, moist inside, and just a smidge spicy. We will have then again.

For the second course, diners choose from the $25 or $30 menus. There are three choices on each, and we selected one entrée at each price point.

Lager Steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels were our $25 choice, and they were worth every penny. The mussels were prepared with chorizo, roasted tomatoes, pineapple, and garlic, and came with piping-hot, butter garlic-laden crostini. The salty taste of the mussels was not lost in the spicy broth, and the pineapple helped to balance all the flavors. It was a bold dish, and we especially enjoyed dipping the hot, grilled bread into the flavorful broth.

From the $30 menu, we selected the Grilled Atlantic Swordfish. It arrived on a bed of jasmine rice, with sautéed spinach, caramelized baby carrots, crispy fried leeks (think onions rings) and a passionfruit coulis. The fish was overcooked, and that’s a shame, because the vegetables were exceptional — five stars — and the rice, a great companion to both the swordfish and the mussels.

Other entrée options included Sliced Steak Tenderloin and Spanish Cod Stew on the $30 menu and Butternut Squash Ravioli and a shepherd’s pie for $25.

Our waitress was attentive, happy to make suggestions, and told us all the desserts are made in-house and are all very good, with the Key Lime Pie being a favorite. We ordered one key lime and a Warm Apple Crisp. The pie was served with raspberry coulis and whipped cream, and it was light and flavorful, although not as tart as we would have liked. The crisp arrived hot, with vanilla ice cream that melted over the chunks of apple and crumble mix. We were already full when our desserts were served, but we put a good dent in both.

Breakwater is located in what used to be Skipper’s Dock and, for a short time, Swooner, and it has been open four years now. It is one of four restaurants owned and managed by JTK Management, or local legendary restauranteur Jon Kodoma and his family.

Early on, some customers struggled with the Breakwater menu, complaining it was limited and unhappy that it was a la carte. Those customers need to visit again. There is plenty to choose from now, from starters and small plates to bar food and full meals.

Our complaint, and we have visited several times in the past couple months, is that the dining room can be chilly. It sits over the water, and there are more windows than walls, so bring a sweater. We have had good service, with one exception, and that was a night the place wasn’t very busy. We suspected that maybe they had sent home too much staff. But otherwise, we have been delighted with the changes at Breakwater and would advise locals to get in there soon, before the summer crush, to enjoy the delicious food and good deals.

Breakwater

66 Water St., Stonington

(860) 415-8123

Website: Breakwaterstonington.com

Cuisine: There's seafood, but plenty more, including chicken, beef and vegan and vegetarian options. They have a great happy hour.

Atmosphere: The dining room is open, airy, with many windows, neutral colors, reminiscent of a beach cottage.

Service: For the most part, friendly and efficient.

Prices: Tacos and burgers are in the $13 to $15 range, a lobster roll $22, seafood pasta is $27 and steak medallions $28. Salads start at $10, more if you add protein.

Hours: Monday and Wednesday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Tuesdays

Credit cards: Yes

Reservations: Yes

Handicapped access: There's a ramp from the parking lot to the restaurant and bar. There are two steps into the bar from a different door.

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