When the opportunity arose to come back,” says Andrew Brooks, executive chef at Westerly’s Weekapaug Inn, “it was a no brainer for me. To me, this is the best of the best.” The quaint New England atmosphere, tight-knit staff, and just-right size that allows him to bring personalized experiences to guests make it an ideal work environment for Brooks. “The inn is small enough that you can put your heart and soul into every dish. Every plate that leaves the kitchen you’re seeing, you’re a part of. The team’s small, so we’re able to work so incredibly close together. It’s a family here. It’s a special place to work.”
After graduating from Johnson and Wales and working in a handful of Providence restaurants, the Westerly inn overlooking the Quonochontaug Pond is where he got his first taste of hotel cooking. Now, after years working for the Omni Amelia Island Resort and Ritz Carlton – as well as a stint as executive sous chef at sister property Ocean House – he’s back.
The 123-year-old inn boasts 33 guest rooms, a waterfront view, and the modern, yet historically minded updates of a recent renovation. In the restaurant, the cuisine reflects the inn’s unique history and location, with a rotating tasting menu highlighting products and flavors of Rhode Island and the Atlantic coast. Working with local growers, farmers, and fishmongers, the restaurant serves only the freshest ingredients, fluctuating with the micro seasons of coastal New England.
For Brooks, “farm fresh” has always been a familiar concept. Growing up in Vermont where sustainable practices are more commonplace, he takes pride in the inn’s dedication to this initiative. Through a partnership with Earth Care Farms, the inn is able to repurpose the property’s food scraps to create soil for nearby farmers, as well as their own herb garden and greenhouse. A recently installed state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system and a white-water recycling system help ensure coastal ecosystems stay unimpacted. Brooks delights in the way these sustainable efforts support the environment’s natural cycles. “On top of the ecological benefits of it,” he says, “it’s a really fun learning experience for the staff, team, and guests.”
While Brooks says the ambiance of the inn is special year round, the winter months are his favorite. Fireplaces warm every room and guests cozy in to taste the latest seasonal dishes featuring winter squashes, salsify, Swiss chard, mushrooms, and more. He also looks forward to the inn’s annual Feast of the Fishes Christmas Eve Dinner, an event that has become an anticipated tradition for locals and visitors alike. All served family style, “everything is as house-made as it gets.” The dinner offers the whole cornucopia of coastal New England flavors – charred octopus, calamari, scallops, muscles, and clams – plus house-made cookies and cannolis to finish.
Planning a visit? Weekapaug Inn is open year-round and always welcoming of locals. “We love having guests come see the property, enjoy a meal, or have a drink at the bar. We’re very welcoming to the local community and love to have as many guests drive on as we can.”
Weekapaug Inn • 25 Spray Rock Road, Westerly • (855) 679-2995
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