Recently, we had the good fortune to receive a complimentary one night stay and dinner at a Mystic, CT landmark: Inn at Mystic and Harbour House Restaurant (formerly known as the Flood Tide). The Inn has been receiving guests for over fifty years as it sits atop a hill on fourteen nicely landscaped acres offering scenic views of Mystic Harbor and Fishers Island Sound.
Over the 30 plus years we have lived in the southeastern corner of Connecticut, the Inn at Mystic was “the” place to stay, however over the last several years, unfortunately, it has been on the decline. The future looks bright for the Inn again; under new ownership since March of 2014, with a new vision, and it has undergone extensive renovation.
At first glance one may say that the changes are not readily apparent. The majority of the changes have come in the way of enhanced and friendlier service, as well as renovations to the lobby and guest rooms. One of the best new features is the friendly staff. They love their jobs and it shows.
As you enter the hotel lobby, greeted by a smiling receptionist, one will notice that it has been transformed into a “British Colonial-style Great Room” having new furniture, a library, and wood burning fireplace. After completing all required tasks at the lobby to check-in, one will adventure to their recently renovated room, of which 59 are available.
Renovations to the rooms and suites include new furnishings, carpet, wallpaper, and modern amenities. The room we stayed in had a nautical theme with a blue and white color scheme and various nautical related decor depicting an early century whaling city / seaport. Beautiful, original artwork hangs on the wall.
After having settled into our room, we took the advice of Tim Brown, co-owner and general manager, and adventured around the grounds. One spot in particular, that was recommended to us, was a stone cliff between the Inn and the Haley Mansion from which one can view the harbor and watch the sun set while sitting in Adirondack chairs.
Be sure to watch out for bunny rabbits hopping around as you climb the little incline to the chairs. After having enjoyed the view for a little while, we decided to walk around the grounds and take in some of the other surroundings before the sun set and dinner. We found several spots from which one can view the harbor. Even our room had a balcony with a nice view, perfect to sit back and relax while enjoying a cocktail.
The Haley Mansion and Gate House are currently going through their own renovation. The Haley Mansion is available to host weddings and other events. Five suites are on the second floor of the Haley Mansion with period style furnishings and antiques.
For those who want a little adventure, paddle the cove using one of the available kayaks or take a bike and pedal through the towns of Mystic and Stonington. Both are complimentary. While in Mystic, stop and browse the many boutiques and art galleries. Take in a late lunch in one of several restaurants located within Mystic. On the grounds are a putting green, tennis courts, and swimming pool available during accommodating weather.
During our stay at the Inn at Mystic, we were also invited to dine at the newly renovated Harbour House, the onsite restaurant, formerly known to many as the Flood Tide. Since it has been under new ownership, it has been totally renovated to give it a new and modern look. From the outside it may not look much different, but on the inside it has been transpired from the renovations of years past into warm and inviting restaurant.
It seems so many locals have a connection to the restaurant. We even had our own story. One of our sons worked as a busboy almost 15 years ago at the old Flood Tide and the night we dined at Harbour House, we sat at the very table he worked at the only night we ever ate there. The Flood Tide used to be very expensive and was considered a “special occasion” restaurant so we never could afford to eat there, whereas now, Harbour House is an “everyday kind of restaurant” with much more affordable options.
We visited Harbour House once this past summer to enjoy their Happy Hour, so, we had an idea what the renovations entailed, but for those who have not visited, once you enter the door and walk to the hostess station your eyes will be drawn to the large lounge and bar that opens out to a gorgeous water view deck. Two other changes that will catch your eye, is the two large beautiful etched glass panes that separated the dining area and the large bay window that faces out to the Mystic Harbor. The tones are rich browns with a gorgeous inlaid tin ceiling.
Enough about the decor, time to talk about the important stuff: drinks and food. Harbour House restaurant offers fresh, seasonal and local cuisine, focusing on casual, but, elegant cuisine backed by traditional seafood fare. There are also handmade wood-fried pizza direct from the brick oven. Several signature cocktails are available to choose from or enjoy a brew from one or several of the 24 different beers on tap, which may change often.
Before I dive into details about the food we savored, there is live entertainment every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. We visited on a Friday night and after finishing dinner, we adventured up to the lounge to enjoy the entertainment. Luckily for us a table was waiting because it was standing room only when the band was playing.
The couple we were with enjoyed the Stonington Harbour Bommers as their appetizer. The “bommers” are perfectly cooked sea scallops wrapped with slab smoked bacon in a pomegranate molasses glaze finished in the brick oven. These were sweet and juicy and nicely paired with the glaze.
The entrees we chose were the Prime rib Special, Charcoal Broiled Duck, Butternut Squash Ravioli, and Linguine and Clams. Both the prime rib and duck came with mashed potatoes, green beans, and baby carrots. The duck was roasted St. Louis style with a honey garlic fresh thyme butter and sea salt. The clams in the linguine and clams were fresh, tender, and plentiful. The butternut squash ravioli was full of flavor, with the ravioli cooked perfectly.
They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. The late night bite menu is available from 9:00 pm to closing. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 pm.
We thoroughly enjoyed are stay at the Inn and dinner at the Harbour House. Every person that we interacted with from either the Inn or restaurant were friendly and eager to meet our request. Both places offer a relaxed and cozy setting to enjoy your weekend away or vacation. The restaurant offers either fireside, waterfront terrace, or bar dining; pick the one that fits your mood and weather.