Opened in December, 2016, The Paddle Inn in downtown Newburyport operates with a “food, drink, sun, surf” theme—and it is working. “The response has been great,” says Co-owner and Executive Chef Suzi Maitland, an experienced restaurateur with Trina’s Starlite Lounge and Parlor Sports in Somerville, Massachusetts, among some of her other culinary business concerns.
Described by Maitland as “global coastal cuisine,” the food at The Paddle Inn is anything but the same old, same old. For starters, try the Thai Style Fries, a customer favorite with Thai chili sauce, scallion cream, carrots, cilantro, and peanuts. Maitland considers this appetizer one of their signature dishes. “Everyone finishes it,” she says.
Other popular appetizers include Crab Rangoon, with Maine crab and spicy apple duck sauce, and Chinese Chicken Salad, with romaine, red cabbage, carrots, red bell pepper, snow peas, almonds, sesame chicken, and chile-ginger dressing. For something else out-of-the-box, go for the Mezze Plate, which includes grilled halloumi cheese, hummus, curried carrots, garlicky tzatziki, and lavash flatbread.
Located just a few minutes from the water, The Paddle Inn delivers a heavy dose of seafood, reflecting Maitland’s lifelong love of the coast. The Cioppino is one of her personal favorite dishes, a tomato broth brimming with local fish, littlenecks, shrimp, calamari, and chorizo, served with charred corn salad and a grilled baguette. “I love seafood in general—and this is one of those warm comfort foods,” Maitland says. “I love any kind of red sauce.”
Another personal favorite (and that of her customers) is Pla Pao Fish, which features locally caught fish, lemongrass kaffir glaze, sticky rice, bok choy, and nam jim sauce. “It is simple and super flavorful,” Maitland says. “It’s light, though, so you don’t feel bad about eating it.”
Great food begs for equally great beer, wine, or cocktails—and all three are available at The Paddle Inn. For beers, try a local craft draught beer like the Riverwalk IPA, brewed right in Newburyport. A plethora of canned beers are available, too, with many brewed in coastal locations around the world. Wines are also predominantly sourced from coastal locations.
Beach-inspired themes define the cocktail program, which includes the Drunken Monkey, a three-rum blend with dry orange curacao, orgeat, Velvet falernum, and lime. “It’s really good,” Maitland says. “People come in and chant for the Drunken Monkey. We sometimes serve it with little umbrellas. It’s fun.”
Of course, what would a night out on the town be without a great dessert? Like cheesecake? Try the Goat Cheesecake with lemon curd, amaretto syrup, seasonal jam, and almonds. Chocolate more your style? Then opt for the decadent Choco Tacos, a waffle cone filled with homemade vanilla ice cream, topped with Mexican chocolate.
The vibe at The Paddle Inn is appealingly coastal, with Nantucket grey on the walls and tables made out of layered wood that looks like surfboards. A long, straight bar runs along one side of the restaurant, and photos on the walls depict beach scenes from around the world. The lighting is warm and creates a mellow ambiance. One TV sits behind the bar; unless there is a big game on, you are likely to see a surfing movie. Have an old vinyl record? BYOV. “People bring in their vinyl all the time,” Maitland says.
Just right for a romantic night out or with the whole family, The Paddle Inn is sophisticated, yet eminently relaxed at the same time. “I like to think we are vibrant and energetic,” Maitland says. “We want to deliver the perfect experience.”
The Paddle Inn
27 State Street