“The Inn” is back.
The Inn on Shipyard Park, which opened a year ago, had been the Kinsale Inn for the last few years. But for decades before that, it was the Mattapoisett Inn, a favorite of locals when it was known simply as “the Inn.’’
New owners Nils Johnson and Andrea Perry are from the area, and Anderson said the business partners are trying to “get the vibe back” from the time it was the Mattapoisett Inn, when customers could get good, abundant food and have drinks while listening to music.
By most accounts, they have succeeded. They did a few minor renovations, including ripping out carpeting to showcase hardwood flooring, knocking out a wall separating the bar and dining areas, and putting in a small bar area near the porch. The porch now is the most popular spot in summer to have a drink and look out over Mattapoisett’s harbor, which ages ago was a major shipbuilding site for New Bedford whaling vessels.
Best of all, the great food is back, created by chef David Andrews, who cooked here back in the Inn’s glory days. It’s a simple menu, with around a dozen dinner entrees (and a smaller menu for the lunch crowd) offering a good mix of seafood, beef, and poultry. Soon, they’ll be offering a seasonal favorite, the whopping lobster roll.
Ruthie was the server for our party of four, and the amiable young woman explained ingredients and suggested favorites with informed enthusiasm.
We started out with a good-sized appetizer, two lobster egg rolls ($12), each 6 inches long, thick and crispy, with generous chunks of lobster. They’re served with house-made mango chutney, a sweet complement that’s not really necessary, the flavor of the roll standing on its own.
We also opted for the chicken wings ($9), ordering half made with sweet Asian chili sauce and half with buffalo sauce; the skin was crispy despite the sauce, with the buffalo-sauced half sporting just the right amount of heat.
The menu has a decent amount of appetizer selections, including onion soup and clam chowder, and a tempting tapas menu of items like house-made pickles and blue-cheese fries.
For entrees, we went with the jambalaya ($18), without question the biggest version of the dish we’ve ever seen, a heaping bowl topped with a giant rectangle of fresh-made corn bread; the perfectly cooked rice dish was loaded with shrimp, huge chunks of sausage and ham, and veggies. It was infused with a potent amount of heat that left my head sweating, a sure sign of a nicely spiced dish. I took half home and noticed I wasn’t alone: At nearby tables, take-home containers were as common as fresh flowers in tiny vases.
The Inn was popular for pizza, and is again in its newest incarnation. The 12-inch, wood-grilled pies start at $8; for $2.25 more you can add a topping of clams, scallops, or shrimp.
The resident pizza pro in our group ordered the “Very Veggie Red” ($10.50), with baby spinach, garlic, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives, and declared it the perfect balance between thick and thin crusts, on a bed of piquant tomato sauce. We all tried it, and had to agree it was one great pie.
We also tried the crab-stuffed salmon ($19), which is topped with a large slab of stuffing loaded with crab, and served with veggies and various potato options. For an extra charge, the baked potatoes can be loaded with, what else, lobster.
A place of comforting food should have burgers, and they do here, so we tried a basic cheeseburger ($9), a tasty burger topped with cheese of your choice, be it American, Swiss, cheddar, provolone, or blue. It was the smallest entrée of the night, easily eaten by one, while the others could be shared.
The Inn also has changing specialty events, such as a Lagunitas Beer Dinner, scheduled for April 3, featuring five beer tastings with five food pairings, at $55 per person, tax and tip included. Regular events include trivia nights on Wednesday, and Monday pizza nights, at which you buy one and get one of equal or lesser value for free, eat-in only.
After all that, we had no room for dessert — almost. It was our pizza pro’s birthday, so they treated him to a slab of chocolate lava cake to share, gooey inside a mound of mealy chocolate. The restaurant doesn’t have a regular dessert menu, Anderson said, just a small handout of items like the lava cake, tiramisu, and cheesecake, most going for $6, and the choices often change.
One reminder of the former establishment is the music on Thursday through Saturday nights, which includes holdover local favorites like acoustic guitarist and singer Chris Richards.
The music is low key until around 10 p.m., Anderson said, to let diners eat in relative quiet, and then ramps up just a bit.
If you want to make a complete night of it, consider the restaurant’s inn component: Upstairs are three small, antique-appointed guest rooms with rates starting at $125 a night.
If you missed “the Inn,’’ rest assured it’s once again in tasty form as the Inn on Shipyard Park.