LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION.
These words came to mind as our party of five was seated at The Green Bean at Wentworth Marina in New Castle.
It was a picture-perfect hot summer day, and every seat in the house had a panoramic view of Little Harbor and the sandy beaches of Odiorne Point State Park.
We chose a sun-free spot in the two-sided knotty-pine enclosure that also houses the kitchen. Marina-blue tarps shade the tables nearest the water, and there are three picnic tables dedicated to those who wish to order at the counter.
Our server showed up with a pitcher of iced water, determined to keep us hydrated. We were tempted by the blueberry vodka cocktail, but four of us decided to stick with iced tea/lemonade ($2.50). The Primary Dining Companion (PDC) chose a Corona garnished with lime ($4.50).
There are a number of rum-based drinks that look perfect for dockside sipping, and a respectable selection of bottled beers.
While the Green Bean menu has numerous hearty vegetarian options (Gorgonzola and Spring Greens, Mexican Salad and Mac and Cheese are three), most of the choices are geared to the omnivores.
The ambiance is relaxed and the noise level low, with light instrumental folk on the sound system.
We started with a Caprese Plate ($12) and Guacamole and Chips ($9). The Caprese’s greek olives were to die for, as were the balsamic dressing over mixed greens, halved grape tomatoes, and bocconcini mozzarella (bite-sized). It was served with ciabatta, toasted on the grill.
We immediately requested a second round of toast, which our server obligingly brought ($1); all of the Green Bean’s breads and desserts are homemade. The dish was beautifully presented, picking up the green, white and red of the Italian flag, and we dug in.
The guacamole was a disappointment. The portion size was small and the chips were not crisp, which could have been a function of the day’s high humidity.
We ordered a lobster roll for the table (market price $24) and agreed it ticked off all the boxes — plenty of tail and claw meat, with a light mayonnaise dressing. The hot dog bun was underwhelming.
Dining companion 1 and the PDC could not resist the Chicken Bacon Cheddar Sandwich with red onion, lettuce and spicy ranch on split ciabatta ($11). The sandwiches each came with a small bag of Cape Cod potato chips. The chicken was marinated, with a frisson of chipotle. The spicy ranch got two thumbs up.
We were served with paper plates and plastic cups and cutlery, very casual, but probably necessary in a dockside kitchen. The paper straws in our drinks were the most elegant we had ever seen — black on the outside and white on the inside.
Dining companion 2 went for the Turkey, Bacon, Pesto Sandwich ($10), which our server described as the restaurant’s most-ordered item.
The pesto was a big hit, and DC2 even managed a doggy bag with a half-sandwich and the packaged chips. The ciabatta was again the base, with a crusty outside and tender but resilient center.
Dining companion 3 chose the Basic Burger, and it was a big one ($12, with chips). We tried to talk her into the blue cheese and bacon ($13), but she wanted the classic with lettuce, tomato and onion and was very pleased. It was an extremely juicy burger (two napkins required), a perfectly cooked medium-rare.
The OG chose the Chinese Chicken Salad ($12). The cool tang of the marinated chicken breast, zip of the homemade sesame dressing, gravitas of the roasted red peppers, carrots and scallions, and crunch of rice noodles and slivered almonds were just the ticket for a broiling day.
We were so full that we nearly did not order dessert. Our server extolled the virtues of the ice cream sandwich (vanilla ice cream between two home-baked chocolate chip cookies), the flourless chocolate cake and the carrot cake cupcakes.
We agreed to split a cupcake and we are glad we did. The carrot cake was moist, laden with all the good stuff and topped with buttercream frosting. This is a small caveat, but we would have preferred cream cheese icing.
The tab for five was $130.26.
The Green Bean is a bit of a hidden spot; once you drive past Wentworth by the Sea hotel on Route 1B, take your first right on to Morgan’s Way. Follow the signs to the marina and park in the shell/asphalt parking lot. Then walk until you see water. It is handicapped-accessible.
The marina location is open through Sept. 14 (weather permitting). The rest of the year, you can check out the eatery’s original location at 33 Water St. in Exeter. There is also a Green Bean at 100 Domain Drive in Exeter. All are known for fresh soups, salads, sandwiches and baked goods.
Both Exeter locations and the Wentworth Marina restaurant offer breakfast. I can think of no better way to start the day than heading to the marina and watching the boats make their way out to sea.