Few sights can rival the view from 1606 Restaurant & Bar, perched on the second floor of the Beauport Hotel. Gloucester Harbor stretches out from every angle in New England postcard splendor, with fishing boats and schooners drifting by and 10-Pound Light in the distance. Inspired by the vista, Executive Chef John Welch, who took over the kitchen at 1606 this summer, has changed up the entire menu to focus on local ingredients and house-made everything, from the bread to the mustard.
“We’ve flipped the whole menu to focus on local and scratch-made,” says Welch. “I grew up in Maine, so I’m passionate about New England ingredients.” So passionate that he earned a Best Lobster Chef honor while cooking in Maine, that nexus of lobster-loving.
Indeed, from the Local Tuna Tartar and the Day Boat Sea Scallops, both of which are likely from vessels that passed the restaurant a short while earlier, to the Heirloom Tomato Flatbread, the menu tells the story of ingredients from small farms and fishermen around New England. For a trip around the area on a single plate, try the Northeast Family Farms Artisan Plate, a generous array of rotating local meats and cheeses.
Of course, the menu also offers classic New England fare, like baked haddock, a lobster roll, and a delectable clam chowder.
“We’re becoming known for our clam chowder,” Welsh admits with a smile. And it’s no wonder—striking exactly the right balance between thick and thin, packed with fresh clams and served with a drizzle of herb oil, it’s elegant and fresh, yet still somehow completely traditional, in the best way.
Exploring Welch’s new menu is a perfect excuse for a staycation. A short drive from anywhere on the North Shore, the Beauport sits right on charming Pavilion Beach—a crescent of sand mostly frequented by locals. Hotel guests can take advantage of lounge chairs, umbrellas and towels on the beach, and rinse off at the outdoor shower before heading back inside.
Book a balcony room and enjoy the sounds of the sea and cooling breezes. You’ll likely find it’s at least 10 degrees cooler than just a few miles inland, so take advantage of the property’s cruiser bikes—free for guests—and pedal over to Rocky Neck to check out the galleries (ask at the front desk before heading out—coronavirus safety protocols have shuttered some shops). Or just stroll around downtown Gloucester. Most shops are open, with careful social distancing protocols in place, and most people are taking mask-wearing in public seriously.
Prefer to just chill out? Beauport’s Birdseye Rooftop infinity pool and hot tub are back in business, complete with bar service. With coronavirus restrictions, reservations for the pool are required, taken day of starting at 7 a.m., so you’re guaranteed to have your space and a lovely lounge chair. So order an Aperol Spritz, bring a good beach read and forget about everything for a while.