Put your flaps up and landing gear down for final approach to this fine restaurant located, appropriately, at the New Bedford Airport. From the air, the Grille may look romantic or welcoming, but arriving by land, we entered through a winding industrial park road and walked through a formica-clad airport waiting room. The contrast made the sleek restaurant decor seem even snazzier than it is. Cape Air provides passenger service at New Bedford, and the Airport Grille certainly approaches island standards for those stopping in for a snack before their 50-minute flight to Nantucket.
For our earthbound excursion, we were joined by Estelle and Rupert, who were sipping espresso martinis when we arrived. We began with an order of PEI mussels in a traditional preparation of white wine and butter ($10). The dish was also available with littlenecks, and could be prepared Portuguese style, or diavolo. This was a great choice and should have guided the rest of our evening: when in New Bedford, even in a landlocked industrial park, eat fish.
The Big Dog and Rupert each ordered a salad which the ladies sampled. Dog’s “local greens” ($6) was crisp and fresh in a lightly applied balsamic vinaigrette. Rupert’s wedge salad ($7) looked pretty good, despite slices of wan, wintry tomatoes, but Estelle said the creamy dressing was oppressive.
Gina made the best entree choice of the night, selecting roasted sole ($18) and scarfing it down before the rest of the party had a chance to get a good look at it. The sole was layered with crab meat and linguica atop risotto with green beans. The stack was topped with hearty crumbs and a light lemony hollandaise sauce, a delicious combination. (Note to dining companions: See photo above.)
Estelle selected a pappardelle bolognese ($15) whose lightly applied sauce had a nice tang to it.
The Big Dog ordered a sirloin steak ($26) and regretted it because of that whole fish thing. The steak cut was gristly, the asparagus tasty but nothing spectacular, and even the bernaise sauce was weak.
Rupert ordered salmon ($18). It came with couscous and broccoli rabe and a piquant sauce, and was excellent. The very fresh and hearty cut of salmon was perfectly prepared and complimented by the yummy sauce.
With our entrees, we shared a bottle of Bazan malbec ($30) which we all enjoyed.
To conclude, we shared a creme brulee, because it turns out that Estelle also adheres to Gina’s rule that if creme brulee appears on the menu, you have to order it, because it’s invariably delicious, and it’s not like you’re going to make it at home. It was topped with a kind of a sad-looking strawberry.
Before taking off, we poked around the restaurant, which was quiet for a Saturday, and found a lovely lounge where comfy leather chairs were arrayed around a gas fireplace. We’re guessing that the sunset, as well as the display of air traffic in the summer season, would be pretty spectacular. But the food was great too, and that’s a rare combination.
1569 Airport Road, New Bedford