Scales & Shells, Newport, Rhode Island
Scales & Shells401-846-3474
527 Thames Street, Newport, RI
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“Fish stinks, but not as much as Scales & Shells”
Newport is known for its seafood, and there are many restaurants in town offering this New England specialty. However, they are not all created equal. Scales & Shells, located on lower Thames Street, looks like an up-scale establishment offering the best in quality and service, just without the ocean view. Look closer however, and you will notice a couple of things that can put a damper on an otherwise-enjoyable evening out.
First, this restaurant is CASH ONLY, which in the days of plastic is extremely annoying. They do try to warn prospective customers with a large sign in the front window, but if you miss it you may be in for a big surprise when the bill comes. This would not be so bad if Scales & Shells was a clam shack, but it is a fairly pricey place, especially if you are dining in a large group.
Besides the cash-only restriction, another thing that may strike a nerve is that there are no menus! That's right, no menus. Instead, Scales & Shells thinks that a large chalkboard located near the kitchen door is good-enough. While this may allow them to stay current with regards to the fresh fish that they have, and while it does provide more of that "raw bar feel", having waitresses barrel past you to get into the kitchen, along with having other customers fight you for a view of the chalkboard, is really annoying.
Even worse is that the selections offered aren't that extensive. Be warned that at Scales & Shells you can get seafood -- exactly what they list on the chalkboard -- and nothing else. If you are in a large group where someone may want something other than seafood, you should try a different restaurant. Offering no options besides seafood doesn't impress me as being very smart. Don't you think that a business -- especially a restaurant in a tourist town that is only busy during the summer -- should not limit themselves to such a degree?
I personally have no desire to go back. Plus I never carry cash.