by Terry Baxter
Winston waddled off the plane and took in a deep breath of sea air. His tongue rolled out, his ears went up, and his tail wagged. Even Winston knew: Home! Fair Patricia thinks home is New Hampshire where we have lived for twenty-five years. Of course, she loves it and has nested. But we actually spend more time at Ocean Reef than New Hampshire, and, if home is where the heart is, then Ocean Reef is home for me.
Every Ocean Reef Homecoming brings a flood of memories and an overload of welcome new sights to assimilate – friendly faces that I cant wait to see (both staff and Members), and construction projects that were only partly along when we departed in the spring, but now ready for their debut. Starved after a long day of travel and lugging baggage, and not sure what was open, we dashed off to the Burgee Bar. The menu was extensive, the servings were enormous, and the beer was cold. Island time settled in.
The next morning we went to the beautifully renovated Ocean Room to catch Craig Horowitz’s last day as manager after twenty-seven years. We felt lucky to be there to wish him goodbye. Breakfast was delightful as always, and the new manager, Kieran, was capable and attentive. Chef Josh surprised us with a “dessert” of hot beignets, the irresistible sweet fritters topped with powdered sugar and made famous in New Orleans. I had never noticed they were hidden under the “sides” in a corner of the Ocean Room breakfast menu. I am afraid I will become a hopeless addict.
The new Reef Lounge looked so inviting, we returned that evening. Everyone is an interior design expert, so opinions were exchanged on the décor. I immediately loved it. By 5:30 the room was packed to capacity. The new seats are comfortable for a leisurely cocktail and small plate or sushi, and I look forward to trying the cigar porch just outside. Chef Josh (who must live in the kitchen)(he also does Reef Eats) still serves my favorite (boom boom chicken) and has added a similar riff on shrimp that I can’t wait to try. Fair Patricia stuck with her reliable sliders, which Josh said were the best sellers. The evening was filled with a heart-warming parade of friends and renewed acquaintances. Home indeed.
The next night I sat alone at the sushi bar at the Islander (Pat was still busy unpacking). I had another happy culinary delight. Chef Kareem has somehow made the lobster bisque even more velvety and delicious, and the old stand-by, Melanie’s Roll, will be another nice reminder of the Horowitz family’s legacy. The landscaping is gorgeous, familiar faces abound, and there is no snow in the forecast – a pretty good start for our first weekend.