Dinner in the “Middle” of the Ocean: A Mirbeau Inn Mirage at Plymouth Rock Oyster Flats

I grew up near Toronto and summers often meant a rustic cottage by a lake in the region known as Cottage Country. Dinners were always on the porch or by the dock and we often had pike or other fresh fish that we had caught that afternoon. A plate of food that comes from underfoot always tastes better (whether it’s feet that walked to the farmer’s market or the ones that dangled in the lake off the dock). It isn’t just the setting, it is the freshness of the food as well that makes each bite seem to have an extra dimension.

New England has traditions of their own.  Maine folks head out to their “camps”. Bostonians go to the Cape, the Islands and the North Shore. Ever since becoming a New Englander, I have a new summer dream.  I have seen photos of Martha Stewart‘s famous beach-side lobster bakes in Martha Stewart Living.  Similar scenes are described and photographed in Yankee Magazine, Gourmet, Edible Boston, Bon Appetit and Boston Magazine. My husband’s office even once had an “urban” lobster bake in a city park and I thought it was pretty fabulous. My dream, though was to one day stand around a fire on the sand and enjoy a classic lobster, corn, and steamers of a true New England lobster bake (magazine-worthy or not).

My fantasy became a reality a few weeks ago when I scooted out to Plymouth to experience the Mirbeau Inn and Spa‘s version or my dream al fresco dinner.  Little did I know that this particular version would exceed any vision I had of what a meal on the beach could be. From the setting and menu to the atmosphere and company this was beyond anything I could dream up. I was invited to experience Mirbeau’s Oyster dinner which they will offer again next year for both Mirbeau Inn and Spa guests and those who just want to join for the Oyster dinner experience.

The Mirbeau Inn and Spa’s Chef Stephen Coe and his crew created a perfect fantasy out on the water along with family run Plymouth Water Sports and Plymouth Rock Oyster Growers. The evening began with a boat ride out to what felt like the middle of the ocean just off of Long Beach in Plymouth. We arrived to a scene of chairs set out, a table and a few sunflower adorned high tops laid out ready for a party. Chef Coe was working over the fire and guests were being handed glasses of wine upon arrival to the sound of oyster shells clinking against one another as the Plymouth Bay Oysters were being shucked for our indulgence.

Here are a few photos of the fantastic experience.

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Chef Stephen Coe checking on the baked oysters while the shrimp are resting. The pork belly is ready and a few sauces are being heated over the coals. These are just a few of the choices that were offered before the main meal.
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Guests are invited to join in the shucking or to have a quick shucking lesson. Conner Doyle, oyster farmer for his family owned Plymouth Rock Oyster Grower, is pictured here shucking oysters for cocktail hour.
Chive sauce being placed over
Chive sauce being placed over grilled oysters. I am usually a naked and raw oyster purist, but this sauce was delicious and the grilled oysters on a cool day out on the water was a perfect treat.
You can see the passion for the food here.
You can see the passion for the food here. These little pasta pouches were prepared with figs and mascarpone.  A little savory, a little sweet, and just the right amount of richness.
Grilled Oysters
Grilled Oysters with a chive sauce.
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For a different kind of salty and sweet than you get from the fresh raw oysters, these steamed buns with pork belly were part of the first course.  After a taste of fresh and grilled fare from the sea and the land, guests headed over to the oyster flats to explore where Plymouth Bay Oysters are raised.
Guests are brought over to the oyster flats to see where and how the Plymouth Bay Oysters are raised.
Guests are brought over to the oyster flats to see where and how the Plymouth Bay Oysters are raised. There is nothing quite like standing ankle deep in water with oysters below and a glass of cold wine in hand.
Connor Doyle and his family are the Plymouth Rock Oyster Growers. Here Connor shows the progression of oyster growth.
Connor Doyle and his family are the Plymouth Rock Oyster Growers. Here Connor shows the progression of oyster growth.

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Guests are brought back from the oyster flats just in time for a little more music, and dinner prepared by Chef Coe and his crew.
Guests are brought back from the oyster flats just in time for a little more music, and dinner prepared by Chef Coe and his crew.
The farmers on shore have been harvesting their corn. There is nothing like freshly grown corn and it is perfect this time of year.
There is nothing like freshly grown corn and it is perfect this time of year. The trick is to cook it perfectly and chef managed to keep the corns freshness even while preparing all the other dishes.
A gorgeous salad with strawberries and goat cheese. There was also steak for those who crave a little red meat.
A colourful salad with strawberries, arugula, candied walnuts and feta cheese. There was also steak for those who crave a little red meat.
Gorgeous lobster perfectly cooked.  Is there anything more beautiful?
Gorgeous lobster perfectly cooked.  Is there anything more beautiful?
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Paella was an unexpected but welcome dish. A little of everything and another fabulous dish that celebrates the ocean.
Plenty of space to wander, chat, listen to music or simply listen to the water lapping nearby.
Plenty of space to wander, chat, listen to music or simply listen to the water lapping nearby.
For dessert, tiny push pop cakes were served.
For dessert, tiny push pop cakes were served. But that’s not all…
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Seashell white chocolate with sweet raspberry fluffy homemade marshmallows were set in the sand for some post-dinner s’mores. The classic milk chocolate was available as well. There were parting favors of macarons and a fun homemade breath freshening spray containing bergamot, basil and evaporated St. Germain. The spray was one of my favorite little novelties.

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And like a dream, before we knew it, it was about to all be washed away.
And like a dream, before we knew it, it was about to all be washed away.

The entire party was packed up and put away on the boat.  The sun was setting and the tides were rising.  Guests reconvened on the boat.  Chef and crew had the entire dinner and “dining room” packed up on their boat. As the captain started up the engine, looking back there was not even a trace of the land we dined on. Soon we were headed back to Mirbeau Inn & Spa with our bellies full, cheeks smiling, eyes sparkling, and one pretty fabulous memory to hold on to.

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