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Here’s a switch. The latest owners of this turreted inn built in 1894 are refurbishing to the period instead of adding the updated amenities such as fireplaces and whirlpools tubs offered by many of their peers.
“Rather than modernizing,” said Jack Burke, owner with his wife, Julie Van de Graaf “we’re going back to our roots as a steamboat inn.” The couple redid the coveted Turret Room in which we once stayed with a marble-top vanity in the bath and an Eastlake headboard for the kingsize bed. They scoured the countryside to find antique headboards for the beds and steamboat-era prints and lithographs for the walls.
The eleven guest rooms in the main inn and five in the adjacent 200-year-old cottage (called 10 Perkins Street) have antique furnishings, a historically authentic feeling and international accents from Jack’s twenty years’ service with the United Nations in Africa.
He turned the inn’s former Victorian library into Passports Pub, a playful hodgepodge of vintage photos and foreign memorabilia that’s appropriate for an international town that has flown the flags of four countries. Besides the atmospheric pub, guests relax in a parlor area with a nifty turret window seat looking toward the harbor, on shaded verandas made for rocking and on a showy garden patio off the dining room.
Julie’s background as owner of a pastry shop in Philadelphia is evident at breakfast, which might feature featherbed eggs or baked-apple french toast, muffins and scones.
Dinner is served at widely spaced tables in two elegant dining rooms and outside on the wraparound veranda. [The] menu features such starters as sorrel soup garnished with gougère, a “big ol’ bowl of local mussels” in white wine broth, crab cakes with mustard aioli and a choice of five salads, one of them eggs a la russe. Entrées range from the signature lobster bouillabaisse in a rich saffron broth to pappadum-coated rack of lamb with rhubarb chutney. The pistachio- dusted diver scallops might come with a sweet curry-carrot butter and asparagus risotto, while the seared duck breast might wear a sour cherry-pinot noir sauce.
Desserts could be a pear-franzipane tart, plum crisp with vanilla ice cream and double chocolate torte with espresso cream.
Guests linger over after-dinner drinks in the old-world pub, where the remarkable collection of oversize photos of personalities from Grace Kelly to Mahatma Gandhi are subjects for lively conversation.