An Oyster Farm to Ocean Table Adventure
There is something about the ephemeral nature of seasons in New England that makes us appreciate each of their qualities. We come out of winter’s hibernation and soak in the sun. Fall is particularly sweet because the beach-going crowds of summer trickle off, yet we still have many days to enjoy walking the beach and dining al-fresco in our cozy sweaters. We stoke fires outdoors to roast marshmallows, and start putting on layer after layer as we watch summer fade like a mirage.
The Mirbeau Inn & Spa has found a way to savor the season, creating a magical evening that captures the best life has to offer in Southeastern Massachusetts. Celebrating its first birthday, Mirbeau has embraced both the Plymouth community and the perks of the town’s coastal location. With roots in the Finger Lakes region of New York, and in a setting reminiscent of Monet’s Giverny, the Inn & Spa can feel a bit removed from Plymouth. However, thanks to the innovative thinking of Mirbeau’s talented chef, Stephen Coe, a collaboration between Plymouth Watersport, Plymouth Rock Oyster Growers, and the Inn is born. This integration of local businesses produces a mesmerizing dining experience.
The evening begins at the Mirbeau Inn & Spa, located in The Pinehills community, where diners are collected and brought to Plymouth Harbor. Greeted by Plymouth Watersports crew and Captains Rick Johnson and Nathan Cavacco (Rick’s son-in-law), guests board the Katie Marie. Replete with a speedboat escort, the cocktail hour begins as guests are ferried out to sea for dinner.
There in the distance, rising from the sand flats off the coast of Plymouth Harbor sits the most unusual and surreal of dinner party settings. Guests see what seems like a mirage of tables, seasonal flowers, a blazing fire, and bustling chefs on the horizon; an oasis it would seem, ironically in the middle of the ocean. A communal gasp somewhere between disbelief and pure joy is emitted. Once landed, the smell of the charcoal and the clink of the glasses draws the partygoers off the boat and onto the sand.
Plymouth Bay Oysters are being shucked just a few yards from where they were raised by Bill and Beth Doyle, along with their son Connor. Chef Coe is busy over the fire, preparing the many offerings of the evening. We start with perfectly executed bacon-wrapped shrimp topped with a truffled cheese sauce, baked oysters, and sweet sacchetti pasta served with cheese and figs. When there can’t possibly be more, Chef Coe brings out spectacular pork belly steamed buns that the guests had smelled roasting over the fire.
After the plentiful appetizers, and while the rest of dinner is being prepared, guests hop on the speed boat and visit the Plymouth Bay oyster flats; the very same flats that raised the just-eaten oysters. Talk about fresh! This alliance with a local, family-owned business makes the experience all the more special as they are all sharing their labor of love.
Keeping an eye on the tide, the guests are zipped back to the sand flats, again looking like an oasis on the horizon. With fire burning and folk guitarist strumming, the guests are treated to a main course of succulent grilled lobster, clams, and mussels. Of course, a dinner of this nature must be followed with an imaginative dessert, and Chef Coe does not disappoint with his adult ‘push-pops’.
This is a feast that would be hard to pull together in a kitchen, yet each element comes out perfectly over this open-air fire. Dinner on this blustery Plymouth evening is akin to having a best friend with a fabulous beach house whose neighbor on one side is a renowned chef, on the other side an oyster grower, and the kids down the block have cool boats. Much more than a meal, the dinner was a unique experience literally transporting you into a world that embraces and relies on the sea. Though-Mirbeau guests are a group of relative strangers, by the time they’re ferried back to the mainland under a breath-taking sunset, all are united by this unusual oyster farm to ocean table adventure.
These meals are carefully planned with the tides and weather, so keep upcoming excursions on your radar. Chef Coe also is working on a Bee & Bourbon dinner, which will feature honey harvested from his own hives. And to further celebrate autumn, a Bog-to-Mouth dinner is being planning during the cranberry harvest.
Mirbeau Inn & Spa
35 Landmark Drive
Plymouth, MA 02360
Plymouth Rock Oyster Growers
24 Town Wharf
Plymouth, MA 02360
Leah Klein is raising one oyster loving daughter and one Jordan Marsh blueberry muffin loving son. She is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about food and family life in New England.