Ocean House starts summer with major updates to dining, bar offerings

The big changes come courtesy of Mexico City–born chef Dantón Valle, reflecting his European-style culinary training and heritage.

Ocean House counts none other than Taylor Swift among its high-profile neighbors in tony Watch Hill. Courtesy of Ocean House

As Gilded Age grand dames go, coastal Rhode Island’s Ocean House resort looks pretty darn good for her 150-plus years, and she’s keeping up with the times, too. 

Rebuilt from the ground up a bit more than a decade ago after new owners determined the original to be unsalvageable, the hotel now counts none other than Taylor Swift among its high-profile neighbors in tony Watch Hill.

And, thanks to the popularity of HBO’s “The Gilded Age,” which was recently picked up for a second season, the haute spot finds itself a 21st-century zeitgeist-y haven just in time for summer.


But it’s not just an interest in a bygone era of bustles and balls, nor proximity to Tay Tay, that’s earning Ocean House attention right now.

The hotel is welcoming summer with some major updates to its celebrated food and beverage offerings, debuting two entirely new restaurants, plus a new terrace bar, and it’s extending the hours of another of its beloved eateries to breakfast.

The big restaurant launches come courtesy of Mexico City–born chef Dantón Valle, who combines his European-style culinary training and his own personal heritage to bear, in particular at the alfresco Dalia.

Tacos at Dalia. (Courtesy of Ocean House)

Operating as an elevated lunchtime taqueria for the past few weeks, the restaurant expands to dinner this weekend, adding even more sophisticated, urbane regional Mexican dishes to the menu.

“I was inspired by my grandmother,” says Valle of his concept for the restaurant. “When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with her in the kitchen, and all the recipes and techniques I know of traditional dishes, I learned from her.”

At Dalia, he marries past and present, classical and contemporary in signature dishes like slow-oven-roasted pork shoulder tacos al pastor with grilled pineapple and salsa verde, filet mignon with a mole sauce that requires 50 ingredients and four days to make, and duck breast marinated in hibiscus-flower syrup and served with a prune-hibiscus mole. 


Valle has also masterminded Ocean House’s new beachfront restaurant, Théa, which occupies the hotel’s Dune Cottage (that is, the chic, sand-top structure that qualifies as a humble “cottage” by Ocean House’s always-exacting standards).

A dish from Théa. (Courtesy of Ocean House)

For dinner here, launching later this month, Valle — who spent time working with Greek, Italian and Spanish chefs — hops around the Mediterranean, focusing on fresh and largely local seafood prepared outdoors over an open fire.

He is especially excited about the menu’s grilled octopus, marinated in green mojo with fennel seeds, cumin, vinegar, and other spices.

Although the food will certainly be sophisticated, there will be something casual about the experience at Théa, Valle notes.

“Dishes will come out family-style, to share,” he says. “The idea is to be a little rustic. The intention and essence of Théa’s cooking at dinner is to make you feel at home.” 

Elsewhere at the resort, the hotel’s Secret Garden creperie and Champagne bar started serving breakfast for the first time over Memorial Day weekend.

A view of the hotel’s Secret Garden creperie and Champagne bar. (Courtesy of Ocean House)

Now, you can enjoy Veuve Clicquot mimosas with your Connecticut hen poached eggs over local vegetable hash, or, if sweetness is more your speed for the morning meal, with your local blueberry oatmeal or banana bread French toast. 


Still ahead this summer is Bloom, a so-called “sipping terrace,” which will occupy a patio boasting stellar sunset views out over Watch Hill Harbor.

Expect a garden party atmosphere and seasonally spot-on floral and citrus flavors in cocktails prepared with London-made Sipsmith Gin.

Might you see Taylor among the well-heeled types enjoying a cucumber cooler here or a sloe gin Collins there? Maybe.

But, even if she’s on property, the ever-discrete resort will never tell. What happens at Ocean House stays at Ocean House — just as it has since 1868. 


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on