Nantucket is the isle of fine dining and of continuing change. Restaurants open, chefs change and new things pop up you might not even know about.
The biggest news of 2016 was that Chef Chris Freeman sold his highly regarded Oran Mor restaurant and moved on to become chef at the Yacht Club. The new owners are Ned Claflin and his friend and business partner Jon Tacinco, who are profiled in this article in February. Claflin will be the new chef and Tacinco the sommelier. Claflin grew up on the island, working in various restaurants, and studied at the Culinary Institute (CIA) where he became friends with Tacinco. Claflin’s most recent gig was as Executive Chef at Tessa, an upper west side New York eatery of some note.
The partners gave their new Oran Mor a soft opening in mid May and you can see their fascinating new menu here. Their Facebook page notes that they will be opening at 5pm all season. This is definitely a restaurant to watch as the new partners innovate in this lovely space and their lovely new resurfaced dining tables. We can hardly wait.
Just as interesting to us is that Proprietors Chef Tom Berry has gone to Boston to cook, and that owner Michael LaScola is now the chef. However, Berry is still a co-owner but tells us he “plans utilize\his 30 years of training to support younger, talented chefs in the role of Culinary Director at Yvonne’s, Lolita, and the soon to open RUKA, which I will again be a partner in (it will be Japanese-Peruvian.”
The Proprietors menu hadn’t changed much in the first two seasons, but with Berry’s departure, LaScola has introduced a totally new and fascinating menu, including his famous charcuterie plate, much loved at American Seasons. You’ll also find fried sourdough, cheddar pork cracklings, oyster stew, chicken fried trout and a host of other fascinating new dishes. It’s going to be our first stop!
New to the island is Oath Craft Pizza, right at the end of Straight Wharf. (They also have locations in Boston at South Station, Davis Square and Chestnut Hill Square.) They feature creative pizzas like “Spicy Mother Clucker, ” as well as more conventional ones, made, they claim, in just 90 seconds. No long waits here! It replaces the small Nantucket Ice Cream and Juice Guys store at 44 Straight Wharf.
New Coffee Shop
And, new to us is the Handlebar Cafe, a coffee shop at 15 Washington St that bills itself as “coffee and community space.” The comments on the site give it high praise, particularly for “not being Starbucks.”
One of the big remaining surprises of the summer is the August opening of Graydon House, at 17 Borad St, just up the street from the Whaling Museum. This will be a 20 bedroom luxury hotel, with a restaurant headed by chef Joseph Keller. In an article in Mahon About Town, Mary Bergman writes the Joseph Keller is the brother of French laundry chef Thomas Keller and they have worked together and separately in developing new restaurants. The Executive Chef will be Michelin star Marcus Ware and the food and beverage manager Jordana Fleischut. Here’s an earlier article about the opening.
The Nantucket Restaurant Examiner has been put to sleep, with the demise of Examiner.com. Watch this blog for future Nantucket restaurant news and reviews.