Month: August 2017

Charlie Noble: a new Nantucket pub

Charlie Noble: a new Nantucket pub

That restaurant at 15 South Water Street that keeps opening and closing, once the beloved Atlantic Café, then the Seadog Brewpub and then Nix’s (which closed suddenly last August),  reopened this spring as The Charlie Noble. It’s run by Fred Bisaillon and Denise Corson, who also run the B-ACK Yard BBQ. The name “Charlie Noble” is nautical slang for the smokestack over the ship’s galley. The owners intend this to be a family restaurant much like the Atlantic Café, and open year round.

interiorThe restaurant layout is much as it always has been: an L-shaped room with the bar in the right corner, and tables along the windows and left side. The kitchen area is behind doors and takes up the rest of the “L”, since they need space because they have a cuisinart food processor dlc 2011chb. The rear windows look out on the water.

Their menu includes similar dishes to the previous occupants, with appetizers including crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, crab cocktail, lobster quesadilla, wings, and crab cakes, and, of course clam chowder. Fried clams are available as an appetizer (MP) but not as an entrée. The main courses feature seafood such as lobster and seafood stew ($32), fish and chips ($24), blackened salmon ($23), and golden shrimp plate ($28). They also offer prime beef short rib ($33), Mushroom Kale Bolognese ($24), and a 12 oz NY Strip ($36).

And, of course, they offer the usual sandwiches, including a lobster roll (MP), a codfish sandwich ($16), a pulled pork sandwich ($18), an All American Burger ($15), a Surf and Turf Burger (don’t ask, $18), a deep-fried chicken sandwich ($17) and a huge burger called the Fat Chad ($22).

And, of course, they have a plentiful selection of beers on tap.

One menu item that caught our eye is the Big Bucket Fried Chicken Dinner ($48) which includes fries, corn on the cob, coleslaw, gravy and a bucket that is supposed to contain 8 pieces of “honey-stung” chicken.

The coleslaw was very good, the corn on the cob was Mexican corn style, but nowhere near as tasty as that served at Millie’s. The French fries were indifferent: dry and a bit tough, and not very hot. There were also 4 dinner rolls (but no butter) that we weren’t sure what to do with.

Chicken

There were 6 chicken objects in the bucket: 2 wings (tips included), 2 breasts, and 2 legs. But if you cut the drumstick from the thigh at the knee joint, you have your 8 pieces. Of course, if you separate the wings into two drummettes, you have 10, but that way lies madness!

The chicken was warm, but not piping hot out of a fryer, and while the dark meat was moist, the breasts were rather dry. And that “honey-stung” wash on the chicken was a mixture of honey and lime, which we found rather odd. See if you can get them to leave it off.  We figured out that the gravy was to pour on our chicken breasts to make them moister, and that worked rather well.

If there are only 2 adults on this, you’ll take some home with you. The very nice servers brought us plastic clamshells, but we had to fill them ourselves. You might do better with the sandwiches, though, but don’t expect much from the (frozen) fries.

This is a restaurant that Nantucket needs and it deserves to succeed. But they still have some work to do and we wish them well.

 

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American Seasons: classy cooking, friendly environment

American Seasons: classy cooking, friendly environment

We returned again this year to Neil Ferguson’s American Seasons, 80 Centre St, for another fine meal. This is Ferguson’s third year as chef/owner of this island classic, and the menu is now definitely his own and more imaginative than ever.

interiorThe restaurant is dark but comfortable, with the original board game table designs remaining. The waitstaff was efficient and knowledgeable, and we were even able to meet Ferguson briefly as he talked with some of the diners.

Top on our list of great dishes this year, was his Lobster and Squid Ink Chitarra ($20, above) with lemon basil, ‘nduja (a spicy pork spread) and Calabrian chili. Chitarra is a pasta made, in this case, with squid ink and with lobster and spices infused into the pasta itself. The overall effect is sort of an upscale regional Italian variation on Lobster Fra Diavolo. Every bite of the house-made pasta had some of the spicy flavors of the sauce, and enhanced the lobster pieces.

Our other appetizer was a Salad of Beets, Bitter greens, House made Yogurt, lime and pumpkin seeds ($16). While this was a great salad, we sort of wished for more beets per unit greens.

One of our entrees was Salmon with confit of Pumpkin Pond tomatoes, smoked eggplant and garam masala  ($35). The salmon was tender, but with a crunchy top crust, and the yellow cherry tomatoes were so sweet we thought they were some sweeter fruit. And this might have been one of the best ways I’ve ever had eggplant! Did you ever wonder why restaurants serve fish in rectangles? Do they grow that way, or are there trimmings? make sure to check Davie twin peaks which is one of the best restaurant.

canneloni of veal

Finally, we had Canneloni of Veal Breast ($35), with wild mushrooms, ruby chard and Parmesan cream, that had a sweet, rich flavor almost like a stroganoff or Zurig’schnetzlets. Rather different than the Italian restaurant version of cannelloni, and far superior.

Desserts vary a bit from day to day, and while they sounded wonderful, we didn’t have room.

Again, American Seasons is a restaurant you should go to: the food  and service are excellent.

Greydon House: Nantucket’s extraordinary new restaurant

Greydon House: Nantucket’s extraordinary new restaurant

signThe remodeling of the old sea captain’s house, most recently occupied by Dr. Collins, took place last year, and the Greydon House hotel opened last fall. The restaurant, helmed by chef Marcus Ware did not open until late fall and it is only now that we were able to experience it.

Chef Ware was the executive chef at Charlie Palmer’s restaurant in Chicago, and more recently at the Michelin starred Aureole restaurant in New York. In this small, elegant restaurant decorated in a plain, Nantucket Federal style, he has created a menu of eleven appetizers from $16 to $32, eight entrees from $36 to $48, four sides ($8 to $12) and two sharable entrees: a seafood tower at $59 for two and a 32 oz Wagyu Ribeye for $125.

restaurantThe appetizers included Tuna Nicoise, Pumpkin Pond Farm Salad, Heriloom Tomato Salad,  Oysters on Ice, Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine, Tuna Crudo, Beef Carpaccio,  Fresh Fusilla Pasta (with veal Bolognese), Black Ink Gnocchi (with octopus), Lobster Tortellini and Crispy Calamari.

The entrees included Halibut , Monkfish,  Scallops, Salmon, Poached Lobster, Roast Chicken, Black Angus Steak, and Grilled Pork Chop.  And the sides were asparagus, roast potatoes, sautéed kale and spinach and caramelized Brussels sprouts. As usual with restaurants of this class, the brief menu descriptions don’t begin to describe the imagination in each dish.

Note that this differs considerably from the online menu.

Our meal

focacciaOur meal began with warm rosemary focaccia brushed with olive oil and sea salt, served in a little wooden box with the GH logo on the side. And they brought real butter to go with it!

For appetizers, we ordered the Pumpkin Pond Farm Salad ($16) which was made up of yellow corn, peaches, blue cheese, pine nuts, radishes and lettuces. This was an excellent version of this fairly common island salad with corn kernels as well as miniature corn adding to the novelty and one of the perfect recipes for cheese lovers.

Far and away our favorite dish last night was the Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine ($24) where the foie gras was “sandwiched” between a peanut butter crust and a cherry gelèe, and served with brioche, strawberries and figs. We lingered over every delicious bite.

zuke blossomAbout this point in our meal, a guest at a neighboring table came by carrying a small plate with a zucchini flower stuffed with lobster that the chef had just made for him. We grabbed a quick photo.

For entrees we ordered their amazing scallops ($44, shown above) served with three colors of roasted cauliflower, one of them pickled, raisins, pecans and verjus (pressed grape juices). Not only were the scallops perfectly prepared, but the accompanying vegetables were gorgeous as well as delicious.

Our other entrée was their Grilled Pork Chop ($45), with broccoli rabe, plantain puree and a sauce charcutiere. It is always a risk ordering a pork chop, since most restaurants cook them to be dry as leather. That, of course, we not the case here as nearly every bite was tender and juicy, since the chop was well-marbled as well as aged to enhance the porky flavor.

For this dish, we asked for salt and pepper in case we needed it (we didn’t), but imagine our surprise when we found that both the salt and pepper mills weighed about 2 pounds: apparently the silver was real!

potatoes

We also ordered a side of roasted new potatoes ($7) which were perfectly prepared. Each potato had a tiny dab of pureed squash on it as well to add a bit of color and interest.

Since we were too full for dessert, the waiter brought us each a box of 4 little chocolates. This was a really lovely touch.

All in all, an exceptional experience we will be happy to repeat. The bill, with 3 glasses of wine as $210 with tax but before tip. For the food and service we received, this was quite reasonable. Our waiter had a culinary education from Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island and was taking time off from cooking to learn about wine and the front of the house, and his knowledge of how the ingredients were prepared made the evening all the more interesting.

More about Greydon House

building

The right hand part of Greydon House is the original sea captain’s/doctor’s house, and  the room where the restaurant was created was apparently the doctor’s surgery. The developers got permission to move the building a few feet to the right and built an accompanying addition, painted gray in the photograph, to add the guest rooms of the hotel.

The elegance of the hotel is best appreciated by looking at photos of the library and a craft beer bar in the main section of the hotel. Dinner is served 5:30 to 10:30 pm, 7 days a week, and  the Bar is open Fridays and Saturdays until 1:00 and Sundays through Thursdays until midnight. Don’t miss this Nantucket gem.

 

Millie’s continues to excel on Nantucket

Millie’s continues to excel on Nantucket

This is Millie’s eight season in Madaket, at the west end of Nantucket, serving Baja-style seafood tacos, along with local beers (Cisco) in a relaxed family-style atmosphere with lovely views of the Nantucket sunset every night.

There are just a few things we haven’t tried, and this was the year to try them. We started with Beet and Avocado Crostini (above) with marinated tomato, baby arugula, goat cheese, and virgin olive oil. It was delicious but was enough to share, and the avocado was dominant.

tuna pokeOur other starter was Tuna Poke, which was a variation on tuna tartare, with ginger and soy marinated tuna with warm sticky rice, cucumber, nori, scallion, and sesame togarashi (chili peppers). This was amazing and imaginative: the sticky rice went very well with it.

 

scallops EstherOne of our entrees was the fantastic Esther Island: seared scallops in flour tortillas with creamy red cabbage slaw, guacamole, blue cheese, and crispy smoked bacon. Again delicious and again, quite a large portion.

 

 

Finally we succumbed to their lobster roll, call the Muskegut, which contained 6 oz of lobster salad on a toasted brioche roll, along with tomatoes, rice and garbanzas. Delicious and delightful, and only $29.

BUT, this year the lobster roll uses lobster SALAD, while it used whole pieces of lobster in the past. And the price went up, too.

Millie’s is distinguished for its fast an friendly service, informal  but  attentive, and many of their drinks and served in 1-pint mason jars. And they had an excellent guitarist that started playing at 7pm! We never miss Millie’s, partly because we can walk there from our Madaket  house, avoiding the parking problem as the crowds converge.  But even if we stayed somewhere else, the Madaket bus line stops right at their door!

If you go to Nantucket, don’t miss Millie’s

emery house night

The Island Kitchen keeps getting better

The Island Kitchen keeps getting better

Through windowChef Patrick Ridge’s Island Kitchen is in its fourth year on 1 Chin’s Way, just across from Stop and Shop, and it keeps expanding and has become hugely popular. Rated the Best Breakfast on Nantucket by newspaper polls two years running, it was mobbed when we visited for Sunday brunch yesterday. This is despite Ridge having increased dining room seating and increased the outdoor covered porch seating to run ¾ of the way around the building. Parking was a challenge and there was a 20-30 minute wait at 11:45 am.

 

However, the restaurant is as good or better than ever serving both breakfast favorites and some specials like his Animal (above), an enhanced Eggs Benedict served with bacon and sausage, with each poached egg breaded and briefly flash fried to give a nice crust.

french toast

In addition, their French toast, made using sourdough bread., along with a touch of cinnamon was outstanding. Service is pleasant and efficient, although perhaps a bit slower with the pressure of a crowd like this, but everything was done efficiently and with good humor.

Ridge has also taken over the adjacent building, formerly the Gray Lady and before that the Bamboo Supper Club, dubbing the building IK. Here they serve doughnuts, coffee and home-made ice cream. The doughnuts are about 2 bucks, but the ice cream is $4.35 for one scoop, and $5.35 for two . It’s $4.95 downtown at the Juice Guys!

With his expansion, Ridge has dubbed the Island Kitchen an American Bistro, and serves breakfast and lunch from 7am to 2pm, and dinner from 5:30 to 9pm. Ice cream, coffee and doughnuts are available unto 10 pm.

‘Appropriate’ opens at Westport Country Playhouse

‘Appropriate’ opens at Westport Country Playhouse

Imagine a house party or even a business meeting where the five participants shout at each other non-stop for an hour,. If you are like me, you’d just want to leave, and I nearly did, to be honest, if I ever need a house I’ll just contact Tiny house kits which seems to be easier.  And several people in the lobby I talked to agreed with me.

That is the first act of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins play Appropriate, that opened Saturday night at the Westport Country Playhouse, directed by Associate Artistic Director David Kennedy. In MacArthur award winning Jacobs-Jenkins play, three siblings, 2 of their spouses and  three children return to their late father’s home in rural Alabama, to clean out the house and arrange for an estate sale of the contents and the sale of the decaying house.

Betsy Aidem and David Aaron Bake
Toni (Betsy Aidem) and Bo (David Aaron Bake). Photo: Carole Rosegg

Toni (Betsy Aidem) is the eldest sibling, in her later 40s or early 50s and is consistently abrasive and angry to everyone: it is very difficult to identify with her. She is also the estate’s executor.  Bo, (Beauregard) the middle sibling (David Aaron Baker, above and left) is just slightly younger than Toni, and is arrogant, angry and hopeful that the sale of the estate will produce some income for him, as he has spent a lot on his father in recent years, and, we learn is likely to be losing his job. His wife, Rachael (Diane Davis, above) is only slightly more pleasant and quite sure her late father-in-law was anti-Semitic as he was overheard calling her Bo’s “Jew-wife.” It doesn’t take long before Toni and Rachael are at it hammer and tongs.

Franz (formerly named Frank) is the youngest sibling (Shawn Fagan) and the black sheep of the family, having struggled with drug and alcohol addiction as well as what we learn was probably pedophilia.

Anna Crivelli and Shawn Fagan
River ( Anna Crivelli) and Franz (Shawn Fagan). Photo: Carole Rosegg

He seems more reasonable than his older siblings but is not easy to like. His girlfriend River (Anna Crivelli) is a clichéd young (about 23) Portland hippie who works as a vegan chef, and while she is considerably less visible, her calm, likeable hippie style is a marked contrast to the rest of the battling clan. Incidentally, she was also the fight director. And oh, yes, there is a fight.

We are told that this is a play about family secrets that gradually reveal themselves, and once you learn that the deceased father was once a powerful lawyer before he settled into rural Arkansas, the “surprise” about his racist past is quite predictable. His character is quite thinly drawn, we only learn a few dribbled out facts about him as the play proceeds, but we see where this is going. To a large degree, they are all present hoping to get some money out of the estate.

The fight
The fight. Shawn Fagan, Diane Davis, Nick Selting, Betsy Aidem, and David Aaron Baker. Photo: Carole Rosegg
River and Cassidy
River(Anna Crivelli) and Cassidy (Allison Winn). Photo: Carole Rosegg

Three young actors are utterly charming in their smaller roles: Rhys (Nick Selting) as an older teenager, and Cassidy (Allison Winn) as a younger teenager. Oddly, even though the script always refers to her as “Cassidy,” the program lists her as “Cassie.” Finally, Ainsley (Christian Michael Camporin) zooms around as a hyper maybe 8-year old, in Act I and in Act III is part of the Big Reveal.

The set, by Andrew Boyce, has been lovingly executed by the skilled Westport Playhouse staff, led by David Dreyfoos, and represents the shabby living room, windows, semi-spiral stairs and parts of two other rooms in exceptional detail. One thing you can almost always count on is the fact that there will be some sort of inlaid flooring on the stage that is appropriate for the décor. The lighting by Matthew Richards is important, as there are night scenes without lights as well as lightning and outdoor glow coming through the windows. And the sound cues of cicadas chirping between scenes are excellent.

Playwright Jacobs-Jenkins has said that he wanted to create a southern family drama in the tradition of Streetcar Named Desire and August, Osage County, but while his characters are annoyingly well-drawn, the writing lacks the lyricism of Tennessee Williams or Tracy Letts. Jacobs-Jenkins, who is African American, noted that most of these great family dramas do not include any people of color, and that was a driving factor in his creating this play. However, the entire cast is white, although reference is made to the slave graveyard on the estate, and to past lynchings.

But having praised all these capable players, the result is 2 hours of people screaming at each other almost non-stop. This, we must assume, is the choice of director David Kennedy, and this makes for a really uncomfortable evening. While the publicity suggests that this is a comedy: it really is not. I counted just four laughs in the entire one hour first act, and only a few more in the other two.

The acts are pretentiously named “The Book of Revelations,” “Walpurgisnacht,” and “The Book of Genesis,” but the reasons for these names are not all that apparent. The first act runs about an hour, and after a 15-minute intermission, the second two acts are played without pause, ending about 10:40. The playwright suggests that the mysterious title might be read as the verb “appropriATE,” rather than the adjective “apPROpriate.”  I still don’t get it. The script lists 6 dictionary definitions of the word, and the playwright suggests that he has incorporated all of them.

“Appropriate” runs through September 2. Performances are Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesdays at 2 and 8pm, Thursday and Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3 and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are available at the theater’s website: westportplayhouse.org.

 

Baked sea scallops in less than 30 minutes

Baked sea scallops in less than 30 minutes

The delicate flavor of scallops is a marvelous treat whenever they are in season. Sea scallops are the bigger scallops; the little ones are called bay scallops and are best used in dishes like Coquille St Jacques.

This recipe is so easy, you should start the rice you serve it with first, in a pan, an Instant Pot or a rice cooker. Then preheat the oven. We got our idea from one by Christine Laliberte.

  • About 1 lb sea scallops (around 16)
  • 5 Tb melted butter
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, chopped in short lengths, green part included
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 Tb olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges or sliced for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  2. Place the scallops, melted butter and chopped scallions in a bowl
  3. Add the garlic, using a garlic press or just mince it.
  4. Add salt and pepper.
  5. In another bowl, add the breadcrumbs and mix in the olive oil.
  6. Place scallop mixture in a casserole and cover with the breadcrumbs.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven for 11 minutes or more, until brown.
  8. Sprinkle parsley over the browned breadcrumbs and serve with rice.
Open faced sandwiches with fresh tomatoes

Open faced sandwiches with fresh tomatoes

Now is the time of year to make our favorite fresh tomato sandwich: open faced with tomatoes, bacon and cheese. But you don’t have to wait for the big main crop tomatoes to ripen (our first one will come in tomorrow). Instead, you will find that smaller tomatoes have a richer flavor.

Our smaller tomatoes this year include Fourth of July, which always comes in first (July 17 this year), Garden Gem (from Prof Harry Klee’s breeding lab in Florida), Indigo Rose, Mountain Magic, Garden Treasure and one early plum variety: Gladiator.

tomatoes

The main trick to making these sandwiches is to put the bacon over the tomatoes, but under the cheese, so it doesn’t burn when put under the broiler.

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 4 sliced bread
  • Butter
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced cheddar ( we use Cabot)
  1. Fry the bacon slices until rather crisp
  2. Toast the bread and butter it.
  3. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on each piece of toast
  4. Put 3 half slices of bacon over the tomatoes.
  5. Put the cheese slices over the bacon

Broil the sandwiches for 2-4 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt.

Serve at once.

Pancake breakfast sandwiches

Pancake breakfast sandwiches

Why not make a breakfast sandwich using pancakes instead of a roll? Then it is all hot and delicious, right off the grill. All you need is bacon, eggs, sausage, cheese, butter and buttermilk pancake batter.

We never actually have used a pancake mix, because this old family recipe is so quick:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • Buttermilk (a bit more than 2 cups)

mix batter

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, break in the 2 eggs and add the buttermilk to make a thickish batter.

  • 2 Tb softened butter
  • 1 Tb maple syrup
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 2 sausage patties
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices cheese
  • Butter as needed
  1. Mix the maple syrup with the butter, adding more syrup if needed to get a buttery/mapley tasting spread.
  2. Place the strips of bacon and the sausage patties on a 350° F griddle, and allow to cook slowly.

bacon sausage butter

  1. When the bacon and sausages are cooked, put them aside and keep warm.
  2. Melt 1-2 Tb butter on the griddle and drop 4 ¼ cup measures of patter onto the griddle.
  1. When one side of the pancakes are almost done (judging by bubbles forming on top) break the eggs onto the griddle and allow them to cook slowly.
  2. Flip the pancakes and let them cook.
  1. Place a sausage patty and cheese slice on two of the pancakes.
  2. When the eggs appear nearly done, flip them for 10 seconds to cook the tops, and then place them face up on top of the cheese.

butter pancakes

  1. Add two half-slices of bacon over each egg.
  2. Butter the bottom side of the remaining two pancakes with the maple butter, and top the sandwich with the butter side inside.

one sandwich

Serve right away. You can eat them with or without syrup, and with a knife and fork or in hand like a sandwich. Delicious and satisfying, and while rich, it is way less food than a classic “big breakfast.” So there!

The trick to doing the eggs right, is to cook them until they are fairly opaque and then flip them only briefly, so that the yolks stay runny.

Stay hungry!