Month: August 2018

Brant Point Grill: extraordinary

Brant Point Grill: extraordinary

When you go into the Brant Point Grill at the White Elephant, you know you’ve made the right decision and come to a lovely, luxurious restaurant right on the Nantucket Harbor. You feel welcome from the moment you arrive, and everything about this restaurant is top notch from the food to the service to the gorgeous harbor view.

The restaurant is in an open porch with the harbor just beyond. In between is a lawn where children play until their bedtimes.  Brant Point Grill is essentially a steakhouse, although there are a number of other entrees on the menu if you aren’t steak-minded. The current menu shows Veal Osso Buco, Halibut Filet, Yellow fin Tuna, Corn Risotto and a Half Roasted Chicken. They also offer Lobster, Surf and Turf and Lobster Mac and Cheese (of course).

bread basketRight away, our waiter brought a basket of breads and a kind of cheese crackers along with some chilled butter. After deciding that we were both having steaks, we were going to order the Beringer cabernet by the glass, but ended up getting a bottle ($69), as this was far cheaper than their higher pedigree wines.

For salads, one of us ordered their Mixed Green salad ($14) and the other their Burrata salad with Backyard Beauty tomatoes. In both cases, these salads had some of the most flavorful tomatoes and greens of any we’d had yet had on the island. They were truly excellent.

One of use had the Filet Mignon ($49) and the other the Prime Aged Ribeye ($59). Both were perfectly cooked to medium rare and served with a dab of butter and a pitcher of béarnaise.  Several other sauces are available as well: Red Wine Jus, Peppercorn and Great Hill Bleu Cheese. You can also have your steaks Oscar style (with crabmeat) for $14 extra.

We got a dish of Truffled  Mashed Potatoes ($12) which were served on a trivet because they were so hot. They were smooth and delicately spiced.

mashed potatoes

We can’t say enough good things about the Brant Point Grill as it was a simply perfect evening. It is not inexpensive, but the service, food and view are exquisite.

night ferry

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Greydon House slips off its pedestal

Greydon House slips off its pedestal

We were thrilled with our visit last year to the restaurant at Greydon House, Marcus Ware’s new, elegant restaurant, and said so in an enthusiastic article. We looked forward to our visit this year even though it was clear the menu had changed. (The current menu differs from that posted on their web site.)

The dining room has the same casual elegance as before, but we were greeted by rhythmically repetitive pseudo-disco music, whose volume increased when more guests arrived. Since it was making it hard to talk, we asked that they turn it down, and  they complied.

Since one of us decided on a light vegetable meal and the other on duck, we each got wine by the glass. This turned out to be a good deal at $15, since many of the wine bottles were priced close to or above $100.

BreadThey quickly brought us their delicious focacia and a dish of butter patties so soft that a couple of swipes of our knives took up all the butter. We asked and they brought more.

For one appetizer, we ordered Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine ($24) with strawberry gelee, pistachios and roasted brioche. For comparison, we also show you last year’s version  where the foie gras was “sandwiched” between a peanut butter crust and a cherry gelèe, and served with brioche, strawberries and figs. That version was substantially better, and there was considerably more of it.

 

Foiie gras 2018                  Foie gras 2017

Our other appetizer was a Summer Salad ($18) with petite salad greens, roasted beets and aged gouda cheese. The beets had a pretty strong flavor to have been roasted, and tasted pretty earthy; the salad was mostly bitter greens. Last year’s version was Pumpkin Pond Farm Salad ($16) which was made up of yellow corn, peaches, blue cheese, pine nuts, radishes and lettuces. More imaginative and better tasting.

 

Beet salad 2018       Summer salad 2017

Since the duck was coming soon, we asked for salt and pepper in case we needed it. We had to ask three times before someone produced some. It turned out we had no need for the salt, but adding a bit of pepper was nice. We noticed that last year’s silver salt and pepper mills have been replaced by 2 little dishes and a spoon.

duck

The Roasted Duck Breast with cherries, sweet  potatoes and broccoli rabe ($46) was the best dish of the evening. The duck was tender, juicy and flavorful, cooked medium rare. The sweet potatoes were actually whipped with conventional potatoes to make a milder mix and that worked very well.  “Cherries” may be a slight exaggeration as we found two whole cherries and a few small slices. Say 2.2 cherries. And while chefs like to serve charred broccoli rabe, these were scorched to ash. Not that great.

artichokes

The Poached Artichokes ($42) was probably the biggest disappointment, served with beet ricotta gnudi and Nantucket honey. There were little artichoke halves on the plate, amounting to three artichoke hearts. Call it a half-hearted presentation. The artichokes were pretty flavorless, and despite the presentation, this was an awfully small amount of food for $42. We didn’t think much of it.

They never offered to refill our wine glasses, so we saved some money, but would have preferred another glass.

We chose to skip dessert and head for ice cream at the Juice Guys, but we noticed that they aren’t giving away little boxes of chocolate this year.

Overall, this was pretty disappointing and we hope they get back into gear by our next visit.

 

The Charlie Noble: a nice restaurant and pub

The Charlie Noble: a nice restaurant and pub

The Charlie Noble has come a long way since we reviewed it last year.  (As you may know, the phrase “the Charlie Noble” referred in about 1850 to the smokestack from the ship’s galley.)

The basic outline of the menu remains the same but it is smaller and more focused. They’ve done away with the not very successful fried chicken and, if we recall, some huge seafood dish as well.  But what they now have is really quite successful and has turned Charlie Noble into a family sort of pub.

chowderWhile their current menu is too extensive to review in detail, we decided to focus on the simple things like sandwiches, burgers and fries. We both ordered a cup of their clam chowder, and found it had a decent number of clam pieces as well as some bacon, and, of course, potatoes. We thought it was very good.

Then, one of us ordered a Codfish Sandwich, beer battered with tartar sauce, lemon and romaine lettuce for $17. This was good, but too big to be considered a sandwich, and an awful lot of fish for one person. The fish was tender and hot with a nice flavor.

fish

The other ordered the smallest burger on the menu, called the All American Burger ($17) which was an 8oz stack of 2 prime beef patties, with yellow cheese, mustard, pickles and ketchup. We asked the waiter to serve it medium rare, but he said that since the patties were quite thin, that wasn’t possible, but that they would be pinkish. They were indeed, but this is a lot of sandwich, and way too much for a child, for example. We hope they have a children’s menu, because the only other burger is the Fat Chad, which is a triple patty monster.

burger

The French Fries were quite good and a great improvement from last year. And the harbor view out the back window is as lovely as ever. But we don’t see what younger patrons or those with modest appetites would order. We hope they continue to work on it, and this is a great improvement from last year, and wish them great success. Maybe offer a single patty burger. And how about real cheddar cheese? Just a thought.

view

Millie’s: a Nantucket favorite

Millie’s: a Nantucket favorite

buildingMillie’s has been a hugely successful restaurant at the west end of Nantucket, in Madaket since 2010. To call it “Mexican” cuisine or CalMex just don’t do it justice. Sure, they have quesadillas and fish tacos, but they also have imaginative salads, appetizers and Po’ Boys, you won’t find together anywhere else. All of them served informally at tables inside and picnic tables and benches outside, where kids can play and where your dog is welcome.

None of the dishes we ordered this year fall into standard categories, and a couple of them seem new to us . We started with a delicious Burrata Beet salad with roasted golden and red beets with burrata, sherry vinegar, candied kumquat and crushed pistachios. Pretty imaginative for what you thought might be a taco joint!

beets

The other appetizer we tried was a Lobster and Mango Summer Roll: with soba noodles, Thai basil and avocado wrapped in rice paper with a sweet chili dipping sauce. While you might think this is a dish with a hint of lobster among its ingredients, if you unwrap one and look, there is quite a good portion of lobster claw meat included. Great with the dipping sauce, or even just picking out the lobster.

lobster mango

And, if you are wondering where on the Island to go for fried clams, consider this “Millies Bridge”Po Boy: a clam roll to end all clam rolls, and even enough you could split one!  You can’t do much better than that. Of course, Millie was a real person, and Millie’s actual bridge to Smith point is less than half a mile from the restaurant!

 

We always make at least one visit to Millies every time we come! And it is a great place to watch Madaket sunsets!

dog dish

Fog Island: a breakfast favorite

Fog Island: a breakfast favorite

signRight downtown is one of the best breakfasts you can get: at Fog Island on South Water Street. Popular with both locals and visitors, this reasonably priced restaurant serves breakfast (7 till noon) and lunch (11 to 2) to really delighted customers. They also feature takeout rolls and breakfast sandwiches.

Run by Mark and Anne Dawson since 1993, this fine example simple, but elegant cuisine is a Nantucket landmark.

At this morning’s visit, we went for the French toast and Buttermilk pancakes for a change. The elegant French Toast presentation is featured above. And the pancakes are so capacious you can hardly photograph them! These are plate filling pancakes so large that you don’t need to order the full stack. Really. You don’t. In fact, the sausage was served on a separate plate because there was no room.

We also appreciated the Tazo tea served in an actual teapot. We’re already looking forward to another visit!

Nantucket goes trendy and incoherent

Well, it had to happen. Kale and quinoa have taken over the island’s restaurants.

 

Some of this is caused by the new “restaurant,” Lemon Press, which has taken “Fresh, organic and healthy” to new sweet and lows. Only one of these three adjectives has an actual meaning! They serve a number of incoherent smoothies, my favorite in incoherence is the TB12, with “blueberries, banana, almond milk, almond butter, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, vegan protein.” Oy. They also offer acai bowls which have no real benefit and the Vegan Brekky, made up of “lentil veggie cake, greens, avocado, tomato, muhammara,” the point at which we realize they are speaking some other language entirely.

Looking through the Nantucket Restaurant Guide, you will find all sorts of menuish obfuscations such as

  • Shrimp Shumai : Asian dumpling with ohitashi, scallion and shoyu (at the late, lamented Atlas)
  • Seared Local Cod: Red quinoa, roasted cauliflower, harissa béarnaise, cucumber raita and cilantro (Black Eyed Susan’s)
  • Blue corn sopes, ancho chili pork, cotija cheese, avocado, radish sprouts, strained kefir (Galley Beach)
  • Organic Coffee and Tea: with raw sugar, agave, organic creamers (dairy and non-dairy) (The Green)
  • Cavendish Quali: Green Freekh Tabbouleh, Aged Balsamic (Le Languedoc)
  • Cali Power Breakfast: Organic egg, cheddar cheese, spinach, avocado, tomato on a 7-grain bag. (Lemon Press)
  • Asian Foot Long Wagyu Dog: wasabi aioli, cucumber, pickled carrot, cilantro, jalapeno, nori, fries (Met on Main. Aw, come on!)
  • Razor Clam Garganeli: choriço and chopped clam Bolognese, sweety drop peppers, stinging nettle pasta, onion cream. (Oran Mor)
  • Quail “Tikka Masala”: Cous cous, honey, cashews, raita. (Proprietors)
  • Wood-grilled softshell crab: asparagus mimosa and sauce gribiche. (Straight Wharf)
  • Caesar: Grilled bread croutons, baby romaines, parmigiano, boquerones. (Summer House)
  • Carnaroli Risotto “Fruits de Mer”: Red rock crab, Judith Point squid, uni, bottarga, brown butter. (Toppers).
  • Spaghetti alle vongole: house spaghetti, littleneck clams, braised allium and house made n’duja. (Ventuno)
  • Acai Bowl: Frozen organic acai puree, fresh mixed berries, banana, granola, coconut flake. (Yummy)

Ok, now all of these are (mostly) credible restaurants serving good to excellent food. But look, people, ”Organic” is a marketing term with no health or nutrition benefits, and there is no evidence that acai berries have any health (or weight loss) benefits.  And confusing diners with trendy terms is funny, but not very evocative. And raw sugar is still sugar! And so is agave.

Photos from some of these restaurants

 

Ocean trout Toppers                        Kimchi, Proprietors

 

Eggs Benedict ..Blackeyed Susans    Scallops…Galley Beach

 

Cod  ..Le Languedoc   Beet rosace..Oran Mor

 

Flounder…  Summer House   Meatballs…Ventuno

 

 

We try Nueske’s Premium Bacon

We try Nueske’s Premium Bacon

We recently received a catalog offering s number of Nueske’s premium pork products, starting with their 5 types of bacon, and going on to offer sausages, ham, smoke pork chops and other products.  The photos and descriptions were so beguiling, we had to try the bacon. We ordered their Gourmet Bacon Assortment, of Applewood Smoked Bacon, Applewood Smoked Peppered Bacon and Cherrywood Smoked Bacon, which is uncured.

AssortmentThe assortment cost $34.99 plus shipping, which made this bacon pretty expensive, probably twice what you pay for supermarket bacon, but this bacon itself was of superior quality and quite delicious. They also have a thick sliced version that you can cook on a grill. We’ll have to try that, too.

Nueske’s is located in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, west of Green Bay, where they have been making their smoked meats since 1933. However, the family has there since 1882, making smoked meats for themselves. Today, they use imported spices and still use the original Nueske recipes. They smoke their bacon for 24 hours over applewood embers, which gives is quite a distinctive, delicious taste. It also is much less fatty than mass-market bacons, although, of course, it does render some fat when you cook it.

Their Applewood Smoked Bacon is cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite, while their Wild Cherrywood smoked bacon is uncured, but treated with sea salt, raw sugar and cultured celery juice (which provides the nitrite preservatives).

We tried all three types, and loved all of them.

The Applewood Smoked bacon has the strongest flavor, but it is in no way objectionable, and the bacon goes very well with traditional bacon and eggs breakfasts. While there is some fat rendered as you cook it, the bacon shrinks much less than commercial bacons, but there is enough fat to fry eggs in.

The Peppered Bacon, is the same type of bacon as the Applewood Smokes, but with coarse pepper along the edges. You might think this would overwhelm the bacon, but it really doesn’t. After cooking, the Peppered Bacon has a mild, peppery taste not unlike what you’d get if you added salt and pepper to your eggs.

Finally, the Wild Cherrywood Smoked Bacon is uncured, and you have to keep it refrigerated (or frozen). The smoky flavor is milder than in the applewood smoked bacon, but it has just as little shrinkage, and we cooked eggs in the fat from 5 slices and had plenty to work with. We really like this one the best.

Yes, it costs more, but this is really excellent bacon, and we’ll probably order some more and try out their smoked pork chops and hams, too.

 

 

Roundup verdict in California: nothing to do with science

Roundup verdict in California: nothing to do with science

You have probably read about the verdict in California where a jury awarded the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson $280 million in damages because he developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma while working as a groundskeeper and using Roundup.

You never know how juries make their decisions, as attorney and farmer, Amanda Zaluckyj explains. But we can be sure, that science had nothing to do with it. Maybe they chose to disregard the science because they sympathized with Mr Johnson’s severe lymphoma. But, as Monsanto pointed out in the trial, Johnson’s lymphoma was diagnosed some 10 years before he began using Roundup.

johnsons cancer monsanto

Maybe they didn’t  like Monsanto. The Organic Consumers Association, and US Right To Know have been pushing this anti-biotechnology line for years in order to scare people into using their pricier organic products. Henry Miller has even connected these attacks to the Russian government.

But the science is very clear and has been for years. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup has about the same toxicity as salt or aspirin. It has been in use since 1974 and is incredible effective and incredibly safe.  Here’s one review on toxicity and here’s another on carcinogenicity.

Probably the only actual report of Roundup causing cancer was made by the IARC, a small French research unit, who when they lost their budget, joined the WHO as a small research division. The trouble with that group is that they were not scientifically driven, but politically driven, considering only a few cherry-picked papers out of the hundreds of papers available on Roundup. And their conclusion was driven by lobbyist Christopher Portier, who formerly worked for the Environmental Defense Fund. Portier is not, however, a toxicologist.  So, when the IARC declared that  Roundup was “probably carcinogenic” they were not considering scientific data, but driven by politics.  I wrote about this in detail here.

Soon after this, the WHO overrode the IARC, and, along with the UN, declared that Roundup was NOT carcinogenic, based on available scientific data. The EFSA quickly agreed.

Courtrooms are not a good place for science,  because juries do not try to understand the scientific method or scientific findings, and instead try to connect with the emotions of the case: poor, sick groundskeeper versus large agricultural company. Who would you predict would prevail?

Fortunately, Monsanto is appealing and we hope will prevail against these preposterous claims. You might also read Cameron English’s excellent analysis of this case here.

Wilton Continuing Ed promotes scams

Wilton Continuing Ed promotes scams

It’s always fun to look through the Wilton Continuing Ed catalog (Wilton, CT) and see if there might be some classes worth taking. The first entry is one that might be helpful for the gullible: Avoiding Scams. Of course you have to pay $15 for consumer information that should be free. Or $25 for non-residents.

  1. Well, right at the top of the list, about 4 entries down from the scam class is one on Digital Astrology. This is a double scam, because they are just going to teach where on the web you can find astrology information. No mention of the fact that astrology is a set of prescientific superstitions with no scientific backing whatever. Or as Phil Plait says in his Bad Astronomy column, “pure bunkum.”
  2. But there is more hooey, to come, starting with “Ancient Grains Meet Modern Palates,” a class on old grains from which most of our current useful grains were developed. But selling these grains is mainly a marketing technique (are you listening, Whole Foods?): they have no special nutritional value.
  3. The next scam is the Fire Cider Infusion Workshop. If you haven’t heard about Fire Cider, it is apple cider vinegar with garlic, horseradish, cayenne pepper and honey added. Apparently this is suppose to treat colds, but there is absolutely no evidence that it does anything at all. This workshops teaches you how to mix these ingredients and sends you home with a quart of spiced vinegar for $55. You can also buy some on Amazon for about $25, but again, there is no evidence it does anything. We wrote about the underlying apple cider vinegar scam a couple of years ago, It doesn’t work, either. And, if that isn’t enough, you can read “I used to be a Holistic Nutritionist.
  4. You can’t get through these sorts of catalogs without finding Benefits of Essential Oils, today’s most popular scam. We wrote about these oils in our old Examiner column:

The idea of essential oils simply means the extraction of scented components from plants, and has been criticized on Quackwatch as having no real value. These scented oils, which are not inexpensive, may make your house smell nice, and may even help you relax, but they are regulated by the FDA as cosmetics and have no established medical uses, for the most part.

All of these essential oils are made by doTerra, a multi-level marketing company (anyone can become a dealer) a company that has been severely criticized for both their claims and their marketing in Science Based Medicine. Specifically, they imply a number of health benefits for these oils, but do not offer any evidence nor cite any clinical studies. Prices for these oils range from $20 to over $90 for 15 ml!

  1. And, right under that is a class in Chakradance. Never heard of it? Well, apparently chakras are 7 “energy centers” within your body, and Chakradance is a “holistic, healing and well-being practice.” Apparently, you should “allow Chakradance, through its intimate guided meditation and varying vibrational tones of its carefully composed music, to provoke spontaneous movement, images, and healing as each of your energy chakras are rebalanced.” If you see all those pseudo-science buzzwords in a single sentence, your scam meter should already be pinned! It’s difficult to imagine anyone taking this hokum seriously.

 

If that’s not enough, the same instructor also teaches similar hokum under the label of Tai Chi.

  1. And, to round out the scam catalog, we can’t help but note they are offering a class in Mindfulness Medtation. “Mindfulness” is the buzzword of last year, and it is difficult to avoid. However, a look at the article in Science-Based Medicine suggests it has little scientific basis, and Newsweek suggested last year that Mindfulness is a meaningless word with shoddy science behind it. Bingo! The scam meter pins again!