The Club Car, right on the way to Straight Wharf has been a popular dining destination since Joe Pantorno and Chef Michael Shannon opened it in 1977. It was a white tablecloth restaurant with tuxedoed waiters and well-regarded food and service. After Shannon retired, sous-chef Tom Proch took over, continuing treasured dishes like Shannon’s Shrimp Scampi and Beef Wellington, but in recent years, especially after Proch retired, the restaurant’s service had become tired and the food repetitive, but much less impressive, while maintaining their high prices, where a number of entrees were over $40.
So it is with some excitement that we learned that Pantorno sold the Club Car to a new team: head Chef Mayumi Hattori (formerly the chef at Straight Wharf) Ty Costa, director of operations, and general manager Tanya McDonough. In addition, the interior had been completely redesigned by Tharon Anderson with a lighter and brighter and less formal look (and apparently no white tablecloths).
Hattori, who is of Japanese and Spanish descent, wanted to include some of her home cooking and has overhauled the menu, doing away with the formal dining experience, and replaced it with 6 tapas ($5-$9), 4 toasts ($9-$15), 12 small vegetable plates ($12-$17), 7 Land and Sea plates ($18-$31) and for and for people who want a traditional main course, there is limited availability of 3 larger plates: roast chicken ($39), lamb sirloin ($45) and grilled sirloin for a jaw dropping $65.
We decided to forgo the large plates and play the game the way they wanted us to, ordering toasts, veggies and small plates from Land and Sea. Note that The Club Car does not provide bread, so you are left with your water and wine until the first plate your ordered arrives. The Toasts are probably some of the quicker things you can order and we started with them.
We started with the House Cured Sardine Toast ($10) with basque peppers, capers and olive oil. It was served on a baguette toast, and was interesting but only about 4-5 bites and it was gone. The Roasted Mushrooms Toast ($15)with crème fraiche and at least 3 types of mushrooms was a much larger portion and truly delicious, with plenty to share. This was probably the dish we liked the best: reminiscent of a mushroom stroganoff with better mushrooms.
For an intermediate plate, we settled on the Roasted Summer Squashes ($17) with corn, cherry tomatoes cilantro and lime. This was a huge portion that you could share with two or three people, and while there was a lot of it, it wasn’t really particularly filling. We suspect that may be the case with any of the Garden plates.
Finally from Land and Sea, we ordered Spice Crusted Skate($26) with long slices of cucumber ribbons and walnut tarator (sauce). There were two slice of skate and this was fairly spicy rather like the old Cajun blackened fish, except not black. It was very good, but there wasn’t much of it. We suggested they call it “Skating on Thin Cucumbers.”
Finally our other Land-Sea dish was called King Oyster Mushrooms ($24), with peeky toe crab, Bartlett’s corn and jamon (ham) broth. This was really an excellent dish, but needed a bit more crab in it.
Overall, this was a pleasant meal with very friendly and helpful servers. Our bill, with 3 glasses of wine and tax was only $143, making the Club Car a much more reasonable choice than it used to be. Our server said that despite the major change in style, they had had a very active summer and done quite well. We liked everything they served, but there was only one available dessert, so we walked down the wharf to Jack and Charlie’s Ice Cream instead.
This is the last of our 2017 Nantucket restaurant reviews, but it is not too late to order Nantucket T-shirts from The Nantucket Store, and if you use the discount code MILLIE17, you can get about a 15% discount through the end of September.