Category: Nantucket

American Seasons: very disappointing

American Seasons: very disappointing

American Seasons has been helmed by chef/owner Neil Ferguson since 2015 and they had been doing quite well. But last night was simply an embarrassment. Maybe Ferguson was away and maybe the B team was in the kitchen, but we came away really disappointed and downright annoyed.

menu

The diminutive menu was delivered on one side of a single 8 ½ x 11” sheet, somewhat rumpled and stained. It has only 7 entrees and 7 appetizers, and last night it was hard to pick one we really wanted to have: none of them sounded very good. And they weren’t.

To be fair, the hot dinner rolls they served with butter were very good and one of the appetizers was quite good, but it went downhill from there.

parfait

That really good appetizer was the Chicken Liver Foie Gras Parfait with House Made Vegetable Pickles, and Toasted Brioche ($19). In Paté speak, a parfait is a smoothly ground mixture of meats. And it succeeded: it was silky smooth and delicious. We probably could have used more brioche to finish it off, but we held back to save room for our entrée. Bad decision.

beet salad

The other appetizer was a fairly ordinary beet salad ($18). Nothing special about it.

fluke

But my entrée, the Pan Roasted Local Fluke Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Capers, and Island Grown Salad ($45) was a horror. It was smothered in capers, the vinaigrette was very sour, and the fluke was tough and dry. We left it unfinished.

chicken

And the other entrée, Crisp Skinned Giannone Chicken ($39) with Fondant Potato, Carrot Purée, Honey Roast Carrot, and Sherry Vinegar Jus, was tough and dry. All of the chicken was chicken breast and it was just overcooked. Now the Giannone chicken procedure involves brining the chicken overnight and then air drying it to produce tender meat and crisp skin. Neither was in evidence.

We’ve written about American Seasons here, here, and here, and in all cases the result was better than this disappointing evening. It doesn’t seem that the kitchen was trying very hard especially considering the prices. Our bill with 3 glasses of wine, including tax was $186.18.

 

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The Sea Grille is always excellent

The Sea Grille is always excellent

The Sea Grille on Sparks Ave, just next to the Shell Station has an unprepossessing exterior, but serves some of the island’s finest seafood in a friendly, family-style setting. The menu includes simply prepared seafood, broiled, fried or grilled as well as appetizers, soups, salads and Island Favorites, and more elaborate Creative Coastal items. The soups include E J Harvey’s famous Island Quahog Chowder.

bisque2

For dinner last night we had their Lobster Bisque, dilled in Puff Pastry ($13). This was a delicious bisque with the puff pastry floating on it, and with a number of tender lobster chunks included. Utterly delicious, and there is a lot of it.

salad

Our other appetizer was a special salad ($18) which seemed to consist of red lettuce, mini greens, tomatoes, croutons, thinly sliced radishes and goat cheese. Again excellent!

fried clams

If you want to have fried clams on Nantucket, this is the place to go. In fact, there aren’t many restaurants that do offer them, and you should be pleased to learn that the Sea Grille’s fried clams ($28) have been voted the best on the island. Worthy of the ones you get in Ipswich!  And the fries are freshly made from actual potatoes. One way you can tell is that the ends of each fry have a bit of actual peel still included. And they were also piping hot!

Finally, we ordered their Free Form Ravioli ($36),  (above) a creative dish with the handmade ravioli noodle on top of lobster, shrimp, scallops, ricotta, mushrooms, garlic and roasted tomatoes, and topped with crispy carrots. You will find this one amazing as we did.

The Sea Grille is beloved by both locals and tourists and you will love it too! The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and the prices reasonable. You can’t go wrong.

 

The Brotherhood of Thieves- still great

The Brotherhood of Thieves- still great

The Brotherhood of Thieves has been a fixture in Nantucket since 1972, with several renovations to improve its interior and add and improve the patio dining. The menu is mostly  burgers and sandwiches, but they do have some specialty items and additions daily.

Last night we went for dinner and I ordered their basic Brotherhood Burger.

burger

The burger was tender and juicy and perfectly prepared. And unlike the bizarre fall-apart Lola Burger, it stayed in its bun and had a really excellent flavor. By contrast, the competing burger was pretty tasteless.  The curly fried were  hot and had a good potato flavor, although they were clearly cooked from frozen.

wings

I also had a sampling of their Buffalo Wings (6 for $14) and found them well cooked, but a lot spicier than the ones I am used to. If you are expecting spicy wings, you’ll be getting them.

reuben

Finally, my companion had the Smokehouse Reuben (Slow-smoked corned beef, Gruyere cheese, sauerkraut, Thousand Island, and marble rye bread) for $19. There was certainly a lot of corned beef there and we were able to take half home for lunch. Beautifully prepared.

The Brotherhood has a nice little wine by the glass list and a goodly list of local and regional beers.

Again, the Brotherhood is one of those cases where the last formal restaurant ends up with some of the best food. You really can’t go wrong there.

table

Oran Mor Bistro

Oran Mor Bistro

Oran Mor has been fine temple of New American Cuisine for years and was taken over by chef/owner Ned Claflin three years ago. After a shake-down period the restaurant is humming along nicely with excellent service and quite a varied menu of interesting items.

rolls

The lovely restaurant on the second floor at 2 South Beach St seems airier than it used to, and the staff is unfailingly helpful and friendly. They now ask if you want bread (it’s free) and you should ask for it, because it is delicious. The waitress told us that they only make the Pretzel Bread on Mondays, and this is a shame because it looks as tastes like pretzel, but is as tender as any dinner roll. The other bread was rosemary focaccia, which was also very good. Both were served warm.

octopus

 

I took a risk and order an interesting but odd appetizer called Spanish Octopus and Pork Belly ($18). This was what my wife would call a “novel idea.” They were served with Putanesca sauce, Niçoise olives, fried capers, white anchovies and Mizuna (Japanese mustard greens). The pork belly was nice and tender but there was so much octopus on the plate that we couldn’t finish it. It was an interesting idea, but I don’t think it worked that well.

gemelle

On other hand, my wife ordered an appetizer sized portion of Lobster Gemelle with chanterelles, corn, leeks, lobster, cream and tarragon ($19). This was elegant and delicious with quite a bit of lobster and quite a bit of pasta for a half-portion. Actually, she found it too much for an appetizer, but you may love how generous this dish is. The flavor is rich, and with umami flavor of the chanterelles quite stunning.

duck

For my main entrée, I ordered Long Island Duck Breast ($34) with honey glaze, warm duck confit and potato hash, spring onion, peach and Calabrian pepper salsa. This was a great success, with the duck and peach interacting with the terrific potato hash. Top notch.

roast chicken

My wife’s entrée was a Smoked Half Chicken ($34), Pickle Brined with pimento cheese grits, braised greens and white barbecue sauce. This was tender and juicy and not the least dried out as roast chickens often can be. The pimento cheese grits (which the waitress identified as polenta [close!]) were a little overpowering, but overall this is a really excellent dish.

Oran Mor has again come into its own and you should give it a try. As far as we can tell, there is no handicapped access to this second floor restaurant, but they may have a way if you ask in advance.

 

Galley Beach: utterly top-notch

Galley Beach: utterly top-notch

Galley Beach remains one of Nantucket’s top restaurants in service, atmosphere, and especially in food. Under creative chef W. Scott Ossif, the food is not only gorgeous to the eye, but it tastes that good, too. You just about can’t go wrong here: the food is that marvelous.

The restaurant is perched right along the beach, with the outer dining room covered, but with side curtains open to the air if it is warm. The windows face the sunset and you can watch that lovely sunset almost any night.  

Starting with the Oyster Stew offered last night (shown above), the dish is simply a dazzling presentation, not some dull gray bowl of seafood and cream. And incidentally, it had 6 creamy, tender, whole oysters in it, not just a few pieces chopped up. And notice the thin sliced radishes, parsley and bits of red onion on top along with droplets of flavored oil! This is certainly best oyster stew we’ve ever had!

caesar

Meanwhile, our other appetizer was an elegant Caesar salad with fresh little white anchovies topping the toasted crouton bread. It was an outstanding presentation.

tuna

One of our entrees was also a menu addition, a medium rare tuna steak on wild mushrooms and little ends of summer squash and served with a sweetish peanutty sauce. It was both moist and tender throughout and perfectly prepared.

filet

Finally, our other entrée was Filet Mignon with tomatoes, cipollini onion. fingerling potatoes. And tomato vinaigrette. It was as you can see a beautiful creation, and the meat was moist and tender.

brownie

For dessert, we shared a warm brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and surrounded with salted caramel sauce and topped with a thin cookie. A perfect end to a fantastic meal.

Galley Beach is one of the islands most outstanding restaurants, and we can’t recommend it highly enough. Note that there is a $15 valet parking fee you pay in advance when you hand over your car.

 

 

The Proprietors: a breath of fresh air

The Proprietors: a breath of fresh air

If you’ve been eating at a number of Nantucket restaurants, you soon discover that their menus have an essential sameness and that is why you want to have a meal at The Proprietors.  The menu is made up of clever small plates of things you aren’t likely to find anywhere else: like Pig Ears, Bluefish Pate Focaccia, Chickpea Socca pancake with eggplant, and seared Halloumi cheese. And all of them are delicious. They also have Michale LaScola’s fabulous charcuterie platter.

Most of the plates are small, although they become more substantial as you go down the menu, and the last five or six are full entrée portions. They suggest two orders per person, and you can all share, of course.

One addition to the menu the night we were there was Crab Puffs ($19.50), more or les a crab salad spread on puff pastry. We were glad to be able to share that one.

Our other starter was the Pig Ear Fries ($19.50) with Cholula (shown above), lime and micro cilantro. If you aren’t familiar with it, Cholula is a well-known Mexican hot sauce that spiced up the pig ears. Fortunately, there was a jug of cold water on the table. No one could call this a small serving of pig ears, but in any case we couldn’t finish them all, delicious though they were.

trout

One of us ordered the large Chicken Fried Trout with Green Goddess, bacon vin and lemon confit ($22.50). You don’t get delicious crunch trout very often, but this is an exceptional dish.

rigatoni

The other entrée was Cavatelli with smoked corn, ricotta cream, chili and tomato sugo ($22). This was quite tasty, but we wish the cavatelli had been cooked just a bit more.

dessert

We weren’t entirely sure what we’d be getting when we split a dessert called Banana Bread Toast. (The diners at the next table had become very loud at that point.) It seemed to be chocolate banana bread, topped with chocolate ice cream and decorated with sweetened popcorn ($15). But it was a delightful surprise and a bit lighter than I’d feared. But I still miss the Flying Elvis!

You are sure to have a fine time at The Proprietors. There are so many items to choose from. We certainly welcomed its variety, and will be returning every year.

 

 

Or, the Whale: a Nantucket bistro

Or, the Whale: a Nantucket bistro

The new restaurant or, The Whale opened this summer at 38 Main St, the site of the late, unlamented Met on Main. The new restaurant is bright and airy and nicely decorated, and the staff are unfailingly pleasant and helpful. The morning menu is labeled “brunch” and has both breakfast and lunch options intermingled. But there are the usual pancakes, eggs and omelets.

The name of the restaurant is the subtitle of Melville’s Moby Dick.

They are still getting into the swing of things: with inexperienced end of season staff not knowing which plate goes to which diner.  We were seated in the front bay window which seemed very nice until we realized the table and chairs they put there made it really difficult to squeeze into the table, and there was little place for purses or bags.

pancakes

But they brought coffee and tea promptly. We ordered pancakes ($11) and bacon ($5) because the only sausage on the menu was chorizo and while that might go Ok with eggs, we couldn’t see having it with pancakes. However, let us note that the pancakes were huge and delicious and once we got the syrup I tucked right into them, and could not finish these large, oval pancakes. But they were very good.

omelet

The omelet of the day ($14) had peppers, spinach and onion and was rather too dry and flavorless because it was overcooked. This was also true of the potatoes.

This is their first season and we really need to be understanding, as getting experienced help and opening a new restaurant is a huge undertaking. We wish them well as they gain more experience.

tables

 

Lola Burger

Lola Burger

Lola Burger Is located at the Sparks Avenue Rotary and they provide valet parking at busy times.

Speaking of busy times. try to figure out how to eat this 2 patty monster without it collapsing all over your hands and lap. Knives and forks for sure!  Or just order 2 single patty versions for a better grip.

56 Union: Island charm and great food

56 Union: Island charm and great food

It’s been too long since we visited 56 Union and we are so glad we did. This lovely little restaurant, only a few blocks from downtown serves excellent food to enthusiastic diners every night. Peter (chef) and Wendy (sommelier) Jannelle put together an eclectic menu of global cuisine in a friendly, informal atmosphere.

You probably need reservations most of the year, since it is a popular spot. While it wasn’t all that busy at 6:15 when we could get a table, it definitely was quite busy by the time we left.

chicken dumplings

We each started with their delicious Chicken Dim Sum ($14): steamed Chinese chicken dumplings, served with a soy mirin glaze. They were easily manipulated with the chopsticks they provide, giving you the confidence that you still know how to use them. And the dumplings were moist, tender and flavorful!

lobster roll

For one entrée, we had their Maine lobster roll ($34), on a toasted brioche roll, celery, red onion, bell pepper, light pernod scented mayonnaise, slaw, and pickle, served with a robust pile of delicious pomme frites. How could you go wrong? (Maine lobster rolls contain cold lobster salad. Connecticut lobster rolls are warm and served with only melted butter.)

veal chop

And, our other entrée was a delicious tender veal chop ($46), cooked medium rare, with rosemary, bacon roasted fingerlings, broccolini, wild mushrooms, artichokes and parmesan demi glace. Veal chops seem to be getting harder to find and it is delightful that they serve such a perfect, juicy chop.

We are glad to recommend 56 Union for any meal or occasion. The service is friendly and attentive and the food is uniformly excellent.

tables