Category: Nantucket

Via Mare: a new star at the Greydon House

Via Mare: a new star at the Greydon House

Nantucket definitely has a new star in Via Mare, the restaurant now occupying the elegant Greydon House hotel. (Hint: click on the Kitchen box to see the menu). And almost overnight, it is one of Nantucket’s best restaurants!

As we explained earlier, the former restaurant has been replaced by this elegant creation run by Chef Andrea (Dre’) Solimeo and Sarah Todd originally part of the team over at Ventuno. And, while the menu on line is fascinating and diverting, they make regular changes. That menu was from July 3, 2019, but there were several new ideas in last night’s menu.

tables

The menu is organized in Cichetti (bite size samples), Small Plates that you can share, but are still smaller portions, Pastas, which are quite substantial, and a few traditionally sized entrees, called “Livin’ Large.” The idea is that you might get 3 or more of the little and small plates, or fewer if you get pasta and even fewer if you get the larger entrees, which included chicken, tuna, beefsteak and a nightly special. You are going to be delighted whichever you choose, because the food is both imaginative and delicious.

hot chicken

We tried one of cicchetti, “Spicy fried chicken bite and Moroccan pancake. ($7)” This really was just one bite of chicken but it was spicy. The waitress said the chef called it her Nashville chicken after Nashville’s famous fried chicken and she could open a restaurant with that alone if she wanted: it was that delicious. The waiter asked if I wanted another one, (I really did) but knowing that there was lots more food coming, I respectfully declined.

Meanwhile, we also had their summer salad: “local melons, tomatoes, prosciutto and pickled shallot” ($14). This was quite a bit of salad and you could share it as we did. One picture shows it as presented, one after we opened it up.

whipped cod

Perhaps because I had my camera out, they also brought another cicchetti: “Whipped salt cod on crispy polenta” ($7), which was a nice surprise mixture of tastes, although you could serve anything you wanted on those terrific crispy polenta.

straticella

Our next planned small plate was “Hand pulled straciatella, olio verde and flakey salt” ($12). This is hand pulled mozzarella curds, cut and rested in cream. Olio Verde is  a premium olive oil. This was really filling, and we couldn’t really eat all of it knowing that there was still a pasta course.

 

aubergine

And, to make things more exciting they send out an experimental vegetable dish: roast aubergine (eggplant) in cashew cream with tomatoes and little dots of dressing,

Our pasta dishes were spectacular.  Mine was rigatoni with lamb sausage, broccoli, and pecorino di fossa ($23) and my wife’s was Spicy spaghetti alla chitarra, seafood ragu, passata, basil and breadcrumbs ($24). My rigatoni was rich in flavors from the pecorino and the lamb. The spaghetti was even richer than the rigatoni, and with bits of seafood in the sauce it really sparkled with flavor.

meringue

Finally, we split one of their three desserts, called “Fake Alaska.” It’s made of chocolate almond torta, Morello cherry sorbet, wild bay meringue and pistachio butter cream ($13). (We have no idea what constitutes a “wild bay meringue,” and all the meringues we have seen have been at rest.)

This was a simply spectacular meal and with 3 glasses of wine was still only $146, so it may have been one of the island’s great gourmet bargains as well. We can’t praise this new restaurant too highly. Everything from the food to the service to the décor were outstanding. Our repeated compliments to the chef!

 

 

Dune: always an imaginative Nantucket restaurant

Dune: always an imaginative Nantucket restaurant

Dune, a creation of chef Michael Getter has been around for ten years now and we realized we hadn’t visited it in a couple of years. All we can say is that it keeps getting better: more imaginative and with more interesting flavor combinations.

The restaurant on Broad St is next to several others, but you really need to go to Dune at least yearly to take in Getter’s clever and fascinating menus. The restaurant is not large: one floor of an old house and includes a popular bar area where they create unique cocktails. But the food is the star here so let’s get right to it.

The evening started with fresh, warm bread served with butter sparking with pink sea salt.

And the night we went Tuna Tartare was a welcome menu addition: fresh tuna chunks molded with cucumbers, avocado, raw green beans and a few peapods. Served over a slightly spicy lemon grass broth, it was an amazing winner!

tuna tartar

Our other appetizer was a simply gorgeous beet salad, with several types of beets, some sliced thinly to show their bullseye pattern and some in chunks, served over whipped goat cheese, beet vinaigrette, pistachios and balsamic vinegar.

beet salad

For me the outstanding dish was the halibut with Thai coconut-lemongrass broth, purple creamers, bok choy, snap peas, broccolini, shitake, and basil. It was moist, delicate and flakey unlike almost any halibut I’ve ever been served.

halibut

Finally, our other entrée was a Grilled Heritage Pork Chop with lemongrass + pineapple fried rice, shanghai sausage, herbs, grilled green beans, and sweet and sour sauce.

pork chop

The flavors were very nice but the chop was a bit overcooked and tough. Pork really needs to be serve still somewhat pink so it doesn’t get so chewy. Some customer may be taken aback at first, but the USDA recommended cooking temperature is now 145˚ and really anything over 138˚ is perfectly safe.

Our dessert was dubbed a Pot du Crème with peanut and chocolate crumble and vanilla whipped cream. But really this was chocolate pudding just like my mother used to make. Only she used walnuts. What a great comfort food for dessert!

pudding

We are so glad we went to Dune again this year and you should go there, too!

 

We again visit Millie’s

We again visit Millie’s

Millie’s remains one of our favorite family restaurants on Nantucket. Their friendly service and excellent food draw us back every time we come to the island. It is always our first stop, because we can walk their from our house. But their menu of (mostly seafood) tacos, po’ boys and quesadillas is always a creative delight.

This year, we started with their sweet corn and clam chowder ($10), warm and filling on a cool late summer evening.

chowder

One of our entrees was new to us, Coatue: Fried oysters on a brioche bun ($21) with red cabbage slaw and tartar sauce. It was very good, but we have to admit we miss their Millie’s Bridge fried clam roll which easily had the best fried  clams on the island.

oyster po boy

Our other entrée was Esther Island (22): seared scallops in flour tortillas with creamy red cabbage slaw, guacamole, blue cheese, crispy smoked bacon. This was beautifully constructed but a bit too scallop for  a taco.

scallop tacos

And, of course, we always go for the Cisco Whale’s Tail beer on tap while we’re there.

beer

Millie’s remains a delight that we’ll go back to again and again.

New restaurant moves into Greydon House

New restaurant moves into Greydon House

When the Greydon House hotel opened in Nantucket in 2016, it was lacking a restaurant, but one opened in the late fall, headed by Chef Marcus Ware. And as people began to visit it, they were extremely impressed.

We first visited in August of 2017 and praised it highly. In fact, we called the food and service “extraordinary,”

However, this didn’t last, and by 2017, it was apparent that Ware wasn’t paying much attention to this island outpost among his many restaurants. We felt it had “slipped of its pedestal.” Similar dishes were prepared in much more slapdash fashion, and service was not what it had been.

Apparently, the management of Greydon House agreed, and replaced Ware and his restaurant with Via Mare, a new Italian small plates restaurant run by Chef Dre’ Solimeo and Sarah Todd from Ventuno, whom we have always praised highly.

Via Mare’s menu Is creative (and somewhat folksy in its descriptions: “taters” for example)  but the overall we have of the menu is “we can’t wait to eat there.”

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Here is their description of their farfalle:

Butterfly pasta, spring vegetables, parmigiano crema, prosciutto, black truffles.

Or how about their small plate black bass:

Black bass crudo white asparagus, pickled ramps & sorrel

They also have a couple of large options such as this delicious-sound steak:

Bistecca: Porcini & parmigiano crusted steak, black garlic aoli — black summer truffle

Welcome, Via Mare! We can hardly wait!

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Via Mare is open Tuesday through Sunday 5:30pm until 10pm. The bar is open until 1am. Photos provided by Via Mare.

The Chanticleer

The Chanticleer

 

The Chanticleer is an elegant restaurant in ‘Sconset, that has been home to fine dining for many years. A few years back, a new chef/owner (Jeff Worster) took over, and when we first visited, we felt that it was still a work in progress. Now, however, this is a lovely restaurant with fine food, service and décor. You still enter through a lovely garden and it still has a decorative hobby horse on display in the garden.

Inside, the décor has been upgraded a bit, with the lovely wall sconces you can see in the photo of the main dining room. While the back dining room was once a sort of conservatory with plants and ivy everywhere, it is now much more like the main dining room and more roomy as well.

decor

The service is excellent from the time you are seated until you leave. The dinner menu, of course, changes a bit from time to time, but the menu they currently have posted is pretty similar to the one we were served from a week or so ago.

The service began with warm rolls and an actual crock of butter that was delivered automatically, instead of the annoying olive oil other restaurants foist upon you. And, take a look at the elegant dish of salt, pepper, and (it turned out) Himalayan sea salt for seasonings.

For one appetizer, we ordered  “Smoked Rhode Island Bluefish Pâté with Hand Sliced Caribou Russet Potato Chips. Chips Seasoned with BBQ Salt and Green Onion.” Or, in non-menuese, homemade potato chips and smoke bluefish pâté. This had a very rich, sophisticated flavor and was extremely filling. We had to save room for the main course, or we would have devoured all of it.  Thank goodness these were “caribou” chips and not “buffalo” chips!

For our other appetizer, we ordered “Beet Salad on Orange Fennel Hummus – Nicoise Olive, Roasted Salted Pistachio, Sheep’s Milk Feta, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Hydroponic Mache,” an imaginative variation on the common island beet salad, with the addition of feta cheese and served on hummus. A light, but elegant salad we really recommend.

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For one of our entrees we ordered their version of swordfish: “Anson Mills Corn crusted Center Cut North Atlantic Swordfish, on a Charred Andouille and Okra Risotto, Gumbos spices Tomato Sauce and Cauliflower.” Swordfish can be a risky bet at some restaurants, because It can be overcooked or oily. But to our delight this swordfish was perfect: one of the best preparations we’ve had, and the surprising okra in the risotto was a delightful touch.

la`b

Our other entrée was “Bolognese of New Zealand Lamb & Lamb Sausage – Slowly Simmered with San Marzano Tomatoes and Fines Herbs. Tossed with Today’s Fresh Pasta, Asiago Cheese.” To our surprise, this Bolognese included a curry flavor among the spices, but it was very well executed.

Finally, we each ordered a dessert. One was the “Coconut Lemongrass Cheesecake Pie” with caramelized Pineapple sauce, Chantilly Cream and Toasted Coconut. It was smooth, light and deeply flavorful. Our other dessert was called “Petite Salted Caramel Brownie Parfait” with Malted chocolate gelato, Begium chocolate mousse, chocolate crunch, cherry sauce and an Amarena Cherry. While it was good, it was in many ways a “typical restaurant chocolate dessert.”

Overall, this was a delightful evening with delicious and imaginative food and excellent service. Kudos to Chef Worster for this lovely dinner.

B-ACK yard Barbecue

B-ACK yard Barbecue

We haven’t  been back to this great barbecue spot on Straight Wharf since they opened in 2014, and we’re glad we did. The food is much better and the menu a bit bigger: they added  Burnt Ends. The service is extremely good as well, as our waiter checked with us at least 4-5 times during our meal.

To some extent, large groups will have more choices, because you can order a platter of each of their specialties and shared around the table.  For two people, there are two options: the  Selfie Special, which gives you two meats and two side dishes and warm rolls for $28. The other option is to just order a half a pound of a couple of the meats and get one or two sides as you wish.

The main barbecue meat choices on the menu are

  • Smoked kielbasa
  • Pulled pork
  • Pork ribs (half or full rack)
  • Half roast chicken
  • Chopped brisket
  • Sliced brisket
  • Beef burnt ends

The side dishes include baked beans, coleslaw, mac and cheese, grilled asparagus, Corn bread, potato salad, French fries, pickled vegetables, and stewed greens. You can also get sandwiches of any of these meats.

ribs

We decided on a half rack of pork ribs, a half pound of burnt ends and coleslaw. We probably should have rounded this out with fries or cornbread, but there was plenty of food there just as it was.

burnt ends

Our beers came nearly instantly, and the meats maybe 5-6 minutes later. There are 4 sauces on the table, Sweet, Golden (mustard like), hot and vinegar (to simulate North Carolina style). All were good, and even the “hot” sauce was not really all that hot.

crowdThe informal atmosphere includes several large screen TVs showing whatever sport is playing at the time,  but the crowd is relatively calm and families will feel welcome here.

Sometimes the most unassuming places will end up being some of the best on the island, and that is certainly true here. The pork and beef were tender and juicy and perfectly cooked. What more can you ask? Our bill with 3 beers and tax, but before tip was only $78. A delicious bargain!

Cru Oyster Bar: still raucous

Cru Oyster Bar: still raucous

“They all come here just for the mood,

And if you don’t believe me try tasting our food!”

–Jerry Bock- Lyrics to “A Romantic Atmosphere” in “She Loves Me”

tableWe went back last night to Cru Oyster Bar, the restaurant at the end of Straight Wharf that replaced The Rope Walk about 7 years ago. As before, we were seated at a nice window table in the main dining room. And as before, the music was very loud, and the noise from adjacent tables and the loud bar crowd made conversation impossible. And, as before, we asked to be moved to the middle room. Fortunately, it was still early and they were quite accommodating about moving us. The sound level in the middle room was much less oppressive and we even were able to chat with a nice young couple at the next table.

breadThey soon brought us bread, and with a little prodding, some actual butter. Since we dislike olive oil dribbling on our shirt, we usually ask for butter. It came in a nice little crock, with a little sea salt sprinkled on it. But, the bread was really tough. Not crunchy crust tough: stale bread tough. Very difficult to eat, but you could use the butter to soften it a little.

The menu was similar to that on their website,  but they had added a Chilled Cucumber Soup with crab meat, that we both ordered. (Their sometime Fried Clams shareable item wasn’t on the menu that night.) The cucumber soup arrived quickly, and it did indeed come with ample crabmeat as well.

cucumber soup

However the soup was very salty. And this comes from someone who loves salt bagels. The soup was inedibly salty. We sent it back and they  removed it from out bill. How could such inedible soup (and bread) ever come out of the kitchen? Doesn’t anyone ever taste anything? It’s part of the job, you know.

lobster roll

Soon, they brought us our Lobster Rolls ($38) served with fries, and they were impressive looking. The fries were acceptable, but most probably frozen.  As we picked through our lobster roll, we found a number of flat slippery, rubbery pieces that we decided must have come from the fins at the base of the tail. These are hard to get out, and most people don’t bother, since they don’t have much flavor. We suspect that they bought them in bulk to extend the amount of actual lobster they had to use. There were more of them than you’d find in a single lobster.

The other odd thing about this lobster roll was the eerie sheen of the meat and the top of the roll. While the menu only specified Lobster, butter and brioche roll, the top and much of the interior had a thick sort of buttery sauce. We suspect they may have added surimi, a fish paste made from whiting or pollock that is often used in fake crab meat. The lobster was real, but the weird gelatinous buttery filling is likely partly surimi. The overall effect was OK, but it wasn’t lobster and it wasn’t butter.

We got to Cru around 6:00 pm, because later reservations weren’t available. Thank goodness we came early. When we left around 7:30, the outer room was packed and really noisy. In fact we could barely squeeze through to get to the door. So, despite our strong reservations, people really come to this place in droves. They are probably mostly young people, and as a social experience, this is probably a lot of fun. But while the view of the harbor is really nice, the food really isn’t.

 

Ventuno: refreshing and delicious

Ventuno: refreshing and delicious

Ventuno has been at 21 Federal for about seven years now, and has been a very good restaurant since its inception. However, it is an absolute delight to walk into a familiar restaurant and find fascinating new dishes on the menu. Not just variations on the old Italian theme, but truly creative dishes you probably never had before.

This is the case with this year’s Ventuno menu, which has undergone a significant upgrade. We were particularly struck by Faggiano e Funghi:   hand-cut egg pappardelle, braised wild pheasant & mushroom sugo, parmigiano & savory breadcrumbs. Imagine pheasant and mushrooms on pasta in any other Italian style restaurant. And it was absolutely delicious! It is available in appetizer and full entrée sized portions ($19 and $36). The textures of the pappardelle (noodles) and the thin slices of parmesan cheese, intermingled with pieces of pheasant along with a delicious mushroom sauce were truly a marvelous experience. In fact, we both ordered it: one as an appetizer and one as a main course and both were thrilled with it.

small pheasant fungi

Just as interesting, if not original was their Insalata: sweet gem lettuces, soft herbs, torn bread croutons and house red wine vinaigrette ($15 ). It was a feast for the eyes as well as in its consumption. Or, to put it clearly: it was a great salad.

salad

Finally, our other entrée was Agnello: slow-cooked & grilled lamb coppa, heirloom polenta, broccoli rabe & minted ramp gremolata ($38). According to our waitress coppa is lamb shoulder, marinated for three days and then quickly grilled to medium rare. Just inside the crunchy exterior is delicious, juicy, pink lamb. This was an entirely new preparation we’d not seen before, and we loved every bite.

lamb

This year’s menu is slightly simpler, but it is still organized into Antipasti (seven items), Primi (4 appetizers), Secondi (six items), Un Morsi (3 side dishes), Un Morso per La Tovalo (six table sharing items) and Dolci (six desserts).

bombolonciniUnfortunately, we didn’t have room for a dessert, but you can choose from Bomboloncini (chocolate donuts and gelato and chocolate sauce), Pistachio tart, Panna cotta, Granita (watermelon and strawberry), ice creams, and Crostata:  stone fruit crostata & cisco lemon thyme ice cream. All great ways to end a meal at Ventuno.

If you haven’t visited recently, do come by and try their excellent new menu.

Le Languedoc: the Island’s best burger

Le Languedoc: the Island’s best burger

sign

Le Languedoc Has been for many years a popular, elegant restaurant on Broad St, and serves delicious high end meals in their white table cloth dining rooms. But, Le Languedoc  is also a Bistro and their menu includes some simple,  but excellent bistro food. Originally, the lower level Café served the bistro menu and the upstairs the fancier food. But some years ago, they decided to serve the same menu everywhere. Now, the only difference is that you can make reservations for the upstairs up to 30 days in advance, and you can reserve the lower floor café and the outdoor dining area the same day.

Cafe

With that in mind, we made a reservation for the Café yesterday and were seated at one of the lovely outdoor tables under a canopy, where we could order from any part of the menu we wanted. We settled on the excellent cheeseburger and fries (19.75). While the default is Garlic Fries, you can order the non-garlic version as well.

half saladWe also ordered the Chopped Salad ($16.50), but from previous experience we knew that the salad was enormous, and asked the waitress to split the salad for us. She delivered it on two plates, and it was just the right amount.

 

 

The cheese burger comes partially assembled so you can put it together the way you like, and the conventional sauces are served separately for you to add as you wish. We asked that the burgers be prepared medium rare, and they were perfectly done. This cheeseburger is unquestionably the best one on Nantucket, and is little more expensive than any other we’ve tried.

You can get lots of other fine meals at Le Languedoc, including Steak Frites, Cod, Lobster, Roast Chicken, Shrimp and Boudin Blanc, but if you are looking for the best cheeseburger, you definitely want to come to Le Languedoc. We were joking with the waitress that the burger was really a bit big for us, but I noted that for younger guys, it would be just right. She replied that those 25-year olds would probably eat two!

For comparison, we present some of the other burgers you can get on the island. They are mostly pretty good, but not in the league with this one. Listed in approximate order of quality, best to worst.

Lola burger $13.75            Brotherhood burger $16

Rose and Crown $16.99           Charlie Noble:  All American Burger, $17

Lola Burger, near the Sparks Ave Rotary, provides tasty, but sloppy to eat burgers in rough hewn tables, reminiscent of a company picnic, where parking is difficult unless their valet is on duty.

The Brotherhood of Thieves is ideal for families with children, but their burgers are dry and nowhere near as tasty.

The Rose and Crown is not really a family place: it tends to be sports bar rowdy. At our last visit, we found the burgers dry and tasteless and the fries not much better.

The Charlie Noble isn’t sure where it is a family place or a sports bar. One night it was very quiet, and the next night, everyone was loudly cheering the US Open. And burgers with bright yellow American cheese are not our favorite.

Stick with Le Languedoc.

 

 

 

The Sea Grille: always a delight

The Sea Grille: always a delight

 

facadeThe Sea Grille has been a mid-island gem for 26 years. Founded by EJ and (the late) Robin Harvey, the Sea Grille has been an island favorite for both visitors and islanders. The menu is a clever synthesis of the simple and the wonderful Island Favorites, appealing both to families, children and adventurous diners. CIA graduate Tucker Harvey has joined the staff as chef de cuisine, continuing the family legacy.

We visited the Sea Grille last night for our annual pilgrimage for fine seafood. The hostess and waiters are always gracious and helpful and we were quickly seated. We both started out with EJ Harvey’s famous Quahog Chowder ($9).

chowder

This is a meaty, thick chowder full of clams and potatoes. It also is really filling, and you might ask if cup sized portions are available. Nonetheless, it is one of the Island’s best chowders, having earned many awards over the years.

linguica cod

Our first entrée was Linguica Crusted Cod ($38) with Lobster Mashed Potatoes, carrots and leeks . This dish was hugely successful, not only because of the rich, buttery sauce over the cod. But the big surprise was that their “lobster mashed potatoes” was smooth, creamy mashed potatoes served over several amply pieces of lobster. Probably 2 or 3 claws worth of meat. And under those lees and carrots  was indeed some chopped linguica (sausage) enhancing the cod’s flavor. All in all this surprising dish was simply terrific.

shrimp

Our other entrée was Baked Stuffed Shrimp ($30), where the stuffing in the baking dish is crab meat, served with lobster sauce, mashed potatoes, beans and cauliflower. The shrimp were tender and flavorful, enhanced by the copious crab meat, and the mashed potatoes excellent. This was simply a perfect dish in every way.

We finished by splitting a chocolate and caramel brownie sundae ($12) and didn’t leave a bite behind.

brownie sundae

The Sea Grille is always one of our favorites, because they do everything so well: we are always delighted with our visits.