Tag: Family restaurants

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!

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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.

 

 

 

Queequeeg’s: a great family restaurant

Queequeeg’s: a great family restaurant

Queequeeg’s is a lovely little restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating facing Souter Water Street (it’s actually a few feet up Oak St and facing the Rose and Crown). It is also adjacent to the Town restaurant which has the same ownership.

The menu at Queequeeg’s could be called Nantucket American, with six appetizers and seven entrees on the menu, although they add three or four specials every day. Indoor seating is probably around 30 or so, but in good weather, the outdoor tables are delightful as well.

We found the staff very helpful and friendly and the food really extremely good for relatively small restaurant. We would hazard a guess that every entrée is as good as the ones we had yesterday. For appetizers, we had a choice of mussels, beet salad, clam chowder, Caesar salad (We saw this one and it looked great), tuna tartare and a crab cake.

crab cakeWe both started with the Crab Cake ($17), with romesco and summer pepperonata. All in all the crab cakes had a nice spicy flavor, with both the romesco sauce and the peppers adding nice notes. We only wish the crab to bread crumb ratio had leaned to a bit more crab.

 

bolognese

But this was more than redeemed by a spectacular Bolognese ($26) containing pork, beef, veal and pancetta crumble, served with pappardelle, garnished with thin slices of really flavorful ricotta salata. You might dismiss this as just more “spaghetti and sauce,” but this Bolognese was truly superior. Every bite was a delight, with flavors from the meats, the pancetta, the pasta and the sauce. It was one of best we’ve ever had!

scampi

All this is not to diminish the qualities of the equally delicious Shrimp Scampi ($29), served with linguini, confit tomato, arugula and white wine. Again, the mixture of flavors of the tomato, the shrimp, the garlic and the linguini were simply top notch. Again a really good job elevating a common dish to fine cuisine!

We ended splitting a dessert dubbed Chocolate Caramel Parfait, but which seemed to us more like avery good chocolate mousse.  At any rate, it was an excellent finish to the meal.

Queequeeg’s is open every day but Sunday for brunch and dinner, and you will find it an absolute delight.

night view

 

 

Sophie T’s Pizza: our Nantucket favorite

Sophie T’s Pizza: our Nantucket favorite

Sophie T’s is a small mid island restaurant which has about 12 tables and does a huge takeout business as well. Of the three major pizza places on the island, this one is our favorite. But it is nearly 7 miles from our  Madaket house to Sophie T’s, and while we can certainly keep a pizza warm using our heated seats, it won’t be as bubbling hot as you get when they deliver it to your table.

So we split a large pizza and a bottle of wine whenever we go there. The pizzas are plentifully loaded with cheese and tomato sauce and whatever toppings you ask for.

wingsTheir menu includes wings, garlic bread, soup, and several salads and subs as well as their delicious pizzas. This year we tried their Buffalo wings with bleu cheese ($8.95). They were piping hot and had lots of flavor, but were not it seems, deep fried as we expected so they didn’t have that dry crust you expect. Nonetheless, we liked them a lot.

We ordered a large pizza (shown above), half onions, peppers and mushrooms, and half sausage and onion, and even after eating quite a bit, we still had some to take home for lunch.

Sophie T’s is at 7 Dave’s St, which runs one way from Orange to Pleasant, and more or less across from Stop and Shop.  If you are on Pleasant, you can either go around the rotaries and out to Pleasant and back to Dave’s or you can turn into Bayberry Court and wind your way around to Sophie T’s. If your are on Pleasant, turn into Dave’s and turn right into the lot. There is plenty of parking.

facade

There are two other major pizza places on Nantucket. One, not far from Sophie’s is Pi Pizzeria on West Creek. It is brick oven style pizza, and while quite good just isn’t as good as Sophie’s. The other, Oath Pizza is on Straight Wharf, near the Hy-line Ferry, and once claimed 90 second cooking times. Unfortunately, this is really for the walk-in trade, since parking near there is pretty nearly impossible.

Thank goodness Sophie T’s is so good!

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.

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