Category Archives: Food

Nantucket Prime – A New Steakhouse at the Jared Coffin House by Josh Gray

In the realm of fine cuisine on small resort islands, Nantucket is known to do pretty well for itself.

And as such, when a new eatery opens its doors on our small stretch of sand, residents and visitors expect a lot from new and seasoned restaurateurs alike. The owners and management of the steak house Nantucket Prime realize this and hope to bring a dining experience that patrons will appreciate and come to love. Situated inside the Jared Coffin House on upper Broad Street, the new restaurant revives a storied locale with hopes of opening in time for the impending Memorial Day weekend.

“We have met some amazing people already and are hoping to meet some more,” said Justin Ito-Adler, Prime’s General Manager. “One thing we are trying to figure out is what the people that live on Nantucket want in a restaurant. Though we will be serving a full dinner menu, we also want people to stop in for a drink or just to say hi. Those casual interactions have been incredibly valuable to us as we shape the direction of this restaurant.”

Ito-Adler, along with principal owner Matthew Sullivan (a Boston area restaurateur who currently co-owns Needham’s Blue on Highland), and Executive Chef Joshua Smith decided upon the long-vacant Nantucket Island Resorts property after searching available spaces on island and deciding it was just what they were looking for.

“We wanted to create a vibrant environment. The room has a great feel to it and the patio has such an amazing street presence,” said Ito-Adler. “We feel really lucky to be in a building with such an amazing history to it.”

Though it’s housed in a well-known, historic building, Ito-Adler was quick to point out that the group is looking to present a fresh feel.

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“When you hear ‘steakhouse’ or ‘Nantucket’ the image is definitely an old-world feel with white glove type service. We want to create something that doesn’t feel stuffy,” he said. “We want people to laugh, to enjoy themselves and to have the experience that they want to have, not the experience that they feel they should be having. We have an amazing kitchen that wants to create dishes that excite palates, and an incredible front-of-the-house staff of naturally warm and friendly people.”

Hoping to accommodate an array of tastes, Nantucket Prime will offer nearly a dozen cuts of steak, a raw bar, fresh, in-season seafood from the waters around Nantucket, salads and appetizers. They will begin by serving lunch and dinner daily, with the possibility of expanding to a breakfast menu later in the season.

“We will likely open in phases to make sure that we are putting out the food and giving the service that we want to,” said Ito-Adler, emphasizing a focus on quality.

The spaces open to patrons will include the main dining room (accessible from the front entrance of the hotel), featuring a six seat bar, and the outdoor dining patio that has a bar with seating for up to a dozen.

Management had hoped to have opened in time for the Nantucket Wine Festival, but after being delayed by unforeseen circumstances, they now expect to have regular hours the Memorial holiday weekend of May 23rd, excepting a possible, private, special pre-fixe dinner during Wine Fest.

New to Nantucket in varying degrees, Ito-Adler said he and his colleagues are just about ready to open after several months of planning and careful preparation.

“All of us are overjoyed to have the opportunity to work here,” he said. “Over the past few weeks we have already had such amazing experiences and met such amazing people. We are looking forward to meeting the rest of the island, and contributing what we can to an already flourishing Nantucket restaurant community.”

http://www.ackprime.com
For reservations, visit http://www.opentable.com or call 508.228.2117.

Cru Oyster Bar


THE CRU OYSTER BAR

The Cru Oyster Bar will open this May at the end of Straight Wharf in the former location of The Ropewalk, with Jane Stoddard, Carlos Hidalgo and Erin Zircher as owners.

The idea for the three to collaborate and open Cru evolved from a shared vision to create something new and unique on the island by combining their different experiences and strengths.

I sat down with Jane and Carlos recently to find out more. My first question was what kind of a restaurant would Cru be. Their answer: “fresh and pristine seafood with a new take on New England classics, an upscale clam shack, gorgeous and casual.” The Cru press release calls it “casually elegant cuisine in a visually stunning waterfront location overlooking Nantucket harbor.”

As one of the few island waterfront locations, Jane and Carlos want to complement rather than compete with other waterfront restaurants, and will offer something new without redundancy. Cru will cultivate a lively nighttime bar scene, with Saturday and Sunday brunch.

WHY “CRU”?
Jane explained. “We were initially drawn to the name for the French meaning “raw”, and with our desire to have a strong wine program, the wine connotations of “premier” quality also spoke to us. The wine reference to “first growth” was also appealing because it’s our first project together. The play on the word ‘crew’ has also been fun to watch evolve.”

THE CREW

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Erin, Jane, and Carlos

Jane Stoddard initially moved to Nantucket to work with Grace Grossman, and eventually took a job with Juice Guys Care, the non-profit arm of Nantucket Nectars, where she played an integral role in essential island fundraisers such as the Ozone Surf Classic, Iron Teams Relay, and Circus Flora.

After Juice Guys, Jane served as the development director for the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club for more than three years, responsible for public relations, fundraising, event planning and promoting the benefits that the club provided to the island.

From 2008-2011, Jane worked with Angela and Seth Raynor as the general manager and director of operations for the Boarding House, Pearl, and Corazon del Mar.

Carlos Hidalgo had frequently visited Nantucket for many years, moving here in the spring 2010 to work as the manager of The Boarding House and The Pearl, which he did through the end of 2011.

Before he came to the island and at the age of 24, Carlos owned and ran the multiple award-winning Bomboa in Boston from 1999 to 2006. Some of the awards Bomboa received included the Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” from 2000-2005, Food and Wine’s Top 10 New Chefs in 2001, and Bon Appetit’s Best Latin Restaurant in the Country 2001. People Magazine named it Boston’s “sizzling dinner spot to go and to be seen” in 2001, and the Food Network named it Best Cocktails in America in 2000.

The wine director and sommelier will be Jenny Benzie, also formerly at The Pearl. Jenny is the owner of Pour Sip Savor, “an assemblage of sommelier services in Palm Beach, Nantucket and Beyond”, with a “free wine tasting guide so you can sip like a pro.” Pour Sip Savor also offers social tastings, corporate wine events, wine brand ambassadors, wine cellar and collection management, wine program development, service hospitality training, and a wine newsletter. Jenny is based in Palm Beach in the off-season.

DESIGN
Carlos wants the place to feel like an old yacht with driftwood, mahogany, brass and teak. The physical layout will remain basically the same, but with most of the furnishings changing.

The first room will feature a larger bar than in the past, a raw bar, and communal tables.

The middle room will showcase the broad wine selection, and will include a fireplace and new bathrooms.

The actual bar in the “back bar” will be slightly smaller than last year, with two U-shaped banquettes filling the space on the left when you walk into the room.

Susan Stacy and Jim Gauthier from Boston’s design firm of Gauthier Stacy are the designers for the project – Stacy was the interior designer of the Great Harbor Yacht Club. BPC Architecture is the on-island architect team. The renovation work is being done by Jay Hanley’s Blue Star Construction.

FOOD

Erin Zircher, chef de cuisine for 8 years at The Boarding House, is Cru’s executive chef, and as a partner in the restaurant, is excited to be opening her own place. Jane describes Erin’s style as “Mediterranean combined with a French bistro palette, with a fresh take on New England classics”.

A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Erin’s culinary skills have been featured in the Wine Spectator, Zagat’s, Fodor’s, Rachel Ray, Nantucket Today, The Cooking Channel and Boston.com.

The Cru menu will highlight fresh local produce and pristine seafood. Signature dishes will include local summer flounder meunière and a Provencal-inspired seafood stew with Nantucket striped bass, saffron and Pernod.

To give you a feel for what the menu is likely to include, other items expected to be offered, subject to change of course, are:
~ A large selection of oysters featuring at least 12 varieties from east and west coasts
~ Seafood towers of oysters, clams, shrimp and other seasonal seafood
~ New England clam chowder with house-made oyster crackers
~ Local lobster rolls served either warmed and buttered or chilled with herb mayo on house-made brioche rolls
~ Cape Cod mussels steamed with Muscadet and lemon thyme, served with hand-cut frites
~ Native grilled lobster with spicy sausages, Chatham littlenecks, local potatoes and sweet corn salsa verde
~ Black angus sirloin with roasted fingerling potatoes, Pumpkin Pond Farm arugula and béarnaise.

The wine list will be broad in varietals, countries and price points, with a substantial champagne list to compliment the seafood focus. And, of course, there will be hand-crafted speciality cocktails.


ESSENTIALS

Cru should be open by May 10, in time for the Nantucket Wine Festival, and will close in mid-October, then open again for Stroll. The restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and will be open all afternoon serving most items on the menu, including takeout, from 11am to 11pm.

www.facebook.com/crunantucket

508.228.9278

crunantucket@gmail.com

The Nantucket Epicure: Thai House Restaurant


The Nantucket Epicure


By Mary Beth McCahan


Thai House Restaurant is Off to a Good Start

ThaiHouse

I unexpectedly found myself without dinner plans the other night and thought I’d take the opportunity to try out Nantucket’s newest restaurant, Thai House, located at 118 Old South Road across from the airport, in the space vacated by the Dancing Pickle last year. Thai House is operated by the Thairatana family, and they offer not only Thai specialties, but also a number of Chinese-, Asian Fusion-, and Japanese- inspired dishes, including a full sushi menu.

The layout of the restaurant hasn’t changed from the way it was when the Pickle was there – the kitchen is situated along one side of the building, separated by a counter, but open to customer observation. The opposite side of the building contains a small and nicely decorated dining room where table service is available. The place is bright and clean, and both times I’ve walked in (first to pick up the takeout menus and the second time to pick up my order), the room has been filled with appealing sweet and spicy aromas. Service, both on the phone and in person, was prompt, friendly, and capable.

ThaiHouse

ThaiHouse

For my first experience with Thai House, I decided to focus on their Thai dishes. I ordered a broad selection of items to get a good feel for efficiency, quality, and technique (yep, I have a lot of leftovers). My food was ready for pickup in about 20 minutes from the time I called, which I thought was pretty reasonable given the number of different things I’d ordered and the fact that there were several customers ahead of me. As I arrived, I ran into a friend who was getting takeout from them for a second time, which I took to be a good sign.

On the whole, prices were reasonable, portions were generous, and quality was good, with appetizing ingredients carefully and competently prepared. Flavors were bright and authentic, though in a few cases I felt that they could be better balanced, as I’ve noted in the comments on specific dishes that follow. Spicy dishes tend to be pretty hot as prepared, so if you don’t have a great tolerance for spicy heat, you may want to ask them to tone it down a bit when you order.

Of course, I never miss an opportunity for testing wine pairings, and this was no exception. Optimally, I would have balanced the heat in the dishes with an off-dry wine (like a Riesling, Gewürztraminer, or Vouvray), but since I didn’t have any around the house, I settled for an interesting white Nebbiolo I’d gotten last year from Beth English at Current Vintage (2009 Pietro Nera Chiavennasca Bianco La Novella) – though dry with distinct minerality, it contains floral and fruity notes that provided a nice counterpoint to the dishes.

Here’s what I thought about the specific items I tried:

Tom Kha Kai Soup (Coconut milk with galangal, lime, mushrooms, and scallion) – Rich, tasty, and satisfying, though with a lime tartness that was a little too strong and could have been better balanced with the other flavors in the soup. My enjoyment was also briefly interrupted by a couple of overly tough pieces of lemongrass that I’d rather had stayed on the cutting board.

Fresh Rolls (Lettuce and other fresh vegetables with fried tofu and noodles wrapped in rice paper and served with slightly sour peanut sauce) – While certainly fresh, I found these rolls bland and uninteresting, though the appealing peanut sauce helped to punch them up a bit.

ThaiHouse
Fresh Rolls

Crab Rangoon (Crabmeat with cream cheese wrapped in crispy wonton skin served with sweet and sour sauce) – I know, crab rangoon dumplings aren’t Thai, or even Chinese (word is that they may have been invented in the U.S. by Trader Vic’s in the 50s), but I wanted to try them because I haven’t found ones yet that I liked, and I thought I’d give Thai House a chance to change my mind. And they did. Usually when I’ve had them at other restaurants, they’ve been in thick wontons so overly fried that I could hardly taste the filling, but Thai House’s version were in lighter wontons that were lightly fried like tempura, creating a very nice balance with the creamy centers. Of course, fried things rarely do well in take-out situations, because they tend to get a bit steamed and soggy while waiting to be picked up, taken home, and eaten. But even with that complication, these were appealing (so much so that I broke my “working” rule and had more than just one). Next time, I think I’ll order them in-restaurant and eat them as soon as they come out of the fryer to taste them at their best.

Chicken Satay (Slices of chicken on a stick, marinated in coconut milk and light curry sauce, served with peanut sauce and sweet cucumber sauce) – The chicken was tender, tasty, and nicely grilled. An uncomplicated and pleasing appetizer.

ThaiHouse
Chicken Satay

Kung-fu Basil, with ground chicken (stir fry with basil, red and green peppers) – Simple, fresh, and flavorful, but very spicy (or so I thought, until I moved on to the green curry.)

Green Curry, with shrimp (rreen and red peppers, onions, zucchini, and fresh basil) – Good flavor, with nice, fresh vegetables that retained some pleasing crispiness and perfectly cooked shrimp (read: not overcooked, which isn’t easy to achieve with take-out). Sauce was on the thin side, but tasty. The spicy heat in this dish sneaks up on you, starting subtly but gaining significant strength as you continue eating. Definitely not unpleasant, but if you’re sensitive, you may want to ask them to tone it down a bit. I’ve had subtler, more sophisticated and better-balanced green curries in my time, but this one was definitely a contender, and I’d order it again (with less heat).

ThaiHouse
Green Curry

Velvet Salmon (steamed salmon filet sautéed with mushrooms, carrots, onions, red and green peppers, celery, and scallions, with ginger sauce) – A generous portion of salmon, in an appealing-sounding preparation, but it didn’t do so well in the take-out scenario. The plentiful vegetables in an aromatic and tasty ginger sauce were a little overcooked to begin with, and didn’t improve with the waiting time. And, piled as they were over the salmon, their heat resulted in an overcooked piece of fish, as well. A bit more careful planning on the chef’s part could correct this, of course, but if you like salmon, I think it might be better/safer to try this dish on a night you’re eating in the restaurant, rather than getting it for take-out.

Pad Thai, with pork (stir fried noodles with egg, ground nuts, bean sprouts, cabbage, carrots, and scallions) – Nicely prepared, with yummy and surprisingly tender pork.

ThaiHouse
Pad Thai

Pineapple Fried Rice, with chicken (stir-fried rice with egg, pineapple, onions, peas, carrots, and raisins, with a light curry powder) – I have to say that this is not the best pineapple fried rice I’ve ever tasted, but it had a certain je ne sais quoi about it that usually is possessed by the best comfort/hangover food. The chicken and egg were nicely cooked, but none of the other ingredients, on their own, were particularly inspiring (frozen carrots and peas, non-descript and slightly gluey rice, etc.). However, together, they created something that was strangely compelling. I’m not sure how it was achieved, because as far as I could tell, the chicken wasn’t grilled and nothing else in the dish seemed to have been charred, but the dish had an agreeable charcoal-ly flavor that balanced very nicely with the sweetness of the pineapple and raisins, as well as the other components of the dish.

Yum Nur Yang (sliced grilled beef mixed with onion, carrot, scallion, lemongrass, mint, ground sweet rice, lime juice and Thai spices with Thai dressing) – This one didn’t shine for me – flavors and textures just seemed very unbalanced. The steak was on the tough side, the dressing was too strong and tart, the vegetables were wilted (from heat, spice and acidity), and the spice was so hot that it came close to obliterating everything else in the dish. I was surprised about the lack of flavor and tenderness of the steak, because judging from the other dishes I had, the chef seems to have quite a way with meat.

ThaiHouse
Steak Salad

Steamed Jasmine Rice — The steamed rice that accompanied most dishes was unremarkable – not much aroma or flavor, and rather clumpy. It provides additional texture for the various dishes, but it would be more pleasing if it was firmer and fluffier, and a bit more aromatic.

Thai-Style Fried Banana (Deep fried, with grated coconut in sesame batter) – Really, what more can I say than, “What’s not to like about a fried banana?” If I’d had ice cream and caramel sauce, I would have been in heaven.

The Bottom Line

Thai House serves creditable Thai cuisine, offers a nice range of other Asian alternatives, and is definitely worth a try. It may not be Thai nirvana, but it’s good, authentic, and satisfying, and also provides a convenient lunch and dinner alternative for customers located mid- and East-island.


Mary Beth McCahan escaped from the corporate world a few years ago to write, enjoy life, and pursue her passions, which are centered on food, wine, and Nantucket. Her recently launched blog on those subjects, Nantucket Epicure, can be found online at http://nantucketepicure.com.

Nantucket Wine Festival Opening Night

The 15th annual Nantucket Wine Festival Opening Reception took place Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at the White Elephant, featuring Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Champagne served with savory appetizers prepared by the Executive Chef of the Brant Point Grill, Frederick Bisaillon, and accompanied by the music of Nantucket guitar virtuoso Jim Sulzer. Photos by Gene Mahon, assisted by Amanda Morgan. More at MahonAboutTown.com.

Nantucket Restaurants Open This Week

RESTAURANTS OPEN THIS WEEK

Click anywhere on the list below for the most current version of this list, and to download a printable pdf. Thanks to Nantucket Visitor Services, especially David Sharpe, for providing the most current restaurant list. Please report changes or errors to David Sharpe at Visitor Services at 228-0925. For last minute guest room availability, call Visitor Services at 228-0925.

Nantucket Restaurant News

Boarding House
Last weekend before fall break, open for dinner through Saturday.


Cisco Brewers
Cisco is now open until 7 pm every day but Sunday (5pm).


Corazon
Final weekend of the season, with A Buck A Shuck – $1 Oysters from 5:30 to 7 pm, and the Day of the Dead Closing Brunch on Sunday, October 31st from 11am – 3pm. Come in with last night’s costume. Reservations recommended.


Even Keel

No more dinners at Even Keel this fall, but the Keel is still for breakfast and lunch until Thanksgiving.


Figs at 29 Fair
Figs is now offering 25% off food and beverages or 1 gourmet pizza, salad, and a glass of house wine for $25. Open through Stroll weekend.


LoLa 41
LoLa now offers daily lunch specials for $10 and under from 11:30-2:30. Lunch will be served through the spring. Sundays
buy 1 roll and get the second free (of equal or less value).


Oran Mor

“Stu” is now behind the bar most nights. New drinks include the apple infused Woodford Reserve Manhattan and the Welches Grape Crush with local grapes infused with 888 vodka. The restaurant will close at the end of this month and reopen for Thanksgiving dinner and Stroll (with an a la carte menu).


Attention restaurateurs: Send me info on new items on the menu, special prices, special events, etc., for an upcoming issue.

The Green

Nouveau Nantucket

Go Green!

By Holly Finigan


Jenny Bence is giving the Nantucket community another reason to “Go Green”. The Nantucket native spent the last decade as a decorative painter and private chef. After a very impulsive decision this past March, Jenny gathered her talents and began her own all organic food take-out at 5 West Creek Road (formerly Blue Water Bakery).

The space has been completely revamped into a large open kitchen with a side room to sit and snack and read the paper. (The New York Times, Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal are available daily.) The flat screen television airs the latest from CNN and ESPN. And you can connect your laptop to the free WiFi.

The Green is a huge hit with the gamut of Nantucketers, from construction workers coming in for Jenny’s massively satisfying burritos, to Pilates instructors in for their daily Wheatgrass shot, and children of all ages enjoying the fresh everything of JennyÕs design your own juices.

The Green has taken off since its May 15th opening. The lines have at times been out the door for the clean green style of food that Jenny is now known for. Jenny wanted to start off slowly to get the business right, but quickly realized that the demand for everything ÒGreenÓ was more overwhelming than she had once thought. But with the wonderful help of her best friend and dedicated manager, Kamila Olszewska (pictured at left with Jenny), and her friendly and knowledgeable staff, The Green is well supplied with great employees and smiling faces. Add off-street parking and enough healthy food choices to satisfy even the strictest eaters, there are many reasons to check out JennyÕs spot.

HereÕs a few more . . .

Breakfast is so the most important meal of the day. Enjoy it with one of JennyÕs breakfast burritos stuffed with farm fresh herb egg whites, Mexican crema and her special slow cooked black beans.

Need a jolt? The Fair Trade Organic coffee that Jenny gets from Maine is exclusive to The Green. Enjoy a pick-me-up from flavors like Big House, Sumatra and French Roast.

Jenny has also filled the bagel void left after the closing of the Nantucket Bagel Company and Blue Water Bakery. Her Òfla-galsÓ (flat bagels) are flown in from New York. Hand rolled and not nearly as doughy as most bagels tend to be, JennyÕs fla-gals make the perfect breakfast sandwich and pair very well with her organic regular and veggie cream cheeses.

Picky about what you put in your smoothie? Lucky for you, Jenny and her staff let you make-your-own with fresh ingredients such as strawberries, bananas, raspberries, acai, agave nectar, almond milk, and whey protein, just to name a few.

Whether you go to The Green to support the concept of buying local, or if you go because you know Jenny is doing her best to do well by the environment, or just because you canÕt get enough of her nutritious and delicious goods, The Green is truly a great place to eat this season.


Holly Finigan has been living seasonally in Nantucket for the last six years. The 26-year-old graduate of the University of New Hampshire has spent her winters in the Caribbean, New Zealand, and Maui, and Argentina. She tells people she was a monk in her former life. You can find Holly slinging drinks at Corazon del Mar. Check out her popular blog “the blACKbook” at www.hollyblACKbook.blogspot.com, or email Holly at hollyfinigan@gmail.com.

Nantucket Wine Festival Gala

The Tenth Annual Nantucket Wine Festival Gala took place on Thursday, May 20, 2010 at the White Elephant, with more than 30 stations, each with a winemaker and a restaurant chef. This is Part 1 of the photos . . . more to come. Photos by Gene Mahon, assited by Amanda Morgan. Click on any photo to see more photos from this event or an archive of past events.

NWF Gala 2

NWF Gala 3