All Hands on Deck: Coastal New England’s Culinary Awakening
As the sun comes up for air over the north Atlantic and splashes shards of light on the cranberry bogs and wild blueberries of Coastal New England, chefs from Martha’s Vineyard to Dover, New Hampshire, are already clogging their way through dewy grasses to lush seaside farms where summer sorrel, pea plants, and mint leaves bend obediently toward the gentle light of dawn.
Meanwhile, out on Katama Bay, Chef Chris Fischer stuns a hooked bluefish into submission with the sharp transcendent thwack of a beer bottle. That bluefish will make a stunning crudo dish on The Beach Plum Inn & Food’s nightly menu in Menemsha, Martha’s Vineyard. From Chef Patrick Soucy of Ceia in Newburyport, who picks his daily produce from his own organic farm, to Chef Gabriel Frasca’s clam bakes and bar-side garden at Ventuno on Nantucket, small-town New England chefs are circumventing boutique farms and major, as well as minute, purveyors and going directly to the source: the land and sea. The motto here seems to be: use your own two hands.
Chef Justin Walker of Earth in Kennebunkport, epitomizes this ethic. In addition to gardening, he raises his own goats and chickens. The aforementioned bluefish fisherman, Fischer, owns his own farm, too, Beetlebung Farm, which he inherited from his family of farmers who have lived close to the land on Martha’s Vineyard for generations. Like many of his peers, Fischer not only thwacks bluefish, but also nail heads. Fischer installed the wood-paneled ceiling and built the tables in his restaurant’s dining room.
Chefs in this part of the country have a blatant disregard for fads and fashion. They’re literally down to earth, pulling turnips from a friends backyard just hours before service, as with Chef Michael Rottman of Atria in Edgartown. There is a teeming sense of community throughout the region among industry folk who are not following trends—they’re following tradition. On Nantucket, the sense of community is palpable and embodied in the local custom of “The Paul” in which a restaurant worker is entitled to a shift drink of sorts from any establishment on the island. Call it solidarity at the saloon.
Upon visiting Chef Shaun Sells’ dining room at Water Street in the Harbor View Hotel, guests will learn, that his charcuterie program is sourced entirely from the island’s animals, and he even crystallizes his own salt from the Martha’s Vineyard waters at his door step. Sells also takes industry camaraderie a step further, taking advantage of and enriching the innate sense of New England community by trading dinner for his whole staff with other chefs at their restaurants. On a day when his restaurant is closed, Sells takes his staff to a neighboring restaurant, not only for bonding and nourishment, but to learn and see what his peers are doing. The other chef will bring his entire staff to Water Street in return. No money is exchanged in this old-school bartering system.
Accomplished chefs without roots in the region are finding this sense of community inviting. Lauded Chef Philippe Rispoli from Aureole and Daniel, originally from Vilette d’Anton, France, joined the community of artisans out on Cape Cod with his much loved PB Boulangerie in Wellfleet. 2008 New York Rising Star Chef Neal Ferguson worked previously at the 3-Michelin-Star l'Arpege and for Gordon Ramsey in London and New York before being embraced by the community on Nantucket when he arrived to take over as executive chef for Galley Beach.
In these small New England towns and isles we found a personal, playful pursuit of excellence and an unparalleled dedication to hands-on cooking and community. Authenticity isn’t a quest; it’s a manifestation and mantle each chef proudly carries. What big city chefs are constantly striving for in their kitchens, comes naturally to chefs on the New England seaside, where small town culture packs a potent and powerful punch. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of world class culinary establishments thriving throughout America’s north Atlantic coast. From the humble bluefish to the iconic lobster, nothing is taken for granted.
Chef Dan Sauer runs the dynamic and free-spirited sandwich shop and bakery, 7a Foods, where fiction fantastically becomes fact as with his Liz Lemon sandwich (the sandwich of the 30 Rock TV show character's dreams) that is delectably realized: pastrami, turkey, swiss, coleslaw, Russian dressing, crumbled potato chips and all. This thoughtful chef and Montana native cooked at Oceana and Craft before moving to Martha’s Vineyard (his wife and co-owner is a native islander), starting a family, and setting up shop. Because of arcane regulations set forth by the town's board of selectmen, the centrally located shop (named 7a for the federal agricultural region it falls under) is strictly a take-out business with brilliantly executed and lip-smacking sandwiches like the Duck Egg Cheddar-Jalapeno Sausage Biscuit; Short Rib on Ciabatta with Wasabi Peas, Sour Cream, Pickled Vegetables, and Pea Shoots; and the unexpected local favorite Asparagus Melt.Recommended:
Teddy Diggs’ takes New England classics many less talented chefs may take for granted, such as Johnny cakes and clam chowder, and transforms them into dishes worth a pilgrimage to Art Cliff Diner in Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard. Art Cliff converts leave the diner preaching Diggs’ gospel of Lobster-Corn Pancakes and Oyster Chowder Spiked with Smoked Blue Fish—Amen! The best of Diggs’ daily sermon is on the blackboard menu comprised of his specials that showcase his knack for reinvention and preternatural ability to create compulsively eatable dishes such as Almond Encrusted and Almond Cream Filled Brioche French Toast with Cranberry Rhubarb Jam, that make fanatics of all who enter the tiny diner. Diggs may not know every guest by name, but he knows how you like your eggs at this classic diner with classic Martha’s Vineyard wood shingles and a parking lot, dinning room, and counter that can barely hold the crowds clamoring for their favorites. Make meals at Art Cliff Diner a daily ritual, if you can.Recommended:
Chef Michael Rottman is a Connecticut Yankee in Martha’s Vineyard who's natively in tune with the growing seasons and has a slight-of-hand gift for New England ramps, corn, and sea fare preparations. At Atria he combines traditions of both New England cookery and the enduring island restaurant itself with a contemporary mindset and a healthy respect for the island's indigenous foodstuffs, such as backyard turnips and Katama Bay oysters (keep an eye peeled for caviar caveats and foie gras flourishes). Sommelier John Clift's pairings are sophisticated yet delightfully lacking in pretension and may also surprise, as with his pairing for Rottman's Braised Veal Cheek with Turnip, Chèvre Feuille de Brick, Gremolata, and Watercress Oil: Merlot, Duckhorn, Napa Valley, California, 2009. Large lattice picture windows encase the wrap around outer dining room of the converted old Edgartown house that is Atria, where early-American style chairs slide up to white-clothed tables fragrant with flowers from the garden.Recommended:
The most beloved doughnut at Back Door Donuts isn't technically a doughnut; it's a fritter of the apple variety and has caused pastry lovers to line up 100 deep until 1:00 am to satisfy their late-night hankering for sweet deep-fried perfection. Pastry Chef Rafi Jabri is originally from Jordan, trained in England, and today fills his kitchen with eager-to-learn pastry students from all over the world: Brazil, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, Albania, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Jamaica, and his homeland. The doughnuts are indeed ordered and picked up through the back door of a bakery kitchen (the front of the house daylights as a café and bakeshop) with a sign politely requesting, "no screaming, screeching, or yelling," and asks patrons to dispose of trash properly and not to eat all their doughnuts before they get home to the hungry people who sent them on a Back Door Donuts run in the first place.Recommended:
The food at The Beach Plum Restaurant has simplicity, integrity, and a sense of place perfectly exemplified by Chef Chris Fischer's Blue Fish Crudo with Smoked Sea Salt. Fischer is a trained chef who worked for Batali; a farmer by birth; a carpenter by necessity; a writer for The Vineyard Gazette; and a Chilmark native. The Beach Plum is tucked into a woodland area of Menemsha and the wood of the island is continued as a design theme into the dining room where Fischer has had a hand in constructing everything from the tables to installing the beams in the ceiling.Recommended:
This port side restaurant begs for a group of salty sailors trading stories of the open sea. It’s dark black chairs, copper tables, wooden beams, and stained brick walls are an homage to the building's rich nautical history. The food though, is anything but stuck in the past. Pastry Chef Lauren Crosby, who spent years in the savory kitchen, brings bold flavors and textures that contradicts her reserved demeanor. Skipping quenelles of ice cream for floral chevres and creams,Crosby looks to savory ingredients and relies on salt and acid to balance her flavors. Case in point, her Avocado Mousse and Coconut Tartlet with Blackberries, Raspberries, Pineapple Sauce, and Geranium Leaf skips heavy doses of sugar for lime juice, exploiting the natural sweetness of her garnish. Or her Strawberry and Chickpea Fritters with Sweet Vanilla Chèvre, and Foraged Violets is crispy, rich, and comforting.Recommended:
In the former Ceia Kitchen + Bar space, Brine has taken on its own upscale but inviting oyster bar personality. Exposed rafters and wooden flooring gives the space a rustic feel, but its long marble bar and tables show they mean business. Executive Chef Corey Marcoux runs the market-driven daily menu, which showcases the morning’s catch from local fisherman and a rotating selection of oysters. The seafood focused menu also offers house sausages and prime meats, all with the familiar Mediterranean feel shared with Ceia. Marcoux elevates comfort food with great seasoning and acid that make his dishes refreshing and elegant. And don’t forget about savory cook turned Pastry Chef Michael Daly, whose eccentric style exudes dishes like Frozen Yogurt Tube, Poached Rhubarb, Ginger Chip, Vacheron Chomamile Tea Lovage Ice Cream, and Rhubarb Consommé.Recommended:
Tucked into a small alley only feet from Portsmouth’s Main Street, Cava is a respite from the crowds with good food, ambience, and hospitality. Stepping into the dimly lit space that’s cozy without feeling crowded, one is immediately greeted by Chef Gregg Sessler, meticulously crafting plates in his open kitchen alongside his sous chef. Sessler, a veteran of the San Francisco Bay Area is taking a bold approach in Portsmouth. His menu is heavily Spanish-influenced and served in a tapas style that is unusual for the area. Acid forward seasoning brings out flavors in Mediterranean dishes like Baby Octopus with Cherry Tomato, Russet Potato, Red Wine Vinaigrette, and Squid Ink Soffrito. Stick around for dessert and the house-made Churro’s with Giunduja and Ancho Chili.Recommended:
When Restaurateur Nancy Batista-Caswell learned of a three-story building for sale across from her existing space, she knew opportunity was calling; Practically overnight Ceia Kitchen + Bar, tripled in size, Nancy opened a second restaurant in the old space, and Ceia managed to gain even more charm. With two bars and an open service kitchen, all wrapped by brick walls, large chandeliers(think restoration hardware) and regal high-back chairs, Ceia’s new digs focus on making you leave happier than when you arrived. Behind the pass is Chef Patrick Soucy, a farmer’s chef who tends his own organic garden and crafts New American dishes heavily influenced by France,Portugal,Spain, and Italy. By combining local, seasonal ingredients he creates fresh takes on familiar flavors with dishes like Lobster and Octopus Salad, Sweat Bread and Foraged Mushroom, Fava Beans, and Lovage.Recommended:
Modern and traditional Mexican intermingle both on the menu and in the atmosphere of Nantucket’s Corazon del Mar, transporting guests south of the border. Chef de Cuisine Ivan Cecena, protege of established island restaurateurs Seth and Angela Raynor, is cooking the food of his heritage, bringing it triumphantly into the realm of contemporary cuisine. His Sweet Corn Tomal with Queso Fresco and Huitlacoche Ragu is a plate full of summer. The natural sugars of the corn expertly balance the salty cheese, buttery avocado, earthy huitlacoche, and the bright pop of cherry tomatoes. Rough-hewn wooden shutters (they used to be floorboards!), Mexi-kitch knick-knacks, and a long, low bar for casual drinking and dining make this a place to come back to again and again.Recommended:
Step off the ferry and across the cobblestones to Cru for the perfect welcoming to Nantucket. Built onto the dock, this summery spot looks like a captain’s quarters with its glossy dark wood, brassy bar stools, and cream and ultramarine upholstery. Cru serves just what you would want after a day on the water: playful, fresh, and beautiful land and sea fare. The pork belly and fried oyster sliders sport tangy house-made pickles and creamy smoked paprika aioli. The Fluke Meunière with Sage, Brown Butter, and Hazelnuts shows Chef Erin Zircher’s deft hand and intuitive palate. Her’ sunny disposition hints at her Mediterranean travels where she gleaned inspiration which she combines with her classical training to create memorable dishes worth the island hop.Recommended:
Overlooking the main waterway of Kennebunkport from inside the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, David’s KPT is in the heart of town. Restaurateur David Turin, a well-known fixture of the Portland dining scene, has brought his refined comfort food to this shiny new outpost, which also features a restaurant-within-a-restaurant, Opus Ten. For more casual fare, order from the regular menu, featuring items like the Maine Lobster Roll on a house-made focaccia bun, and the Seared Scallops with Honey-Vanilla Glazed Carrots and Thyme-roasted potatoes, a creation of former Sous Chef Phil Reid (now of One Dock). Or opt for the decadent 9-course tasting menu with pairings at Opus Ten. Whether you’re in the main dining room or the upscale Opus Ten, you’ll feed your eyes on views of the port while feasting on Turin’s tasty cuisine.Recommended:
The cuisine at Martha’s Vineyard’s Detente is laid back and luxurious—much like the island itself—and the restaurant's signature dish reflects this style: Truffle Tree Ripened Peaches Dressed in Verjus and Draped in Warm Teleggio Cheese with North Tabor Arugula. Chef and restaurateur Kevin Crowell got his start through a serendipitous summer job opportunity at Cape (Cod) Smoke House that turned into a career and life-changing experience. Today, Detente's reputation precedes it, and it’s a good thing, too, because the compact two-story gem is hidden away in a quiet corner of Edgartown's commercial district.Recommended:
As a restaurant that pays tribute to the beauty and the bounty of coastal Maine, Kennebunkport’s Earth delivers in both style and taste. General Manager and Mixologist Danielle Walker and Chef Justin Walker, previously chef de cuisine of nearby Arrows in Ogunquit, Maine, have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into this new venture, serving up creative drinks and stunning dishes that are at once highly refined and completely unpretentious. His house-pulled burrata, made with local curds and paired wonderfully with bright pickled fruit and bitter greens, makes simple food divine. His Bluefin Poke with Dashi, Radishes, and Pickled Mushrooms demonstrates how a delicate touch can bring together many disparate elements to create a dish greater than the sum of its parts. Cobalt walls, a rough stone fireplace, and a light-draped apple tree hanging inverted from the barn-height ceiling of the dining room make for a stylish country setting.Recommended:
If you’ve never been served by a well-attired sommelier standing with his wingtips in the sand, Galley Beach is the place to head for such a wonderfully dreamy yet formal dining experience. Spectacular ocean views and elegant food may be taken in from rattan chairs sunk in the sand or solidly rooted in the dining room. 2008 Rising Star Chef Neil Ferguson, boasting a resume studded with Michelin–star experience in England and France, is now serving his playful, innovative cuisine under the Nantucket stars. His Twice-cooked Foie Gras with Apple Purée and Buttered Brioche Crumbs is indulgent and whimsical, and when cleverly paired with a 2007 Chateau Soucherie Chaume by the obliging Sommelier Brent Jones, is fodder for seaside dreams.Recommended:
Nestled near the town green of Falmouth, Massachusetts, The Glass Onion’s inviting dining room welcomes visitors with a staff that immediately puts them at ease. In the kitchen, Chef Tim Miller delights in a multi-grained approach, using fresh, seasonal flavors to invigorate traditional preparations. A morsel of braised veal goulash atop a seared scallop is surprisingly light and summery with a bracing acidity. A creamy barley-grape risotto plays well with seared duck breast and a balsamic-black pepper caramel sauce. Take a class with Chef Miller at the nearby Highfield Hall and pick up a few tips to apply at home.Recommended:
On a recent late morning visit to Larsen's Fish Market, two StarChefs.com employees were heard to have eaten six super briny and sizable Katama Bay oysters, two cups of clam chowder, followed by two whole lobsters plus a lobster roll that they split just for safe keeping—or so we heard. The Martha’s Vineyard seafood market and take-out window in Chilmark has been in the Larsen family and in the hearts of islanders for decades and was taken over in 1978 by Betsy and her sister Christine when Betsy was 19, 18 years after her parents started the landmark business. Just off the beach and right on the marina, fishermen dock their boats behind the market, where customers sit feasting on stuffed clams and pulling apart lobsters fresh from the pot.Recommended:
Boasting 8,300 square feet of brew space and six 40-Barrel fermenters, NBPT Brew Co is rigged for production. Brewers Mike Robinson and Chris Webb bring years of professional and home brewing experience to their facility, crafting beers in three styles: a Belgian witbier, a pale ale, and an India pale ale. NPBT is also one of the few breweries in the area (or any of this scale) that operates their own canning line. According to Webb, NBPT brews are meant to be had “straight from the can.” Webb and the other proprietors are also musicians and have incorporated their passion directly into the business. Each six-pack comes complete with a guitar pick and their large space is partitioned for an event space where local bands, and even some professional ones, can show off their stuff.Recommended:
Stepping through the dazzling bright yellow façade at Moxy, one can only expect a great experience and it doesn’t disappoint. Tall ceilings, brightly colored walls, and blonde tables prepare you for a light-hearted experience, but don’t be fooled; Chef-Owner Matt Louis makes it fun while still bringing some serious culinary chops. A veteran of The French Laundry, Per Se and Bouchon, with stages in Clio, Café Boulud, Eleven Madison Park, Noma, and more, he brings technique, sourcing, and years of experience in some of the country’s best kitchens. The menu at Moxy uses a tapas-style approach of small dishes to showcase regional eats. Louis combines local ingredients and flare to create a list of New England bites like Johnny Cake’s with Mustard Glazed Pork Butt, Pickled Cucumber, and Molasses BBQ sauce and Fried Clams with Mustard Aїoli, Pickled Peppers, and Onions, served skewered on tiny bamboo sticks.Recommended:
The Sugar Mamas’ raw chocolate has depth of flavor similar to dark chocolate, contains an energizing array of nutrients including magnesium, and is in all their wares: pastries, powders, syrups, and their chocolate bars such as "Be Sexy"—just get 'em while they're cold, they melt fast! Kyleen Kenan and Bennett Coffey are self-taught and self-styled businesswomen, chocolatiers, and sugar mamas who produce a vast array of raw chocolate products, baked goods, and healthy vibrations. Kenan and Coffey have blended a tiki bar aesthetic with that of a surf shop and swapped the piña coladas for raw chocolate-avocado smoothies. Surf boards have been traded in for chocolate bars and gluten free cookies, cup cakes, and scones at the two Not Your Sugar Mamas Martha’s Vineyard locations in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown.Recommended:
Slightly removed from downtown Kennebunkport, Chef Jeffrey Savage’s On The Marsh is a romantic escape from touristy bustle. Exposed beams and occasionally kitschy décor flows seamlessly into a whimsical garden. The menu is dominated by comforting classics with an occasional twist thrown in by Chef Jeffrey Savage. Check out the sushi menu at the bar on Thursdays, or opt for the meltingly tender Short rib with Root Vegetable Mash and Spicy Broccoli Rabe any night of the week. Savage was mentored by Chef Sam Haywood at Fore Street Restaurant in Portland, Maine, as reflected by his aptitude for presenting local ingredients in their most flattering light.Recommended:
Set in the Kennebunkport Inn, One Dock serves guests a friendly welcome to the cuisine of coastal Maine. Rich blues and clean white accents put diners in a nautical state of mind, ready to enjoy Chef Brian Roche’s expertly executed surf and turf. An alum of Todd English’s Olives in NYC and protégé of Boston’s Ken Oringer, Chef Roche’s subtlety and forward-thinking turns enliven long-time favorites. Don’t miss the lobster bisque, a refreshing update on a sometimes-stodgy standby, which features lighter-than-air lobster-shrimp “sausage” and a velvety slurp-to-the-last-drop texture. Follow it up with the intensely flavorful Slow-roasted Ribeye with Pomme Puree and Sauce Vin Rogue, a timelessly tasty preparation.Recommended:
Perched on the western most tip of the island in Aquinnah above Gay Head Beach at Martha’s Vineyard Sound, the aptly named Outermost Inn is secluded atop a plateau of sheer clay cliffs that are ever-so-slowly crumbling into the ocean. Outermost Chef Scott Cummings describes his ambitious, elegant, and French-inflected food as clean, precise, and tasty—agreed. Cummings was raised in the Chicago suburbs, started washing dishes at a French bistro at 14, and advanced his professional cooking career as an adult in the Chesapeake Bay region before enlisting in the intensive culinary training program at The Greenbrier, ultimately graduating and joining the elite ranks of Greenbrier alums in 2005. Don’t miss Pastry Chef Mike Winkelman’s mignardises or composed desserts such as Tangerine Dream: Goat Cheese Croquette, Tangerine Sorbet, Black Berries in Balsamic, Florentine Tuile, and Feuitine Crumbs.Recommended:
Boulangerie by day, bistro by night, Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis, Massachusetts, offers the best of classical French culinary traditions at all hours. In the morning the sunny bakery stocks rustic baked goods, from fresh croissants and brioche to an outrageous monkey bread—the remnants of which you’ll lick from you fingers but never be able to get off your mind. Linger over your coffee and then move straight into the savory menu for Chef Matthew Tropeano’s beautiful renderings of French and local classics. The grilled octopus is tender and flavorful on a bed of farro, white beans, and chick pea salad with preserved lemon. And the beef bourguignon is a comforting meaty indulgence at outdoor bistro tables or inside the sleek and intimate white linen dining room.Recommended:
The irresistible aroma of freshly baked bread will make you want to sprint to join the line winding out the door at the popular PB Boulangerie bakery-bistro in South Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Chef-owner Philippe Rispoli and his right hand man, Sous Chef Simon Rouget, bring years of Michelin-starred fine dining experience to their family-friendly Cape Cod favorite. Pick up some pastries and sandwiches for a sumptuous picnic on the beach; nibble fig-fennel bread until you’ve unwittingly vanquished a whole loaf; or seek shaded shelter under the awning and tuck into some classic bistro fare for a more substantial meal on the porch.Recommended:
There’s a glow in the dining room at The Pearl, located on Federal Street in downtown Nantucket. Frosted glass and weathered bricks create private nooks and corners in the intimate dining room. An inviting porch and patio set the stage for a chic soiree. Chef de Cuisine Liam Mackey, cooking under the guidance of husband-wife owners Chef Seth Raynor and Angela Raynor, brings global influences to his preparations of local seafood. Hamachi sashimi shimmers with aji amarillo-yuzu emulsion with avocado and cilantro. Korean Fried Quail (KFQ) packs a wallop of savory, spicy flavor into a tiny package. Whether you ask the somm, Stephen Bowler, or the mixo, Clinton Terry, to wet your whistle, you’re assured to be pleased as punch.Recommended:
In true “Breaking Bad” style, Brewer Tyler Jones uses his chemical engineering degree to intoxicate the masses at Portsmouth’s local brew house. In the basement of Portsmouth Brewery, below plates of Tempeh Ruebens, Ploughman’s Platters, and Spice Grilled Steaks, Jones pumps out 1200 barrels a year of unconventional beers spiked with flavors like lemongrass, strawberry rhubarb, and ginger. With names like Stephan Urquell and Whipper Snapper you can tell Jones doesn’t take himself too seriously, but don’t worry, he still makes the classics, and he does it all well.Recommended:
Daniele Dominick is a self-taught baker who develops her own recipes with the intention of making them as simple as possible, "so I can't screw 'em up," she says, and, simply put her humble intent yields delicious delights. The baked-doughnut, rugala, croissant, and pao de queigo making at Scottish Bakehouse in Tisbury begins at 3:00 am. Dominick will command a caffeinated staff of 25 at the height of Martha’s Vineyard’s summer season with the help of her resourceful pastry chef, Tanya Chipperfield. The slightly tree-hidden location of the Bakehouse—off State Road—does not deter loyal customers from seeking out the sandwiches, cinnamon donuts, and pastries they crave.Recommended:
The dream for many chefs is a well equipped kitchen, few seats, and the freedom to create playful, edgy food that pushes the boundaries of cuisine. Chef Evan Hennessey of Stages at One Washington has achieved this dream. Hidden in a seemingly unending maze of stairwells and boutiques resides one of Dover, New Hampshire’s most interesting eateries. In a room adorned with myriad immersion circulators, induction burners, NO2, stabilizers and a small crew of young cooks, Hennessey combines local ingredients, foraged treasures, and a flair for finding the unusual in the everyday to create art on a plate. The familiar flavor of roasted pork comes in the form of Glazed Berkshire Pork Leg (that’s right, leg—not the ubiquitous belly) with Wheatberries, Sunchoke, Pickled Mushrooms, and Orange.Recommended:
Serving skate, rabbit, and soft-shell crab to start, this island favorite in West Tisbury finishes strong, too, with familiar desserts inventively tweaked and modernized as with a Rhubarb-Banana Crostata with Butter-Milk Ice Cream. State Road’s Chef Austin Racine and Pastry Chef Rose Sarja make a diligent and popular back of the house duo. In the front of the house, husband and wife owners, Mary and Jackson Kenworth, greet every guest at their beautifully renovated house with three dining rooms, dark polished woods, high ceilings, and raised garden beds out front for use by the chefs in back.
With its wood shingles and exposed beams, Straight Wharf’s lofty dining room and deck perched on the piers are one hundred percent beach-easy Nantucket. The menu, however, is more New York City than New England island. Chef Mayumi Hattori’s Zen sensibility extends to the refined platings that blissfully marry art and naturalism. Despite an early introduction to food at her grandmother’s knee, Hattori was a relative latecomer to the industry, leaving behind a position in retail management to pursue a culinary degree. Taking a page from the books of her mentors, Chef Alex Scrimger and 2006 Rising Star Chef Gabriel Frasca, Hattori’s flavors are pure and unmanipulated. Her contemplative style celebrates product and is a measure of her own promising talent.Recommended:
Resembling a huge beach house, The Tides Beach Club in Kennebunkport will tempt you to stay the whole summer. From the shore-chic lounge and plush porch-rockers, to the casual dining space and the seafood menu, the ocean motif runs deep. Chef de Cuisine John Shaw, a Kennebunk native, worked his way from entry-level to his current position running the kitchen and writing the menu. Local sea fare is his focus, as in his trio of Fried Clams, Lobster Spring Roll, and Brown’s Point Oysters with Strawberry-Fennel Mignonette.Recommended:
Situated within the scenic Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Harwich, MA, Twenty-Eight Atlantic’s sophisticated dining room has a refined ocean side vibe. Skip the beachwear and don your chinos and pearls to take a seat next to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Little Pleasant Bay. The food will make you feel right at home as well, with familiar local staples lovingly re-imagined for the modern diner; watermelon carpaccio with chevre and balsamic readies the palate for an upscale presentation of the classic New England lobster bake. The chef, Englishman James Hackney, formerly of The Mandarin Oriental and L’Espalier in Boston, is resisting staid resort fare rules and finding jubilant and, at times, envelope-pushing moments for his menus.Recommended:
Street’s industrial meets modern space embeds art, sculpture and exotic comfort food under one roof. Adorning the restaurant, handcrafted sculptures from reclaimed bicycles hang from the ceilings with modern art (some done by the employees themselves) on the walls. Josh Lanahan, who spent time travelling across Southeast Asia and seeking out the world’s best comfort foods, combines his penchant for the East and a desire to comfort his guests by serving dishes like bibimbap, the increasingly popular Cemita Sandwich, and Asian-inspired—and shatteringly crispy—chicken wings. Lanahan’s heavy on umami and likes to kick it up a notch with a heavy hand of gochujang or chipotles and will definitely leave you wanting more.Recommended:
Bright-eyed and soft spoken Chef Carlos Montoya came to Martha’s Vineyard from another island—Manhattan—after doing stints at Aureole and Fresco. In the summer haven’s Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs he crafts New England isle-style cuisine with a classic French sensibility and solid technique applied approachably, as with the house-made pork jerky garnishing hamachi, and lobster-filled zucchini blossoms. The glowing hardwood floors of the small dining rooms are uneven, mismatched, and beautiful, as is the 100-year-old Victorian house that contains The Café on its first floor, including an enclosed front porch and side screened in deck decorated with a smattering of abstract-beachy art and ornate mirrors.Recommended:
Inspired by Italian farmhouse restaurants, Ventuno welcomes guests as friends and neighbors. Housed in a stately abode on Nantucket’s Federal Street, the furnishings effortlessly match the classic elegance of the fare. Glossy wood panels, mint walls, and cream moldings lend each dining area a graceful charm, and the back patio is perfect for balmy summer evenings. Executive Chef-Owner Gabriel Frasca and Chef de Cuisine Andrea Solimeo offer a menu of Italian classics making the best possible use of Nantucket’s local bounty. The handmade garganelli with local peas, guanciale, and creamy parmesan sauce is a masterful balance of rich ingredients combined to a delightfully light, flavorful effect. Sommelier Tanya McDonough’s pairings are a bull’s eye, and Pastry Chef Kevin Gravito’s sweet treats will send you home on a high note.Recommended:
Shaun Sells isn't serving hotel food, he's serving his food—from sea salt he makes in-house and charcuterie items such as guanciale made from island pigs, to produce from the eleven raised vegetable and herb garden beds cultivated throughout the Harbor View Hotel property that houses Water Street restaurant. The exuberant chef started life in a two-person tent in Corral Bay on the island of St. Thomas. Eventually he landed on the Cape Cod islands to pursue culinary dreams that materialized on the shores of Martha’s Vineyard—where Edgartown Harbor meets Katama Bay. Harbor View offers crisp, clean, and classic coastal living and dining, with baby blue rocking chairs lining the wrap-round deck and small tidal pools and waving sea grasses separating slow-rockers from the lighthouse on the harbor.Recommended:
A sprawling scenic resort set on the edge of the beach, Chatham Bars Inn epitomizes Cape Cod luxury. Whether you stay in the main inn or one of the twenty-six cottages scattered throughout the property, you’ll revel in the care and attention given to every aspect of your stay, from in-room espresso makers and cheese plates to the gracious and accommodating staff. The breakfast buffet laid out in the main inn is a perfect way to start your day before heading to the beach or the Chatham Seaside Links Golf Course, or simply settle yourself on the front porch to soak in the sea breeze.
Open year round, the elegance of the Compass Rose Inn offers luxurious accommodations in the heart of historic downtown Newburyport. Cared for by Inn Keeper Gloria Martin, The Compass Rose is a short walk from the centuries old waterfront, which offers river cruises, deep sea fishing, kayaking, and more. A short walk walk south leads to theaters, actors studios, art centers and a flourishing dining scene, which happens to include Ceia Kitchen + Bar and Brine. The large suites offer king sized beds and personal seating areas with desk and fireplace. Breakfast is served each morning at a long communal table beside the hotel’s inviting common room.
Built in the late 1800s the Inn at Newburyport offers modern amenities for vacationers, business travelers, or even passersby. The inn is blocks from downtown Newburyport’s dining scene, art galleries, and more and is only minutes from Plum Island’s secluded ocean beaches. Suites are available in studio and one bedrooms and all include cable, flat screen televisions, wi-fi, and full kitchens with gas stoves and full size refrigerators. And many rooms have private fireplaces. The Inn offers weekly rates or daily rates.
Centrally located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Marriot Fairfield Inn is a great choice for both business and leisure travel. Located minutes from downtown Portsmouth and with great access to major highways, many of Portsmouth’s destinations are only minutes away. The hotel offers an outdoor pool and a shuttle to a nearby full-service gym as well as complimentary high-speed internet access in guest rooms and public spaces and a free continental breakfast with yogurts, fresh fruit and full coffee bar.
Everything about the Harbor View Hotel is crisp, clean, and relaxing; from the guest rooms and the communal spaces to the salty ocean air and eponymous harbor views. One can't help but fall back into a baby-blue rocking chair on the wraparound porch and exhale. Besides access to a postcard-perfect private beach complete with lighthouse, the Harbor View also offers fishing trip excursions and sunset sailboat rides. Inside the hotel, crafty and creative Executive Chef Shaun Sells runs the show at the Water Street restaurant, the pub, and for room service. He also cultivates the many raised vegetable and herbs garden beds throughout the property. We recommend the charcuterie board (everything is house-made, including the sea salt), the steak, and never leaving.
The grounds of the Menemsha Inn are dotted with private cottages and larger communal country houses. Most guest rooms have balconies looking out onto the wild rolling green hills that giveaway to paradisaical ocean views. There are bikes, hiking trails, and a chicken coup on the premises. The Inn's campus also includes a lodge for events and a daily breakfast. Classic Martha's Vineyard New England charm is as evident and abundant as the fragrant wild roses. One short trail leads to the Menemsha's sister inn, Beach Plum Inn & Food, which is home to the restaurant where Chef Chris Fischer (an island native) crafts thoughtful, modern dishes that honor the rich culinary heritage of the Vineyard.
Aura is located in the Seaport Hotel in Boston’s financial district. 2009 Boston Rising Star Chef Rachel Klein draws upon a variety of influences, including her Eastern European heritage and New York upbringing, to compose dishes that are creative in presentation, flavor, and technique. Scarlet borscht is refined (with the help of agar and xanthan gum) from the big bowl of cold soup your grandmother made to an elegant composition accompanied by smoked sable, beets, potato, and sour cream.
Tucked in the cobbled streets of Manhattan’s West Village, Catch’s multi-floor restaurant/bar/nightclub offers more than an elevator trip to dinner. The kitchen, led by Chef Hung Huynh and Pastry Chef Thiago Silva, offers the ultimate in social dining, cranking out shareable plates to tables in a steady stream throughout the evening. The seafood-focused menu spans from traditional sushi to Mahi Mahi tacos while also offering a 28 day dry-aged strip steak for must-have-beef eaters. Pastry Chef Silva brings familiar American flavors to the plate with a deconstructed banana split, seasonal stuffed donuts, and a bucket of fresh-baked cookies.Recommended:
Ken Oringer’s flagship restaurant Clio serves contemporary French-American cuisine that brings us back every time we visit Beantown. During our latest tasting, we were bowled over with new Chef David Rodrigues and his modern, yet approachable cuisine (floral, sweet, and spiced notes all make appearances). And Mixologist Todd Maul put the Clio bar on the map, and we never say no to one of his tipples, a guaranteed spot-on spin on tried and true classics. And you never know when Maul will pull out the power drills to take infusion to the extreme.Recommended:
2006 Rising Star Chef Tony Maws blew us away when his restaurant was Craigie Street Bistrot. In its newly remodeled location, Craigie on Main is bigger and as good as ever; the well-equipped, shiny open kitchen is simply stunning. Maws’ cooking is as impressive as ever, with a menu that changes daily, his “Chef’s Whim” tasting menu, and his commitment to local, organic ingredients. The the bar program at Craigie is a true cocktailian spot with artisanal touches like house-made vermouth.
For the ultimate example of fine dining service, atmosphere, and cuisine look no further than L’Espalier. Their new digs on Boylston Street are more elegant than ever. Maitre d’ and Fromager Louis Risoli has been at L’Espalier for over 30 years and gracefully and knowledgeably runs the front of the house, as well as the Grand Fromage cheese program. Executive Chef Frank McClelland has a nearby farm that supplies L’Espalier and the Sel de la Terre restaurants with fresh produce and meat. Chef de Cuisine James Hackney takes these ingredients and creates a menu that is seasonal, graceful, and full of fun flavors. 2009 Rising Star Pastry Chef Jiho Kim makes playful desserts like a grownup Oreo with milk sorbet and Raspberry Greek Yogurt with Muscat Gelée and Coconut Sorbet that is a study in textures.
Flour is the ultimate neighborhood bakery—and anything but traditional. Yes, there are the classic breakfast pastries, like buttery croissants, tarts, cakes, and cookies, but there are also some unconventional additions like sesame and jicama, and sandwiches so good you want to eat them every day (we’re partial to a custardy egg sandwich with spinach and Portobello mushroom). Behind the bakery is 2009 Boston Rising Star Restaurateur Joanne Chang, whose loving touch is visible on every item in each location. With at least two more locations in the works and a cookbook on the way, Chang is proving to be an unstoppable force in the Boston food scene.
If you didn’t know it was there you might pass by Garden at the Cellar and never know you were missing a great restaurant. Inside 2009 Rising Star Chef Will Gilson is cooking imaginative, impeccably executed, exciting cuisine in a tiny kitchen. Having been raised on an herb farm with an attached restaurant, Gilson has an innate respect for his ingredients and instinctively knows how to properly compose a dish. Flawlessly seared foie gras is served with the unlikely combination of doughnuts, rhubarb, and rhubarb foam, while rustic schnitzel is topped with a two hour egg and lemon aioli.
Pink Chinese dragons decorate the windows, vintage tea cans hold plastic chopsticks, and Chinese newspapers act as place mats at hip Myers + Chang. Co-owner Joanne Chang, winner of the 2009 Boston Rising Stars Restaurateur Award, has created a funky diner-like atmosphere with a menu that is inspired by Taiwanese soul food and Southeast Asian street food. She and Chef Matthew Barros collaboratively cook up fiery food that is comforting and totally addictive. Fried chicken is braised in coconut milk and lime then steamed on the line and fried to order, the result of which is an aromatic chicken that is über-crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) comes with a fried egg and fiery chili paste on top for a dish that is brimming with heat and flavor. Chang's pastries, her specialty, are also Asian-inspired and downright comforting. Frozen Vanilla Bean Parfait with Fresh Orange Granita is a grown-up creamsicle with the oranges acting as a homage to Chinese desserts.
Every time we visit Oleana we’re reminded of why Chef Ana Sortun was named a 2003 Boston Rising Star Chef (one of the first ever!). She is all about infusing her soulful Middle Eastern cuisine with intricate layers of spice, resulting in dishes that awaken the senses and keep you wanting more. Her Spicy Fideos is like paella but prepared with crushed vermicelli instead; tossed with Swiss chard and chickpeas and garnished with orange aioli, fresh cilantro, and scallions, this spicy dish is absolutely addictive. Pastry Chef Maura Kilpatrick (winner of the 2009 StarChefs Concept Award for her and Sortun’s bakery Sofra) prepares delectable desserts with Middle Eastern flavor profiles that are unusual and satisfying.
Located in between the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and L’Espalier is the Boylston Street location of Frank McClelland and Goeff Gardener’s Sel de la Terre. Chef de Cuisine Louis DiBiccari (winner of the inaugural 2009 Rising Stars Community Award) prepares the restaurant’s signature French-Provençal cuisine with rustic dishes like Bluefin Pate and Foie Gras Torchon with diBiccari’s own flare in the form of pickled cherries and house-made potato chips with Z’atar spices. DiBiccari is deeply involved and committed to the Boston culinary scene, and whenever he’s not in his own kitchen he can be found cooking for a sommelier smackdown, hosting one of his popular “Chef Louis” nights, traveling to New York to help a buddy cook at the Beard House, or supporting his fellow chefs at their restaurants.
Inspired by the cuisine of Turkey, Lebanon, and Greece, Ana Sortun, Gary Griffin, and 2009 Rising Star Concept Award Winner Maura Kilpatrick teamed up to create Sofra. It's the neighborhood bakery everyone wishes was right around the corner from them. From savory to sweet there’s something on the menu for everyone—from people who want to experiment with Middle Eastern cuisine to those who want shortbread and coffee. The Turkish Breakfast centers around a soft-boiled egg that's breaded in shredded phyllo and deep fried. It’s served with sliced cucumbers, dry-cured black olives, cubes of fried breaded feta, labne, tomato jam, and orange jam. A pastry chef by training, don’t miss Kilpatrick’s sweet creations as well, like the Kunefe with Champagne-Cardomom Syrup, which illustrates her masterful integration of spices into her pastry.
Situated in a mall in the shadow of Gillette Stadium (home to the New England Patriots) is not where you’d expect to find a cozy wine bar, let alone the winner of the 2009 StarChefs Rising Star Sustainability Award. But Chef Richard Garcia surprised us at every turn, not only with his Spanish-inflected food (his family owns restaurants in Rioja, Spain) and commitment to sustainability, but also with his sensual plating presentation. Sommelier Dave Cicciarella selects funky pairings to accompany Chef Garcia's elegant food. And, as if that wasn't enough, 95 percent of the products in their kitchen are local, sustainable, and/or organic; all the equipment is energy efficient; all the water is recycled; they don't use linens (to cut down on water usage); the take out containers are biodegradable; their biodynamic wine list is growing. The cocktail list, compiled by Mixologist Todd Schroer, is focused on fresh, local produce.
Toro is a neighborhood tapas bar with a devoted following—including a serious chef clientele. 2009 Rising Star Chef Jamie Bissonnette offers expertly prepared house-made charcuterie that bursts with flavor and has all the right textures. He draws heavily on his arsenal of Spanish techniques, exemplified in simple dishes like Navajas a la Plancha and elegant ones like Ostras en Escabeche composed of four oysters each with a slightly different presentation and taste. Courtney Bissonnette heads up the beverage program, mixing up refreshing cocktails that incorporate fresh ingredients and work in harmony with the food.
At Ken Oringer’s tiny sashimi bar, Uni, Chef Chris Gould brings a modern touch to classic Japanese sashimi dishes in an elegant, well-balanced menu. Although Gould continues the traditional sashimi style 2009 Boston Rising Star Chris Chung started at the Back Bay restaurant, his menu is no stranger to creative cross-cultural elements. Spanning the globe, a watermelon salad becomes both herbaceous and sweet when paired with Portuguese sardines, while a more traditional Japanese Ito Yori dish gets a European sidekick paired with floral elderflower.Recommended:
Hailing from a family of Umbrian lentil farmers, Mike Pagliarini’s food is as unassuming as his character. As chef de cuisine at Michael Schlow’s Via Matta, Pagliarini serves refined rustic Italian cuisine with personal touches. Scottish Salmon crudo is served with Umbrian lentils, offering a direct link to his heritage. Other dishes, like the Grilled Branzino alla Ligure, are the result of meticulous research into Ligurian ingredients—and, in this case, a search for Ligurian celery leaves, which turned out to be lovage.