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May 21, 2004 08:05 PM

Martha's Vineyard

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Any musts or don't bothers for our week on the vineyard? Thanks everyone!

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  1. well, depending on where you stay, there are great eats in each town. Edgartown has Alchemy which is great. Lattanzi's pizza is great (I recommend their meat combination). In W. Tisbury I havent been to Bittersweet yet, but have heard raves. Park Corner Bistro in Oak Bluffs also, great.
    One caveat... don't expect any of this to be cheap. I find restaurants here to be far more expensive than they should be... I used to live in Manhattan and good restaurants (all but the finest) there weren't as pricey.
    Bottom line? You'll pay alot more than you think you should for good food.

    4 Replies
    1. re: OaksBluff

      Thanks OaksBluff! Will keep them all in mind. Any word on Lure at Winnetta? The chef's from the 4Seasons Boston. And any way to get passes to the restricted beaches? We really love to explore and see off the beaten path places! Thanks.....we're staying in Vineyard Haven.

      1. re: slyfox

        have heard nothing but good things about Lure, although havent been there myself. Yes, chef is from 4Seasons, so how bad can it be, right?
        in VH.... hmmmm. Cafe Moxie is pretty nice, if it is open this week.
        as for going to the private beaches.... hmmm. good luck there. they are fairly zealous in their private-ness. but good luck with the old, "Oh, I didn't know it was private!" upon meeting a protector.

        1. re: OaksBluff

          You don't really need to crash the private beaches to get 'off the beaten path'. There's so much wonderful Vineyard. I recommend taking one of the guided natural history tours offered by the Trustees of Reservations on Cape Pogue.

          Brunch at Lola's is fun. It's abundanant and has some unusual selections (mussels for breakfast?) -- sometimes it feels a bit like a casino chafing-dish buffet, but it's a great way to start a day of explorations.

        2. re: slyfox

          Ed Gannon was wonderful when he was at Aujourd'hui. I'm sure his food is amazing at Lure but $$$$! I've attaached a link to dining on the vineyard - it's helpful but be careful some restaurants are riding on reviews that are 5 seasons old (ie. Balance). Hope it helps!


      2. The Warf in Edgartown is a good and reasonable priced place to eat. David Ryans and The Newes in Edgartown are also very good. Stay away from Danny Quinns Irish Pub in Oak Bluffs. The live entertainment was unbearably loud and was not irish songs but rather children's songs like "The wheels of the Bus" Also food portions very small.

        14 Replies
        1. re: Kerriblue

          Thanks for this note about Danny Quinn's but just an observation that this thread is now 5 years old and there have been many changes here on MV since the original post and the answers that follow. Maybe it is time for a general update on the MV scene. Balance, Lola's, Cafe Moxie and others are not around any more. (Moxie burned down last year and won't be ready until next year.)

          1. re: mvi

            hello mvi,

            you are right. time for an update. I am about to leave for my annual August sojourn in Chilmark. According to friends there, a number of changes have happened during the off season. As I understand it, Homeport has been taken over by the folks at Beach Plum and its concept remains the same. The RoadHouse/Ice House building in Chilmark (which was interesting for a few years until it became Deon's last year) has been leveled and rebuilt and opened by the people who used to own Sweet Life in Oak Bluffs. The Cornerway in Chilmark, owned by Deon, is now the Chilmark Tavern. And Deon's has taken over the former Balance space in Oak Bluffs.

            That said.

            I will start this renewed thread by giving my choices for the best of the Vineyard (and the worst) as the end of 2008. To be updated by others based on recent changes, I hope.

            The best:
            Detente Edgartown-small intimate, and funky

            Sweet Life Cafe-Oak Bluffs- go on a nice night and sit in the garden, the inside is a little stuffy.

            Beach Plum Inn-Elegant, the sunset views over Menemsha are worth the $$$$

            Outermost Inn-every year the food is different, seems they switch chefs alot, but without a doubt the most romantic place to have dinner on MV. Again great sunsets. And Hugh Taylor is a great host.

            The Bite-Menemsha- the Ur Clam Shack. One picnic table. Bring your gear and eat on the Menemsha beach. An essential Vineyard experience.

            Art Cliff Diner-Vineyard Haven-only for breakfast and only if you don't mind lines.

            Catch at the Terrace-This is the restaurant at the Charlotte Inn. Used to be L'Etoile. Don't be confused. This is the second most romantic restaurant on MV. But very very expensive even by Vineyard standards. But it is soooo comfortable.

            Now for the worst.

            And the worst is, without a doubt. The Black Dog Tavern. I remember 20 years ago I absolutely loved this place. Then it went tourist and corporate and is now the biggest rip off on the Island. I miss it like hell. It used to be so cool to sit out on the dock with a bottle of wine, wait for your name to be called, and be served eclectic funky food that was reasonably priced. No more. Its still ok for breakfast.

            2nd worst. Nearly every restaurant in Edgartown and Oakbluffs. Total complete utter tourist traps and rip offs. Atria, Zephrus, Newes from America, Sharky's Cantina, David Ryan's. For that matter thank god that Cafe Moxie burned down. It was horrible too. There are a couple of places that will do in a pinch, Jimmy Seas. Lattanizi's but nothing that would make me drive down island.

            The dining scene on the Vineyard is, how shall I say this, far from stellar. They have a captive audience and they know it. The good places are expensive, Manhattan prices, but these are seasonal businesses and thats to be expected. Some places, especially the Outermost, you go more for the atmosphere and the vibe which there can truly be magical.

            So chowhounds. What have I missed on my best list. I have been going to the Vineyard for 30 years and I think I have been to every place on the Island. I have to have missed something.

            1. re: chrism23

              replying to my own post. before anyone screams at me, sorry for the crack about the Cafe Moxie burning down above. That was cruel and uncalled for. I know the fire, especially because it damaged A Bunch of Grapes, one of the world's best book stores, was a tragedy for Vineyard Haven. I found out I can't edit or delete once these are posted. So its my bad. Again I am sorry if the comment offended anyone.

              1. re: chrism23

                Wow, I always enjoyed Cafe Moxie. Amazing fresh ingredients. in fact, it was a real favorite of many here. I guess that is what makes Chowhound interesting....all of these strong opinions.

                Sorry you don't like the restaurants down island too much. At least you have some good choices up island.

                1. re: chrism23

                  Chrism, please...don't hold back! LOL. We seem to agree on many places, especially in Ct, but, you don't really explain why you dislike those MV spots. What is "tourist trap" about Atria. but not Outermost? You seem to put Sharky's in the same category as Detente. Clearly, they cannot be compared., especially on price. In fact, some of the "tourist" venues you mention are open year round, including the Black Dog. (For 3 meals a day no less). Many local chefs started here, most recently the owner/chefs of Mediterranean, a really great place you didn't mention, but should try (Oak Bluffs). Did they just get good once they left Black Dog? Doubtful. I don't see any connection between the selling of tee shirts and mugs with the quality of a restaurant, good or bad either. So the service has never been good..... Knowing how fastidious you are, I am surprised you like Jimmy Seas, with their amateurish service and long waits. You must applying the value rule here. (Except on the nights when they run out of garlic - no lie). When they re-open try Cafe Moxie again. They were definitely on the way up. The only "new" thing you may not have tried are the Sunday brunches at The Grill on Main and especially, Mediterranean. Seem expensive on the face of it, but they give good quality for the price.

                  1. re: thos

                    Hey thos,

                    In reply to your questions. Outermost is so uneven its maddening. Some years it is very good, other years insipid. it depends on the chef. Why its not a tourist trap is its setting. Last year when I was there they had a telescope set up to view the osprey nest. There were osprey hatchlings which was so cool. Then while having dinner, there was a bright red perfect sunset in the distance. Then first one deer, then another, a total of six strolled into the back yard. It doesn't get any better than that. Yea, I wish the food was perfect, but hey, its much better than in years past so I can give them a mention. Atria just doesn't have that. They throw a piece of grilled salmon, some veggies, a starch on a plate and charge your $35 or whatever.

                    I don't think I equated Sharky's and Detente at all, at least I hope I didn't. For the last two years Detente, again, imho, has served the most edgy adventuresome food on the Vineyard. The place is sort of dark, not really too comfortable, but I think its had the top food on the Island. I hope they keep pushing the envelope though I doubt it.

                    I think I expressed my mixed emotions about the Dog. When the son of the owner took over the company, and the restaurant, revamped the menu, limited the number of entrees, everything went to hell. I still always go there for breakfast before the boat home and I love its breakfasts. But for dinner, no way. I remember the year of Hurricane Bob, when up-island was blown out, the Dog and Vineyard Haven still had power, and I ate there I think 6 nights in a row. And it was perfect. Alas, those days are gone.

                    I haven't been to Mediterranean and plead ignorance.

                    Jimmy Seas I haven't been to in a number of years. Yes, it was a value comment. It used to be cheap and ok, and a number of locals I hang with on the beach used like it a lot. Maybe its slipped, I don't know.

                    Eating out on the Vineyard is a conundrum. How to explain Homeport to someone. You go to a perfect setting, and then have 5 courses thrown at you in less than an hour. But if you know what to expect, know what to eat-nothing else but a couple of boiled lobsters, then it is what it is , a perfect lobster shack. But it pains me to go there and see people there for a special occasion being treated like cattle. I go back there but I know what I am getting into.

                    This year I will miss the Cornerway, and will have to try Deon's. I hope he is still doing Island cooking, the jerk chicken and curried grouper he did at the Cornerway were always good. I liked it there. I hope the place that replaced it is good. But calling it a tavern in a dry town already has me asking questions. As MVI pointed out evidently The Catch at the Charlotte Inn is gone already and replaced Il Tesoro?, which I will have to try, because I absolutely love that space. It is so civilized.

                    I just hope that enough new places keep opening up, and some of my old favorites keep their game up, so I don't have to cook.

                    1. re: chrism23

                      I cannot believe how similar our experiences were at Outermost - right down to the deer! They treat us like humans every time we are there. How they can keep everybody's wine straight is amazing in and of itself.

                      To solve Home Port we now only order from the takeout window and eat out front. Same food for at least 1/3 less. And no hassles.

                      Someone recently said Detente's wine list was not so good. I feel the opposite. The selections may be less well known, but they can be eye opening.

                      Deon has a much better location now (well more foot traffic). Haven't been yet, but the menu sounds good. Alas, I think the prices are higher too.

                      About the Charlotte Inn. Maybe the classiest place on MV, but did they lose their souls when they stopped asking "gentlemen" to wear jackets at dinner?

                      Keep eating Chrism. You, FoodieJim, Sodagirl, and sometimes Scargod are the people I enjoy hearing from the most. You are all critical and never gush.

                      1. re: chrism23

                        I am just being random, just got back had a Great dinner at Mediterranean.Lattnanzi was good, our first time there. Does anyone rememeber the The Dog House just a little shack in Vineyard HAven near Black Dog.Black Dog has changed since it got so big. Art CLiff nice breakfast. our favorite is Dock Street, always good and hot!

                        1. re: bluefish4

                          The dog house had the BEST chowder on the island, but that was when I was 10, so a long time ago!

                  2. re: chrism23

                    Hi chrism23. I am so busy these days can't get to all of this fun Chowhound talk but the place at the Charlotte Inn is called Il Tesoro. Only open for dinner now but soon it will be for lunch. Looks good but I have not been. Also, it might be fun for you to check out the weekly clam bakes at the Menemsha Inn. Lobsters steak and steamers. On the lawn at 6 every Tuesday. $60 for adults and $20 for a "kids buffet"- not sure what that consists of. Do not know anyone who has been yet but it sounds like a good deal and sure is a pretty place. Another good up island choice, maybe.

                    1. re: mvi

                      Will Beach Plum be doing the cooking for this or one of the clambake companies? Seems expensive for what is essentially a buffet (unless it's all you can eat lobster which is doubtful)

                      1. re: thos

                        Guess I have been living here way too long when 60$ for a lobster and steak clambake with all of the usual sides sounds like a bargain,thos. I actually called them to get info as we want to go and the person at the desk said she was WAY too busy to talk to me and would not have time to talk until Monday. I asked if there was someone else to talk to and she said, no. So, there you go......Maybe someone else will have better luck!

                        1. re: mvi

                          Don't know if it means anything MVI, but except for the restaurant, the BPI and their other properties do not seem to be managed very well. The "no time to talk" comment sounds very familiar. I know someone planning a wedding at the BPI and they had a hard time working with whoever the manager is. Yeah, I think 60 is a lot, but you haven't been living there too long. I wish we all could be there for one lifetime.

                          1. re: thos

                            Ugh, I am guilty of one of my own biggest pet peeves - bringing up a place I have never been to! Note that I did acknowledge that BUT I never should have even mentioned it without going first. Never again. Hopefully someone here will go and report in on the food.

                            So far, my nicest summer meals have been in the homes of my friends, a fantastic breakfast at the Art Cliff and some take out sushi from the Net Result. Nothing too fancy, but so delicious.

                            So, I will continue to explore all of the Vineyard's different dining spots, both up island and down island, and have fun doing so. This is the time of year we love to think about when it is a cold February day with the wind blowing 30 knots and our options for good food are limited to a few take out spots, Offshore Ale, Sharky's and Mocha Mott's. And we do love them all for staying open year round.

                            Enjoy your visits to the Vineyard, everyone.

              2. Excellent fried clams, oysters, and chowder at Menemsha Bites, fried fish sandwich and onion rings at Sandy's/John's fish market in Vineyard Haven, and lobster rolls at the Grace Church in Vineyard Haven on Friday nights. I like eating on the cheap. Also get some blue fish at Larson's and throw it on the grill.

                1. The original comment has been removed
                  1. Some of our highlights from 10 days in paradise:

                    Shiretown Meats remains an unsung hero for sandwiches. His hot sandwiches are cooked fresh and everything is delicious (not to mention fairly priced). You've gotta love a deli that offers a sloppy joe sandwich. Try the beef jerky.

                    The Bite was outstanding on this trip. My husband and I shared an outrageous lunch consisting of a large order of fried clams & a bowl of chowder... yum!

                    Offshore Ale is a dependable and consistently good choice for dinner that leaves the whole family happy. I particularly love their roast chicken and meatloaf entrees.

                    We tried and enjoyed Ocean Club in Oak Bluffs, and couldn't grasp why it was so easy to get a table? Although it has a bit fancier decor than the surrounding restaurants, it still had a kids' menu and the food was quite good! I thoroughly enjoyed the mussels I ate as an entree. I hope this place makes it.

                    Back Door Donuts will always be on our list of deletable treats (although I am currently doing a modified fast to make up for over indulging!). Hot apple fritters... I am salivating as I remember how good they were.

                    We finally returned to Jimmy Sea's and it was as delicious and fresh as ever. The Frutti di Mare was a treat, as was my son's linguini with clam sauce.

                    Espresso Love is still a madhouse. Main Street Diner is hardly a better choice. $7+ for a simple bacon egg and cheese?? I don't think so!

                    We finally tried and enjoyed breakfast at the Right Fork Diner. It's no Art Cliff, but it's tasty nonetheless. We loved watching the biplanes take off / land as we waited for our table.

                    Espresso Love
                    17 Church St, Edgartown, MA 02539

                    Right Fork Diner
                    12 Mattakesett Way, Edgartown, MA 02539