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Apr 16, 2011 11:09 PM

Nantucket: restaurant, foos and wine advice please

we are visiting Nantucket town and would like to know which restaurants, food shops and wine stores to visit and which to avoid. We care more about quality than price. Many thanks.

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  1. Ciclista will chime in when she gets back from Spain, no doubt. I love the Downyflake for donuts..hands down, the best in the area. I used to summer on Nantucket and went back year after year. I am long overdue so defer to others to speak to their recs.

    Downyflake Restaurant
    18 Sparks Ave, Nantucket, MA 02554

    2 Replies
    1. re: phelana

      I am going by last season as I haven't been yet this year.

      We enjoyed Center Street Bistro for breakfast and dinner very much.
      I liked Black Eyed Susan's for breakfast, my husband didn't care for it.

      Went to the White Elephant for Sunday brunch, very good but overpriced IMHO.
      Galley Beach has an outstanding view for sunset, food was not great, just good. Expensive, you are paying for the view.
      Had a surprisingly good cheese plate at the Brotherhood of Thieves with drinks.

      There was also a great place we got picnic fixings, but I can't remember the name (the bread was amazing.) I'm sure someone else will know.

      Not sure when you are planning to be there, some things may not be open.

      1. re: dennisl

        Dennisl...I think you are referring to Something Natural...50 Cliff road...definitely fill your picnic basket w/their sandwiches!

    2. avoid Black Eyed Susans and Brotherhood of the Thieves like the plague......

      The best thing WAS the corned beef hash at Mac's on Children's Beach...alas no longer (hence my screename).

      These are some reliable go to choices:

      Company of the Cauldron

      La Languedoc (get the lobster)

      The Pearl

      The Seagrille
      Brant Point Grille

      If you go to Something Natural, don't leave without checking to make sure the sandwich/order is correct..they screw it up 80% of the time

      11 Replies
      1. re: MacshashRIP

        Something Natural has NEVER screwed up our orders...been there a bazillion times...

        Something Natural
        50 Cliff Rd, Nantucket, MA 02554

        1. re: elle bee

          You didn't say when you are coming to Nantucket. Many places are opening this weekend as it is our unofficial kick-off to the season: Daffodil Weekend. There are some changes this year: Sfoglia has been taken over by the team that owns/runs Lola 41, and it will now be called Pazzo (they have a website and fb page). 21 Federal is (thankfully) no more and has been taken over by Amanda Lydon and Gabriel Frasca of Straight Wharf and it will be called Ventiuno (get it??). So, it looks like we will have 2 new Italian restaurants. I'm sure they will not be red sauce joints. Oh, and Cambridge St Victuals has been taken over by Jonas Baker of Slip 14, and I forget the new name.

          I like Black Eyed Susan's a lot. It is not cheap (nothing is here), but you have the illusion of getting a deal because it's BYOB. It is in a former diner with afixed swiveling stools, an open kitchen, and tables. So it is not a fancy atmosphere. I love the food, and they do offer half-size portions of some items.

          The Seagrille is ok, but it is nothing special. It is expensive and I feel like I am eating in an assisted living dining room. It's a good option in the winter. I have commented on these restos many times, so you can do a search. In a nutshell: Company of the Cauldron is good, but the concept is one menu per night, so everyone in the resto gets the same multi-course menu. They put it on their website a week in advance, so you can pick what you like. It's expensive, but good. Le Languedoc is an old favorite. Sit downstairs in the clubby, small bistro (if you can get a table or a seat at the bar) because then you can order from both menus. Stay away from the is nothing special, although that cheese plate and some wine sounds good! The Galley ("Galley Beach" is their new name...trying to sound like "Nikki Beach" a la St Barths??? Oh puh-lease...) is a fantastic atmosphere, right on the beach, but yes, as previously stated, you are paying for the view. Still, it's worth it once a year for me.

          Something Natural is great for takeout sandwiches, if expensive. A half sandwich is plenty big enough. But I do agree (somewhat) with Mac;s Hash, they screw up the order on a regular basis, but I wouldn't go so far as to say 80%!

          Good luck and report back!

          21 Federal Restaurant
          21 Federal St, Nantucket, MA 02554

          Company of the Cauldron
          7 India St, Nantucket, MA 02554

          Straight Wharf Restaurant
          6 Harbor Sq, Nantucket, MA 02554

          Lola 41
          15 S Beach St, Nantucket, MA 02554

          Slip 14
          14 Old South Wharf, Nantucket, MA 02554

          Sfoglia Restaurant
          130 Pleasant St, Nantucket, MA 02554

          Something Natural
          50 Cliff Rd, Nantucket, MA 02554

          1. re: ciclista

            Hey, thanks. Clearly you care and have taste.. We go on Saturday, I'll bring a sharp knife in case, (Gustaf Emil Ern, since you ask) but we plan to read books, drink wine and eat out. Will report back.

            1. re: Belsize

              Tge new name of Cambridge St Victuals is 12 Degrees East. They have a website. Looking forward to the report.

              1. re: ciclista

                OK been here 24 hours, so am expert. We got to Nantucket, bags were still on vacation in Logan. Arrived later.

                Dinner in Brant last night. Not worth the journey, (500 yds). Cool welcome, "you are early", good table, breadcrumbs liberally strewn inside menu, no idea what Gruner Veltliner was, (even though it was one of a few White wines served by the glass), it may have been my English accent. Nothing was exceptional, the mussels in particular were served in a thin, metallic broth, devoid of richness of flavour or any sens of the sea. The best thing was the garlic mashed potato, a very bad sign for the rest of the food.

                The piano player in the bar was good, the singer poor, but important. The two La Salles outside, a woody and a convertible were really good.

                Bought some wine in Murray's, poor selection, too much mindless Australian, and did not smell of wine. Tavel Rosé good. Will tell you about the others when sampled.

                Is it my imagination or is Nantucket secretly run by Disney? It just does not feel old but recently remade to look old. Or am I just accustomed to Europe where they are too poor and too idle to make every building a dolls house?

                1. re: Belsize

                  I had to laugh at your Disney comment!
                  Most buildings there are actually authentic, just very well maintained (lots of $ on the island.)
                  Looking forward to more food reports, I hope the luggage joins you soon.

                  1. re: dennisl

                    I agree with your comment on the Disneyfication of the island. Yes, "most" buildings really are old, but even the new ones are forced to follow rigid standards to appear old and must be approved by the Historic District Commission before you can get your building permit.

                    But back to food: I had brunch at the Boarding House yesterday and it was wonderful! We had a Mediterranean-type antipasto that was served in a foot and a half long silver tray. It had black olives, feta, kibbe, parsnip puree, and fried chick peas. We also had a pizzetta with proscuitto and arugula, and Lobster Benedict. To die for.

                  2. re: Belsize

                    Gruner is a pretty popular Austrian white: lots of acid, crisp, seafood-friendly, often with a bit of spritz.

                    1. re: invinotheresverde


                      While I don't particularly love Gruner, it seems to have become the "it" wine of good restaurants and sommeliers over the last 5 years.

                      As for the OP's Australian comment I will add this: I have been to Australia to visit the wine regions - - - I hit Barossa, McLaren, Coonawarra, Adelaide, and the Yarra. Lots of good stuff. But not much of it makes its way to the states. I read a quote in Wine Spectator (I believe by Matt Kramer) several years ago that went something like this: Australia makes a lot of great wine - - - but they keep it to themselves.

                      I couldn't agree more. We get the syrupy critter wine instead.

                      As a note on the food, I'm really sorry to see Sofoglia go. We went there last year for the first time and loved it for their fresh pasta. I wonder if their not-downtown location was part of their undoing.
                      Also, 21 Federal was the first restaurant that we ever ate at on Nantucket - - - probably 8-10 years ago - - - and we loved it. I think we went back once soon thereafter so I can't weigh in on their recent quality - - - but I will miss it for sentimental reasons.

                      I'll be interested to get some reports on the new places that took over those 2 locations.

                      21 Federal Restaurant
                      21 Federal St, Nantucket, MA 02554

                      1. re: foleyd7

                        Re: Sfoglia- I do not believe that their non-downtown location had anything to do with their demise. That can actually be a huge plus for those of us who don't have the stomach to sit in traffic jams and circle and circle, looking for a spot (in the summer). It was a combination of things: overextended with the NY operation, floated by slent partner investors who decided to pull the plug (I believe), maintaining 2 households in separate states with 3 kids, dissolution of a marriage & partnership. I will miss it. Great food, and the best bread in the world.

                        21 Federal jumped the shark in the mid-nineties and was coasting on its laurels for many years. It was at its height in the mid-late 80s when Bob Kinkead was chef. It had the death rattle going for a few years...tired, pricey, in need of a good facelift and overhaul. It was a sentimental favorite for me, too but I just couldn't go there anymore after the mid-90s.

                        Glad to hear the good report on Brick Bistro as it is brand new! The Jared Coffin has had no real restaurant there for a few years.

                        21 Federal Restaurant
                        21 Federal St, Nantucket, MA 02554

                        Sfoglia Restaurant
                        130 Pleasant St, Nantucket, MA 02554

                      2. re: invinotheresverde

                        I may have misunderstood your post to mean you don't know what GV is. On second read, it sounds like the restaurant didn't know. Sorry if I've interpreted incorrectly.

          2. Three things: a very good new restaurant, the rise of Gruner and thankyou for the lunch recommendation.

            Last night we went to The Brick Bistro, in the Coffin House on Broad St. The entrnance is round the side, unsigned so far because of Planning. Very assured and accomplished food. The amuse was butternut squash puree with cranberries, then belly pork with Thai influence, tender yet crisp and still porky, oysters with a sauce that actually helped the flavour rather than masking it. Steak frites, meat with depth of texture and taste, good French fries, quail and scallops, a clever and delicious combination. The wine list is short, inexpensive and wide-ranging. We enjoyed the Languedoc White and Oregon red. The room was a relief from the Olde Pastiche, it looked modern, felt comfortable and had a good buzz. Do try to go. It may change as this is only it's 4th day and be ovverun with "locals who lunch" a good target market but not a prime food audience.

            I agree Gruner is the wine of the moment, along with Vignonier. I guess after ABC something had to happen, both are comfortably obscure, have real local pedigree and are still only made by talented winemakers. They are a pleasant change from over demanding Sav Blanc and over embracing Chardonnay. The Modern at MoMA offers First Blush Vigonier from Long Island. Surprisingly good.

            In my experience the most refined Australian wines, (many of which do get the UK, same Queen helps) come from The Margaret River in Western Australia. It has a more Medditeranean climate then the bigger regions.

            Off to try a new wine merchant before it rains.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Belsize

              Sfoglia - you are right about the bread, otherwise I found it a bit cramped and they were less than welcoming - more of an attitude that they were doing you a favor. Better food and atmosphere was had over at Cinco (also now gone), particularly if you skipped the tapas fare and ordered off the main course selections.

              As far as Aussy wines, Foleyd is right.....though if you know what to buy, you can find some here in the U.S. that represent the top level of quality. The best Aussy wine, IMO, is as good as it gets anywhere in the world (First Growths, Single Vinyard Rhones, Cali cults included) unless you are a Burgundy purist type.

              It's hard to pin down a single consistent restaurant on Nantucket that always delivers. It's much more hit and miss, with ethereal dining experiences popping up on seemingly random occasions and times.

              1. re: MacshashRIP

                Well said, Mac. My DH refused to go to Sfoglia because of the attitude of the owner (who worked front of the house). But I could ignore it and enjoy the food. Why is it so hit and miss out here? Languedoc is pretty consistent...

                Sfoglia Restaurant
                130 Pleasant St, Nantucket, MA 02554

            2. Thankyou all for your very helpful comments. We are now back and have had time to reflect. Not sure we would visit again, so much else to see, so carefully manicured and so commercially priced.

              We ate twice at Black Eyed Susans, the chef is very accomplished ( if a little taciturn) the service was good and they were still accepting reservations before the high season line begins. The food was so good we added extra courses so aa to sample more of the range avaliable. We bought our wines from current Vintage, a clothes shop on Easy Street, they have an eclectic, well priced and
              varied selection, you are bound to find something interesting there.

              Languedoc was good, it's constancy comes (I think) from the proprietor, who we met, seeing it as a business as well as a passion, so better control over the processes of dining not just the content.

              The Boarding House was equally good, a romantic room, an involving wine list and charming service. Possibly helped by our waitress also working at current Vintage, where she took our booking.

              Centre Street Bistro was a conundrum. The music was very good, the chef fascinating, ( a blues and jazz musician by choice) but his cooking led him into over complication. So the dishes were attractive but too "noisy", for example there was no need to add a swordfish steak to a perfectly good seafood risotto. So worth a visit, but be prepared to be overwhelmed.

              Thankyou all again for your comments and advice. Next a long weekend at The Finger Lakes.

              1. As a Bostonian who has lived in Australia for 15 years now, I can tell you that you can get any number of great 90+ wines for less than $25, and drink much better here at a reasonable price than in the States nowadays....You are right about what you can get in US bottle shops, though. Mostly the generic low price stuff unfortunately.

                Travelling from Sydney to Nantucket this summer and have a few q's on restaurants:
                1) What is one of the best "traditional" Nantucket rest experiences? In my mind, I've always wanted to eat a New England meal on Main St in one of the old Inns. Anything fit this description (of course, quality food is a prerequisite)?
                2) We are travelling with a 13 and 11 year old. They are used to eating at "good' restaurants so don't want the kid's menu/chicken and pasta meal, but alternatively don't want escargot and lobster (nor do we want to drop all our $'s on that for them!). Any ideas on what restaurants allow mom and dad to have a great meal, but allow the kids to get something good, but more suitable for non-gourmands?