08 Oct 2013

Nantucket Happy Meal

Anna Thomas, the highly acclaimed author of several cookbooks, including the popular “Love Soup” once said, “We all eat and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.”  When you’re lucky enough to visit or live on Nantucket the odds are incredibly slim you’ll ever stumble across a bad meal. Our little island boasts more high end eateries and brilliant chefs per capita than almost any place in the country (and possibly the world).  While they burst at the seams and book well in advance during the busy summer season, the local restaurants bring it home during the shoulder season when they showcase specialty prix fixe menus to encourage residents and visitors alike to answer the dinner bell and gather friends and family around the table for a Nantucket happy meal.

This fall’s Restaurant Week was one for the record books (at least at my house). With a jam-packed summer work schedule that left us too busy (or too tired) to frequent many of the fabulous restaurants, my husband Dan and I made sure to snag prime tables at three of Nantucket’s finest eateries last week. We munched on Duck Confit Carbonara (doesn’t it just sound decadent?) at Le Languedoc on Tuesday, celebrated our anniversary with Wok Fried Lobsta (I wanted to lick the plate) at The Pearl on Thursday and wrapped up the week with friends savoring Pumpkin Chowda and an Apple and Burnt Cinnamon Galette (not your mama’s apple pie!) at Straight Wharf on Saturday.  Each dish and every meal was as good as the one before and each left me amazed and grateful to live in a place with such a wide variety of culinary talent.

The abilities and hearts of Nantucket’s chefs and restaurant owners extend beyond the walls of their beautifully decorated dining rooms. The Inquirer and Mirror this week reported that several of Nantucket’s restaurants (including Ventuno and Boarding House) foster camaraderie and teamwork by serving “family meals” to their staff before the doors open each evening. Several island chefs invest in the local youth by mentoring students of the Nantucket High School culinary program and participating in the Junior Chef competition that took place at Cisco Brewery this past Sunday. Just last evening, several of the island chefs joined forces to serve attendees a delectable three course meal with all proceeds going to benefit the Nantucket Food Pantry.  The masterful creations these culinary artists serve up are extraordinary, but the creative ways they find to utilize their talents to benefit Nantucket and “pay it forward” is equally impressive.

The Nantucket restaurant scene stays vibrant all year long with many of the restaurants remaining open through the winter and offering specials to entice the local residents and visitors to step “out to dinner.”  2 for 1 Sushi Sunday at Lola 41, $10 Chicken dinners from Pazzo, $5 burger night at Met on Main, 3 courses for $25 at Town and Queequeg’s and 3 courses for $15 at Fifty-Six Union are just a few of the options that help ensure Nantucketers and island guests will have a menu of affordable dining selections during the off-season.  If you missed this year’s restaurant week, or if you’re just in the mood for some fine Nantucket fare, make plans now to reserve a table someday soon at one of your favorite island bistros where you’re guaranteed to have a gastrointestinal extravaganza.

Worth the weight.

Shellie Dunlap

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