by Rick Conti
Restaurants tend to be ephemeral things, even on the bastion of tradition that is Martha’s Vineyard. One day they’re here, the next day you’re wondering, “What happened to my favorite salmon dish?” At this time of year when we bid farewell to the bustling season and welcome in the quiet season, let us consider long lost culinary friends and usher in new Vineyard foodie destinations. Who knows what the coming new year will bring?
First, Ghosts of Restaurants Past.
Once there was The Navigator in Edgartown. The food was acceptable, the ambiance enjoyable, and the view incomparable, situated as it was literally on the water. It’s hard to get too wistful about the loss because its replacement, The Atlantic Fish & Chop House is an improvement on almost all counts. Except the view. It’s still merely incomparable.
The most mercurial of all establishments was Lola’s of Oak Bluffs. I have a particular fondness for their unique spin on Cajun cuisine. The variety of pre-meal breads was fabulous and their Cajun angel hair onion rings are the stuff of Legend. I’ve never tasted their equal before or since. One season, Lola’s just disappeared, onion rings and all.
The next season, the Mediterranean, a highly touted Italian eatery originally in Vineyard Haven, was in Lola’s Beach Road location. If you blinked you missed them, however, because Lola’s was back the next season. They didn’t last as long as a plate of their onion rings in that second incarnation. Hooked (“An Island Fish House”) is there now. If that site’s track record is any indication, you might want to visit soon.
Edgartown saw Water become Atria and Dunes morph into Lure. The Tuscany Inn was replaced by the relocated l’etoile. And that’s just a small sampling.
(In a hazy dream, I vaguely recall a Subway somewhere on the island. Maybe it was just a nightmare. In any case, it’s not around now, and no one would mourn its passing.)
On to the new…
The Island abhors a restaurant vacuum, so new places are constantly popping up to replace the old. This season saw at least three new restaurants in Edgartown alone. David Ryan’s was a popular Edgartown hangout that closed after 2011. But do not despair, because 11 North is a worthy successor. From personal experience, I can tell you that their burger is excellent and the fries are superb. (For further fry musings, see my previous post. [add link]) My wife derived tremendous comfort from their comfort food selection of tomato soup and grilled cheese. Word has it that they serve awesome homemade tater tots. Eat your heart out Napoleon Dynamite!
Lucky Hank’s is the (in my opinion regrettable) name of a new place on Upper Main Street. The converted home now serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner all year. The pancakes that I had during a recent breakfast there were among the best I’ve had anywhere. Speaking of ill-chosen names, The Port Hunter occupies the space once home to the shop, “In the Woods”.
One has to wonder, however, whether naming a restaurant after a shipwreck is tempting fate in such a capricious business.