Edgartown and Vineyard Haven here are chock full of restaurants, but those who venture to the far reaches of Martha’s Vineyard -- known as “Up Island” to the cognoscenti -- have few dining options.
Odd, given that each summer this remote section of the Vineyard becomes Hollywood East, with top show biz folks vacationing in luxurious homes secluded in the dunes: Meg Ryan, Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Jim Belushi, Larry David, Ted Danson and Mary Steenbergen and assorted screenwriters, directors and best-selling authors.
It is with a great anticipation, then, that Up Islanders welcome Chilmark Tavern to Beetlebung Corner in Chilmark.
Compounding the excitement is the arrival of Chilmark's executive chef, Paul O’Connell, whose acclaimed Chez Henri bistro in Cambridge, Massachusetts has racked up regional and national accolades for almost 15 years. O’Connell – leaving Chez Henri temporarily in the hands of his longtime chef de cuisine Mark Thompson – plans to open Chilmark Tavern at 9 State Road in late May.
Just weeks away from opening, new décor is being installed, staff is being trained, and O’Connell is testing the menu items he’ll be serving Up Islanders from late May until mid-October (like most island restaurants – service is seasonal).
“Chilmark Tavern will provide a laid-back atmosphere for gathering with friends,” says O’Connell. “Its simple, New England-style menu will combine locally-caught fish and shellfish with dishes created from the Vineyard’s bountiful farms. The concept I envision is Harvard Square’s Harvest meets Jasper White’s Summer Shack.”
Samples from the debut dinner menu include:
· New Bedford Style Baked Clams with sweetbreads and chorizo $15
· Ale-Braised Vealwurst with green tomatoes and brown bread $11
· Fulling Mill Farm Smoked Fish Platter $13
· Ceviche of Bay Scallops and Shrimp w/ avocado mousse, plantain chips $13
· Allen Farm Spring Lamb Two Ways $36
· Menemsha Harbor Catch of the Day MP
· Grilled NY Sirloin with Blue Cheese-Chive Butter $32
· Tuna Steak with Grapefruit BBQ Glaze and fennel-citrus salad $26
· Farm Cheese Tart with Lemon Cream and Blueberry Compote $9
· Passionfruit/Tangerine Creamsicle “Fribble” with sugar cookies $9
Like all Up Island establishments, Chilmark Tavern will be BYOB, with a variety of glassware and creative mixers available for those who do. Its raw honey/elderflower/ lemon elixir, for example, blends well with gin, cava or club soda. An abbreviated bar menu with quick fare like burgers and Cuban sandwiches will also be served.
The airy, 99-seat restaurant will serve dinner daily from 5:30 PM til 10 PM or later, and will accept reservations seven days a week. The restaurant is also accessible by the island’s convenient and reliable bus service.
I am a fan of Chef Paul O’Connell and Chez Henri so I expect his new endeavor will be just as good. If you are on the island this summer, it is well worth checking out the new Chilmark Tavern.