Straight Wharf - Dishin' It out!
Straight Wharf, one of Nantucket’s longest fine dining establishments has been in operation for 40 years and I loved it last week!
I was late for dinner this evening, I’m rarely late for anything, but this night I had over booked my afternoon and was, ok, here’s the truth, 17 minutes late for dinner. Since Comcast had chosen to shut down all the phone lines for hours, I couldn’t even call to apologize, but my dining companion arrived on time and was able to explain my tardiness. She sat in the far left corner as you enter this large lovely open dining area. Right off the bat, I wasn’t thrilled with the location of the table even after given a warm welcome from Chris and the staff. I felt stuck in a corner on this beautiful night and to top that off the table next to us had a baby in a highchair who had already chosen to scatter his dinner on the floor along with a cloth napkin. Not a good impression for a fine dining restaurant. I did not want to sit in a corner next to a baby who might, just might choose to have a tantrum at some point.
I requested a table out on the patio and was quickly escorted through the dining room and whisked to a perfect seat with a glorious view of the harbor and cloudless sky. I told our hostess she gets an A+ for the night no matter what was to follow, she smiled. I have only dined at Straight four a handful of times in 20 years. Unfortunately, the last time was not good, so I was looking forward to a fresh perspective.
Seth, our waiter was exceptional. He introduced himself, offered us something from the bar and menus followed promptly. As we sat and soaked in the breathtaking view, the ferry for Hyannis departed and the whistle blew reminding me of this special place we call home. I ordered a beer. I rarely drink, but I had a tough week and felt I deserved not only the calories that I would intake, but the smooth cold, feeling of a good beer going down my throat and eventually making me feel a bit warm and fuzzy. On Seth’s recommendation, I chose something called a Sixpoint Crisp. So good, just so good. We were offered a small container of Straight Wharf’s signature smoked bluefish pate with a few toasted crostini’s which was lovely, creamy and not overpowering. A nice touch to the meal besides the homemade baguette that they were also offering.
Shortly after our beverages arrived, Seth proceeded to answer our questions about the menu and I was in awe of his knowledge of everything. Not just how the entrees were cooked, but actually how they were presented. He was the most professional waiter I have ever encountered at any restaurant. You could tell he actually took interest in every aspect of what he would be serving you that night. I thought, “man, can we clone this guy?” Turns out he was born and raised in Rome, but his parents are American and he just moved back to the states and chose Nantucket. Lucky Straight Wharf! You got a winner there.
So let’s talk about the menu. To start, I chose the Spanish octopus puttanesca with roasted cherry tomatoes, capers, kalamata’s, smashed yukon gold potatoes. The presentation was not what I had envisioned, but creative. Pushed to one side of the plate and I don’t know if this was intentional or not, where two 8-inch octopus’s tentacles sitting beside a narrow but fulfilling row of mashed potatoes and puttanesca (a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, olives and anchovies) was wonderful. My friend ordered the salad of three basils, baby spinach, pickled lemon, marcona almonds. The salad on the other hand did not have a great presentation. The full basil leaves gave it a burst of flavor, but there could have been another element to give it life. Maybe red onion, cherry tomatoes, feta, anything and it could have had more of the lemon.
Now onto the entrees…we had a hard time making our choices because Seth had done such a good job of describing everything. He helped us make excellent choices with the Harpooned swordfish and Dayboat scallops.
There was plenty of time between the completion of our appetizers and our entrees being delivered. This is something I look for in a good restaurant with good service because I don’t like to be rushed. I understand that they have to turn over the tables, but one should never feel like cattle, shuffled in and out. Timing was perfect and the atmosphere very relaxing.
I was so excited to see the presentation of the entrees and you should know by now that it takes a lot to WOW me, well, let’s just say, Straight Wharf does not disappoint. Placed in front of me was a mint green speckled rectangular plate. It was colorful and the individual elements on each plate complimented each other beautifully. Sitting in front of me was harpooned local swordfish, radicchio, baby carrots, golden raisins, pine nuts and spiced yogurt. The carrots slow roasted and caramelized, onions, plumb warm raisins and sitting on top of this crisscrossed grilled swordfish was a parsley lemon garnish.
The second entrée was the Dayboat sea scallops and they were huge. The plate was pale grey with speckles, roasted yellow patty pan squash, snow peas, corn, curried squash and cashew coconut-lime puree. Now tell me, what of this does not sound absolutely heavenly? It was so pretty, not a word I often use, but it was, pretty. The scallops perfectly seared on each side then cooked to perfection a top all these tasty ingredients. Straight Wharf was winning me over with every plate and every bite.
Before we even ordered our entrees, Seth asked if we thought we might be having dessert because they had a special tart for the night which needed to be ordered with the entrees. We went for it immediately and also chose what they call the Chocolate candy bar. Although we were almost stuffed, I was not going to pass up the opportunity to taste the desserts. All the other courses had been exceptional. Could the dessert literally be the icing on the cake?
The peach and blueberry galette with lemon verbena ice cream arrived steaming hot in a light flaky puff pastry topped with the lemon ice cream melting over the sides of this fruity baked delight. When I cut into one side, the ice cream flowed like a stream over the pastry and exposed its inner goodness with the smells of fresh peaches and blueberries filling my nostrils. It was sweet aromatherapy at its best and oh, was it tasty. My friend was eager to taste this until she focused on her dessert in front of her. The Chocolate candy bar was a rich dark chocolate bar sitting atop a caramel sauce with sea salt and several gold peanuts, not kidding here, the peanuts were dusted in gold giving this dessert a sparkle to insure you understood that it was rich. Rich in flavor, color, presentation and was making a statement. Alongside the bar was a soft ball of chocolate sorbet.
Extremely rich and too much for my friend, she begged for a taste of my galette. I eagerly switched as I was once a chocoholic. I could say I am an expert on chocolate. There were so many textures going on here and I was having fun making the perfect bite with each element. I will admit, I did not finish this desert as it was very rich, but took it home for a late treat. This is definitely a dessert that could be shared.
Rarely do I discuss the bill, but I have to tell you, even with the beverages and tax, I thought it was fair and worth every cent. We each had three courses, the view was breathtaking, the waiter could not have been nicer and more knowledgeable, and the entire experiences was, well, perfect. I can’t wait to go back to Straight Wharf. It’s a winner in every aspect in my book! Bravo, bravo!
Ratings: Atmosphere - 5 dishes, Service – 5 dishes, Food – 5 dishes!
Dishin’ It Out has a passion for food on Nantucket.
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