Monday, April 30, 2012

Nantucket's Dune

Dune Restaurant in Nantucket is a gem, a chic little place inside a restored colonial house not far from the harbor, with a posh bar, great service, and exquisite food. Packed to the brim on a Friday night, it's one of the island's "hotspots" for a reason: it has a great atmosphere.

When we arrived the hostess told us apologetically there would be a wait for our table, though we'd made reservations, and offered us drinks on the house while we waited at the bar! We tried a strawberry lemonade cocktail, tart and fresh, and a citrus concoction with a spicy kick of chili. The dining room is small and intimate, with low lighting and simple modern decor.

For the first course I chose the beet salad with whipped goat cheese and pistachios, which was artfully arranged to display the bursts of color: the ruby red and golden beets like jewels on the plate with the light and creamy goat cheese and crunch of bright green pistachios - I wanted to literally lick my plate clean.

For entrees we chose the yellowfin tuna tartare, juicy in a flavorful broth,

and the sea scallops, cooked perfectly. 

Finally we had a decadent chocolate sampler for dessert, with rich dark chocolate and orange pot de creme, spiced Mayan chocolate cake, and a light chocolate mousse with white chocolate wafers that melt on your tongue. It was an unforgettable meal.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brotherhood of Thieves

Tucked away in the basement of an old wooden house nestled in between shops is Brotherhood of Thieves, a historic pirate's pub on Nantucket island. With a dingy dungeon-like bar, "pub grub," and local brews on tap, Brotherhood lives up to its reputation as the go-to spot for locals and visitors alike.

Seated around wooden tables by exposed brick walls with flickering lanterns, diners feel relaxed in the inviting atmosphere. The friendly staff were happy to give tasting samples of local brews when we inquired about their selection, so we tried a few from Nantucket's Cisco Brewers: Bailey's Blonde Ale - crisp and grassy, Whale's Tale Pale Ale - rich honey with fruity hop aroma, and Grey Lady Wheat Beer - with a dry, spicy finish.

To pair with the beer we got fried calamari with a spicy chili sauce, fresh (but a little too saucy - I would have served the sauces as dippers on the side, so they didn't drown the calamari.)

One of the soups of the day was a Maryland crab soup, which had a tomato-based broth that we didn't really expect; the other soup of the day was a Wisconsin beer-cheddar soup.

The lobster bisque was divine, with a light puffed pastry on top, golden brown and studded with dill (but not an overpowering dill flavor, which I appreciated.)

The best part is breaking through the flaky crust with your spoon to discover the creamy soup beneath, filled with chunks of succulent lobster meat. This was the quintessential rich, guilty-pleasure dish.

Though overall the food at Brotherhood of Thieves is rather mediocre, the casual atmosphere, friendly staff, and classic New England pub experience made for a great lunch.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Petticoat Row

I discovered Petticoat Row Bakery in Nantucket this past weekend and fell in love. It has a charming old-timey feel and an array of sweet and savory baked goods to choose from, offering muffins, scones, cookies, decadent birthday cakes, you name it.

The spinach quiche was light and fluffy, with a creamy consistency light as clouds and laced with tasty greens, set in a flaky golden-brown crust. The cupcakes - which that day's selection included chocolate, coconut, and peanut butter cup piled high with Reeses and creamy peanut frosting - are enormous and rich, far better than the touristy cupcake shops you now find in New York and other cities. Sitting in the spring sunshine by a windowbox spilling over with daffodils and enjoying a fresh baked good, Petticoat Row just makes you happy. What else could one ask for?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Eggs

Easter eggs dyed by wrapping silk scarves around them and boiling them to imprint the designs on to the egg shells!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Grotto restaurant in Beacon Hill is definitely a date spot: a cozy, intimate basement setting with eclectic decorations create a funky ambience, and a decadent menu of Italian cuisine make for a great dining experience. We went for Boston restaurant week, indulging in the three-course pre fixe menu that features highlights from Grotto's repertoire, and having a proper Italian meal with the primi, secondi and dolce courses.

First, we selected the appetizers grilled calamari and fonduta, a fontina cheese fondue dish served with beef tenderloin and Portobello mushrooms, drizzled with aged balsamic and truffle oil:

This dish was every bit as lavish as it sounds, with the soft melted cheese served over a burning flame, and succulent pieces of mushroom that were just as rich as the meat:

(illuminating the mouth-watering mushrooms)

Other interesting appetizers on the menu include sweet potato ravioli with amaretti, brown butter and sage, and crab ravioli with asparagus, almonds, and saffron - I could come back to Grotto and feast on the primi course alone, frankly.

For the secondi course, I chose the pan roasted diver scallops "ravioli" with leeks, arugula and wild mushrooms:

The diver scallops were cooked to perfection and melt-in-your mouth rich, though the sheet of fresh pasta that topped the dish was not exactly "ravioli" (hence the quotes, I realized), and could have been cut into smaller pieces to be more effective on the dish. I would have happily welcomed more wild mushrooms on the plate as well, after the first course's incredible Portobellos that were so satisfying. This really was more of an arugula salad with really good scallops and unnecessary pasta, in my mind, making for an incongruent dish with tasty aspects to it.

The other entree was an apple-stuffed duck breast with crispy duck leg, prosciutto, dried cherries, with a black truffle oil-Madeira sauce, and parmesan potatoes:

The duck's two preparations contrasted the various cuts of meat, and the salty prosciutto, tart cherries and sticky-sweet sauce complimented the duck perfectly. The potatoes, like the pasta in the scallop dish, felt like an excessive afterthought, not as interesting as the other elements on the plate and just frankly didn't need to be there. Overall, still, a mostly successful dish.

For dessert we shared the lemon panna cotta with raspberry sauce and melting chocolate cake:

In a word: decadent.