Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Summer House, Nantucket

Oh Todd English...you certainly are a charming one aren't you?  Just when I had all about written you off after some lackluster dining experiences, you go and surprise me.  It was just this past April when Boston Magazine took it upon itself to issue it's break up letter to you on behalf of the city.  I read every word of that letter, I chuckled, and I agreed.  I echoed it's disgruntled prose on you being absent from the kitchens of Boston.  I felt it's abandonment as you have found yourself bigger, more exciting markets.  A few days later, I laughed again, at your supposed response listed on Boston.com calling the city out for it's insecurities, our romanticism.  I, like a scorned girlfriend, laughed a bit too loudly at your remarks, outwardly casting them aside as utterances of an ignorant man, but inside wondering if they were true.  Either way, I proceeded on with my life, resolved to cut ties with Mr. English, and find new and better chefs to fill my needs.  This weekend however, as I enjoyed the pure beauty of Nantucket's quaint villages and picturesque shoreline, I found myself thrown deeply back in love with Todd English.

Tucked away in the tiny community called Sconset lies a hotel and restaurant bearing the name The Summer House.  Here, with it's majestic views, and private spaces, contains one of the newer Todd English restaurants, taken over just a couple years ago.  My party and I gathered, a bit early, in the lounge of the restaurant, and, seated next to a beautiful grand piano which would later produce wonderful dinner music, we enjoyed a cocktail.  I selected a dark and stormy- a wonderful mix of ginger beer and dark rum- my favorite summer time drink.  The warm and spicy mix of the cocktail warmed me to my surroundings and its relaxed, white, beachy ambiance relaxed me into its hospitality.  

Once we were shown to our table, and menus presented, I found that I had a very difficult time selecting my meal.  I bantered back and forth between starting with an interesting sounding Caprese Salad which included a basil ricotta, or selecting the Beef Carpaccio.  I finally landed firmly on the Carpaccio and was treated to a beautiful dish of perfectly rare beef, sliced to a paper thin perfection, well salted and peppered and then drizzled with a truffle vinaigrette and balsamic vinegar.  This was a perfect rendition of carpaccio.  The truffle vinaigrette was thick and creamy, and while it had the flavor of luxurious truffles, it didn't overwhelm the rest of the dish.  The balsamic played similarly, punching in notes of sweetness, but not overtaking the dish.  I adored this dish.  

As a note, our table also enjoyed two platters of Vineyard oysters- these were also perfection.  Briney and sweet, these chilled oysters were easy to enjoy, and were actually a pleasure to the palate.

I had an equally difficult time choosing my entree as I did my appetizer, but finally settled on their Halibut, served with prosciutto over the top, and resting on a blue cheese yogurt sauce.  The flavor combination within this dish was outstanding.  I ordered it based almost solely on the blue cheese yogurt component (I'm such a sucker for interesting ingredients), but was enthralled with all of it.  The halibut, a meaty white fish, had delicate, yet clean flavors, and when paired with a slightly smoky, salty prosciutto- the fish was elevated to the next level.  The real beauty here was adding in that yogurt sauce to each bite.  The sauce had the tang of yogurt, with just hints of that stinky blue cheese to it, both flavors playing together in harmony.  I had anticipated one being much stronger than the other, but the result of perfect proportions here allowed them work together and complement the fish, while still allowing the natural fish flavor to shine. This was a perfectly executed dish.  

I ended my meal with orange panna cotta.  Now it takes a lot for me to steer myself away from a molten chocolate cake (a LOT), but just a couple of bites into this delicate dish and I was glad I had chosen it.  Creamy panna cotta, offset with natural orange sweetness comprised a perfect end to my meal.

I walked in to The Summer House, cocky, and daring them to impress me.  I laughed at the name Todd English and thought "that guy? He's yesterday's news".  I entered with my head held high, believing that Boston Magazine had done us all a favor by breaking up with him.  I left, rather begrudgingly after an evening of delicious food, bounteous wine, and wonderful company, wondering if I sent him a box of chocolates if he'd take us back.  Chocolates and a bottle of wine...or two?    

1 comment:

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

Dark and Stormies are my favorite in the summer! I can imagine it was perfect on Nantucket. Looks like you've been having a great summer!

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