Where else but Oak Bluffs can you discover Victorian gingerbread cottages painted in colorful hues, fashionable boutiques, fun-filled gift shops, the oldest operating carousel in the country, and great nightlife by the sea? It’s an eclectic, lively, and fun atmosphere. The same could easily be said about the Lookout Tavern on Seaview Avenue.
The Lookout Tavern sits atop a hill, offering the perfect vantage point to watch the comings and goings on two ferry docks and the aquatic canvas of Vineyard Sound. The restaurant itself is at once a sports bar, a family restaurant, after-work watering hole, and a sushi bar, all rolled into one, with the fresh scent of the sea wafting across the open-air deck all the way into the lofted dining and bar areas.
Beyond the wonderful view, the Lookout Tavern offers a menu with something for everyone: juicy burgers ($11) made from freshly ground beef out of Oak Bluffs’s own Reliable Market, all the trimmings for a classic lobster clambake, and a dizzying array of cocktails, including a few signature libations of particular interest. The Lookout Lemonade ($9) is a real thirst-quencher, served in a frosty mason jar with huckleberry vodka and fresh blueberries. The Elvis ($9), a frozen mudslide with a scoop of peanut butter and banana, is a memorable companion for an afternoon of people watching.
But on this day, my dining partner and I were in pursuit of sushi. Yes, sushi. And if sushi is as much a passion for you as it is for me, you won’t be disappointed at the Lookout Tavern. Steve Loo heads a cast of four engaging sushi chefs that are turning out fresh, creative, innovative creations. Our sushi adventure started with three of the Chef’s Special Maki rolls —the MV ($18), the Mango Tango ($20), and the Sumo ($19). Steve has certainly mastered sushi rice; his is the ideal combination of sweet and springy, forming a perfect base for these clever rolls.
The Mango Tango Roll was not only the star in terms of presentation: its textural quality and explosion of delicate flavors combined to make this roll our favorite. Filled with a house-made spicy yellowtail concoction, it features a ripe avocado expertly rolled and wrapped in a mango tobiko layer and dressed with a drizzle of creamy yuzu sauce, at once delicate and heady. This roll burst with the flavor of mango and yellowtail as it hit your mouth.
Next up: the Sumo Roll. A challenge to eat due to its volume, but well worth the effort for its thinly sliced cucumber rolled around fresh bluefin tuna, white tuna, salmon, avocado, chopped scallion, and tobiko topped with the yuzu sauce. The MV Roll, a unique selection that includes shrimp tempura on the inside, has a distinct crackle and pop owing to the tempura crunch.
At the Chief’s suggestion, we tried two selections of sashimi—local bluefin tuna ($7) and striped bass ($7). The sashimi was simple and unassuming in presentation, served with shredded daikon radish, lemon, and sprigs of mint. It caused our eyes to widen with delight as the bluefin melted upon our tongues with the sweet flavor of very fresh fish.
Our final treat at the sushi bar was unexpected. We asked our sushi chef about the Nigi Toro special ($18), and he graciously explained that the dish is a prized cut from the belly of the locally caught bluefin tuna. To our surprise, he presented us with a sample Nigi Toro maki roll with chopped scallions, and the sweet tuna combined with the sharp scallions rounded out our sushi feast. Needless to say, the sushi bar at the Lookout Tavern was flawless and a perfect end to our stay on the Vineyard.
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