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Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Co.

Whether you have a Vineyard home or a Vineyard hankering, the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company welcomes you with its unique interpretation of coastal cuisine. With a brasserie-inspired dining room located in Oak Bluffs just steps from two separate ferries, the Chowder Company treats their diners to first-rate food with inspirational touches.

Cape Cod Dining Guide

Starting off with a personal flair for bar offerings, diners find martinis and other cocktails turned on their ear and presented in creative ways not found elsewhere. We started with a Russian Standard Moscow Mule ($10) served in an icy copper captain’s cup, which can only be described as a mojito that blew ashore in Russia with a Dark ’n Stormy tail wind. The Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company also covers all the bases for any other thirst you may bring along with an impressive sampling of beers, in sizes from Pilsner to Half Yards as well as interesting wine choices from around the globe and, of course, oyster shooters.

We started our meal with a cup of the chowder ($8). Homemade chowder is not rare on a menu in these parts, but what is rare is that this is made from scratch in an open kitchen just feet away. With no hint of any base and no flour for those interested in gluten-free fare, this bowl of perfection has an impressive mélange of finely chopped clams, fresh herbs, and a gourmet cream base.

Cape Cod Dining Guide

No wonder they are able to boast a Best Of award. Make no mistake, no one is making chowder like this—bravo! Not to be content with mastering the chowder, chef/partner Alex Nagi has created an appetizer of “fried chowder.” With what might be too easily classified as a clam fritter, he has married childhood memories of fried dough with his award-winning chowder. These “ChoCos” ($9) are light, crispy, and simply delicious. Another unique spin comes with the lobster salad appetizer ($19). Served over a perfectly crisp, warm potato cake, the all tail, chilled lobster meat is dressed with a touch of fresh tarragon and homemade preserved lemon, drizzled with a basil oil.

Moving on to the main courses, the Fresh Seared Scallops ($26) are plump and tender served with a chef-inspired risotto. We were treated to a version that featured corn just picked from the field, fresh herbs, and a lovely finish of a white balsamic reduction that takes advantage of the ‘lemon jus’ produced from the preserved lemon.

Chef Alex told us the season and availability of ingredients inspires his daily risotto choices. I will definitely be seeking the butternut squash, cranberry version found in the cooler months. The Fresh Grilled Swordfish ($25), always a customer favorite according to our charming waiter, Chris, didn’t disappoint. Perfectly grilled and served over a delicate Yukon Gold puree with a sumptuous dill beurre blanc, the preserved lemon makes another appearance and with a few capers, wakes up your entire mouth. Specials included freshly caught striped bass accented by a refreshing sweet and sour ginger, served with corn salsa.

Wrapping up the evening wasn’t difficult with dessert of a flourless chocolate cake ($9), topped with a homemade espresso frozen custard and a mammoth choice of single malt scotches and cognacs. The hardest part was looking over our shoulder as we left and wondering when we would return.

—Christopher Bechler

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