Good Taste: Off-season lunchtime in Vineyard Haven

Good Taste: Off-season lunchtime in Vineyard Haven

Lunch, as a meal, doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. For a lot of people, the midday meal means a quick sandwich in the car, or maybe it’s skipped altogether, replaced with a ravenous, impatient hunger for dinner.

In Spain, lunch (la comida) is the biggest and most celebrated meal of the day. Many Spaniards (and other Europeans as well) have a two- to three-hour break starting around 2 pm to enjoy a large meal. La comida can be composed of several courses, beginning with a salad or soup followed with a protein (fish or meat), and wrapping up with a sweet pastry, cake, or fresh fruit with coffee or tea. If this style of mid-day eating, with lots of choices, appeals to you, head to some of Vineyard Haven’s many restaurants now serving lunch.

The Little House, which opened this past summer, offers lunchtime fare such as the Nicoise salad. Originally from the French Riviera and popularized in America by Julia Child, this salad is composed of tuna, baby potatoes, haricot vert (French for green beans) hard-boiled eggs, and a herb vinaigrette. For a heartier meal don’t miss the lamb burger, tossed with fresh herbs and topped with grilled eggplant and creamy tzatziki.

At Waterside Market you will find everything you need for a multi-course luncheon. For the salad choose from Caesar, Cobb, Greek, and other specials. With more than a dozen sandwiches to choose from, settling on one may be a challenge. For the carnivore, the French Quarter is hearty: House-roasted beef with Brie served warm on fresh-baked bread with lettuce, tomato, and red onion. Or for the veggie-hungry there is the grilled Portobello with roasted red pepper, red onion, sprouts, and cheddar with artichoke relish served on whole wheat bread. On the side, try the ready-made couscous, potato, pasta, or fruit salad. If a pick-me-up is what you are looking for after a big lunch, Waterside has coffee and espresso galore. For some sweetness, try the honey latte or for a bolder, more unusual treat, the butterscotch white mocha.

The Scottish Bakehouse always has a tempting array of treats staring you in the face when you walk through the door, like the chocolate pudding parfaits with chocolate Grenache and peanut butter, or the lime snowballs — dense, buttery cookies laced with lime zest and topped with powdered sugar. But before you concede to the dessert case, try a Meatball Hero made with beef from Blackwater Farm, or the Sausage (also from Blackwater Farm) and Tomato Ragout with root veggies and Gemelli pasta. There are always a couple of soups on special and a case of prepared dishes to take on-the-go such as roasted beets, hummus, and orzo salad. You can also pick up local farm eggs or a loaf of homemade bread.

At Zephrus, with a few friends you can create an entire meal with salads and small plates. Start with a beet salad, served with baby spinach, herbed goat cheese, and a Dijon-shallot dressing, or build your own salad with add-ons such as chicken, salmon, steak tips, shrimp, or chicken salad. Next, as if you were in a tapas restaurant in Andalusia, try the house-made hummus and olives or the sautéed calamari served with a spicy tomato dipping sauce, or maybe the mussels in a garlic white wine broth, served with chorizo and plum tomatoes.

Beetlebung offers a variety of aptly named paninis, (sandwich in Italian). The Athena is feta, baby spinach, tomato, and black olive spread pressed between slices of fresh flatbread. The Anchorage: wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon with cream cheese, capers, and red onion served on a bagel.

The Black Dog Café has a salad or sandwich for every appetite in a laid-back atmosphere. Try the tuna salad seasoned with dill, tarragon, and sunflower seeds served on a grilled croissant with greens, tomatoes, and onions. The fried mac-and-cheese bites, though technically on the kid’s menu, is served with honey mustard dipping sauce.

The Net Result has offerings when you need a change from typical lunch fare. Steamed clams and mussels, shrimp cocktail, stuffed quahogs, crab cakes, steamed lobsters, and more might trick you into thinking it’s summer. Fried seafood plates are available and in mid-February when the sushi chef returns, treat yourself to specialties such as the Dragon Roll — shrimp tempura with avocado — or the Martha’s Vineyard — tuna, salmon, yellowtail with avocado and spicy sauce, topped with tobiko (flying fish roe).

A two-hour break in the middle of the day might be unlikely for most, but from a different vantage point, lunch may take on a new level of importance, and perhaps, pleasure. Additional lunch spots are ArtCliff Diner, Rocco’s, and Tropicale.