Ramps (also known as wild leeks) are a springtime favorite among chefs and foodies alike. As one of the first green vegetables of the season they symbolize spring and the gastronomic delights to come. Chef Aaron Wratten of Lure Grill can’t wait to get his hands on a bunch of the long oniony-stalks and wilted green leaves. He hasn’t seen one, after all, in 20 years.
Ramps kick-off springtime cuisine in much of North America but they don’t grow in tropical Puerto Rico where Chef Wratten has been cooking for the past two decades.
Growing up in upstate New York, his family owned a restaurant and inn called The Horned Dorset, where he washed dishes, chopped vegetables, and occasionally worked on the line.
With the restaurant business in his blood, a young Mr. Wratton enrolled in Ferrandi, a culinary arts school in Paris. Graduation from culinary school coincided with the family’s expansion of The Horned Dorset. When they found the ideal property in Puerto Rico, the newly titled Chef Wratten set off to run the kitchen.
He doesn’t have a specific cooking style though he emphasizes the importance of having ample experience to draw upon in order to create something unique. “Cook what you know, and the more you know the more you can cook,” he says. He credits his own flair (rather than calling it “style”) to his French training and years in Puerto Rico as well as time spent working in New York at restaurants including Aureole and Daniel.
He praises chef de cuisine, Jason Borajkiewicz, as “The driving force behind the food.” Mr. Borajkiewicz has been in Lure’s kitchen in seasons past, and after working with Chef Wratten in Puerto Rico, the two reunited to create a new menu with original dishes.
The bar menu offers small plates and sides of familiar offerings with a twist, such as chicken nuggets dressed with black truffles, aioli, and sea salt. The 1 to 10,000 Mile Burger is Katama beef and braised Kobe short ribs with red wine onions on brioche. The Ramen Noodles are not your average .99-cent brick of dry noodles with the additive-laden flavor packets. Instead, the lush miso consommé holds a soft-boiled egg and confit of pork.
“We walk a fine line of serving spectacular quality food and also being a family restaurant,” he explains. The dining room, which overlooks South Beach, is bright and welcoming. A far corner houses a small area with picture books, small toys, and activity tables to entertain the little ones while the adults dine on food that is “local, familiar, and made with quality ingredients.”
The Collection of Beets is a fantastic spring salad with goat cheese fondue, local arugula, grape geleé, a medley of shaved and diced beets, dressed in a citrus vinaigrette.
The “Cream of Mushroom Soup” appears in quotations on the menu because it is more of an “alternate interpretation” of soup than what initially comes to mind. Foraged mushrooms and a sunny side farm egg seasoned with sea salt arrive in a soup bowl, into which the waiter pours rich cauliflower puree creating a dish reminiscent of the classic soup loaded with carefully prepared flavors.
The Yankee Pot Roast is a great example of the chef’s technique of “putting a spin” on a familiar dish. Kobe short rib melts in your mouth and is topped with bone marrow breadcrumbs and Bordelaise sauce accompanied by Thumbelina carrots, spring peas, and fresh garbanzo beans.
Stay for cheap
Lure Grill is located in Katama (Edgartown), in the Winnetu Oceanside Resort, and serves dinner Wednesday through Saturday starting at 6 pm. In mid-June, the restaurant opens seven days. A kid’s menu is always available for Lure’s younger set.
From now through May 14, the resort is once again offering its Islanders Stay for Free deal. Island residents may stay overnight in a one-bedroom suite and pay just the $25 cleaning fee after dining at Lure Grill, and ordering at least two adult entrees. The special offer is good for Wednesdays through Saturdays. Call 508-627-3663 for reservations.