Good Taste: Fried, fresh, and everything in between in Menemsha

The Bite

The picnic tables at The Bite look like they have had a fresh coat of bright blue paint for their reopening on May 21.

Jackie Flynn-Morgan, who helps her brother Michael Flynn and sister, owner Karen Flynn, run Menemsha’s famous clam shack is “really excited to be back for our 23rd season.” On the menu you’ll find the fried clams, fish sandwiches, and chowder that The Bite is known for as well as Mac & Cheese Bites for $4, coconut shrimp for $8.50 and (my favorite) fried jalapeñ;o poppers: halved jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese, then battered and fried, for $6.25.

“There’s not much new, but we’re back and as good as ever,” says Ms. Flynn-Morgan.

The Bite is open Monday through Friday, 11 am to 3 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to pm. At the end of June they will be open until sunset nightly.

Check out The Bite on Facebook and their new live webcam at mycampage.com/marthasvineyard.

Larsen’s Fish Market

Larsen’s reopened for the season on April 28, selling the freshest fish with insider tips on how to prepare it.

For a quick dinner, try the sole roll-ups with Christine Larsen’s special crabmeat stuffing.

The raw bar is serving oysters on the half shell, ($1.75 each) littlenecks and cherrystones ($1 each), as well as crab cakes, stuffed quahogs, stuffed scallops, clam chowder, and lobster bisque. If you’re lucky, you might find the Larsen’s patriarch Louis famous fish cakes on the menu. A Larsen family tradition, they make sporadic appearances at the market.

Island steamers and cooked lobsters are a dinner favorite to enjoy with a quintessential Menemsha sunset. So popular in fact, Betsy Larsen suggests you call ahead for those, especially in the evening.

In the market area, you’ll find rice crackers, tortilla chips, seafood fry mix, “lemonaise” fish marinade, tartar sauce, etc.

In the refrigerators, check out the smoked tuna ($13.99 per filet), lemon pepper smoked bluefish ($11.99 lb.) and an assortment of dips such as smoked clam, seafood spread, lobster dip, and salads like sesame seaweed, calamari, and edamame.

Stock up on frozen goods like minced clams, shucked quahogs, and chowder base, to make your own New England Clam Chowder at home.

Larsen’s is open seven days a week 9 am to 7 pm. Check them out at larsensfishmarket.com, on Facebook, or call 508-645-2680.

The Menemsha Café

The Menemsha Café has been holding down the fort all winter. They’re ready for the summer season with some changes and extended hours. Still serving favorites like the tenderloin breakfast burrito ($13.50), pulled pork sandwich ($10.95), and Menemsha cheese steak ($12.95) from 8 am to 3 pm daily, they are also serving dinner on Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

Toward the end of June, owner/chef Josh Aronie plans on serving dinner five nights, Wednesday through Sunday. The menu will include whatever looked good at the farms that week whereas Sunday’s menu will be a little more casual with a mix and match of ingredients plucked from various dishes. Some dinner standards include a taco plate, usually fish but occasionally with a different protein, and always the falafel. Entrees range from $18 to $28.

Don’t miss Josh’s wife Angela’s desserts and baked goods. There are usually cookies in the case at lunchtime, and the chocolate chip cookies are the perfect balance of cookie and chocolate. I’m always excited when the butterscotch cookies are available. She’s also lending her baking skills to the dessert selection at night. I’m told that her famous coconut cream pie will be making appearances.

Dinner is first-come first-serve so plan accordingly and don’t forget that Chilmark is a dry town, so bring your own beer, wine, or alcohol.

Mr. Aronie will fill your dinner plate with creative and delicious dishes but because of the Café’s very sensitive water system, he would greatly appreciate if that dinner plate were your own. If you really want to please the chef, bring your own silverware, glasses too, and napkins, and tablecloth. Picnic baskets are a familiar sight.

As the season picks up, look for Mr. Aronie’s Sunset Box Dinners To-Go. He’ll prepare and pack a dinner with a cheese plate, grapes, and bread or perhaps with a burrito. Just pick it up and be on your way.

Mr. Aronie regularly sources from Island farms like Blackwater, Beetlebung, and North Tabor. He is currently working on a lettuce wrap for his lunch menu, alternating between a vegetarian and beef version.

You can find the Café on Facebook or call 508-645-9902.

The Galley

The Galley is open! Your sandwiches and soft-serve await. The menu includes an impressive array of vegetarian options and classic salads like Greek and Caesar. For vegetarians, The Galley makes a veggie burger, eggplant sandwich, and white bean sandwich with roasted red peppers, artichokes, garlic-pesto and cheese ($6.50 to $6.95).

Then there are the standby’s: house-made chowder and gazpacho, burgers, fried fish sandwiches, grilled Swordfish sandwich, hot dogs, chicken fingers, and tuna melt ($5.15 to $7.25).

“We’re always adding something,” says owner Frank Fenner of his specials, like the spare rib dinner, which is available after 5 pm.

I love the first soft-serve of summer, and what better place than The Galley to indulge. There are no frills, just your classic vanilla, chocolate, and twist, though you can, if you are so inclined, have your ice cream dipped in a chocolate, strawberry, or chocolate peanut butter shell. If you prefer to drink your ice cream, have a frappe in vanilla, chocolate, coffee, strawberry, black & white, or mocha.

Whether you choose to eat in the small enclosure filled with picnic tables or on the rocks lining the harbor, the atmosphere is hard to beat.

The Galley is open Monday through Friday, 11 am to 3 pm; Saturday, 11 am to sunset; Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm. At the end of June they will serve food from 11 am to 8 pm and ice cream til 9 pm.

The Home Port

The Home Port is open with a brand new chef, Teddy Diggs, of Washington D.C.

Mr. Diggs is ready to take the iconic restaurant through their 81st season, serving traditional seafood fare.

Mr. Diggs knows that The Home Port is an Island staple and he knows what diners expect from it. With that in mind, he is ready to take the menu in a different direction. Don’t worry, there will still be fresh fish and steamed lobsters. Mr. Diggs’ vision is more of a nod to the past than a radical change.

“Eighty years ago,” he explains, “swordfish and cod were caught locally.” But because of overfishing, fisherman have to travel further, exerting more means and energy to catch those same fish. “Instead of keeping with the tradition of the menu, we’re keeping the tradition of using local product.”

He is determined to serve only locally caught fish and is working closely with Menemsha’s fisherman to make that possible. “We’re very dedicated,” says Mr. Diggs. The menu will change constantly according to availability, which means that instead of a set-in-stone menu, guests will find the day’s selection on a chalkboard, which can be more easily altered, since it’s not uncommon for Mr. Diggs to get a call at 6 pm from a fisherman en route with the day’s catch.

Mr. Diggs is also realistic about Menemsha’s fleet being able to provide for the entire restaurant. “If there’s something we can’t get here, we’ll go to Montauk, New York, or New Bedford,” though not much further than that.

The Home Port is open seven days from 5 to 9 pm. Appetizers range from $8 to $16, entrees $20 to $22. Starting on the 16th, The Backdoor will open at 11 am. Find The Home Port online at homeportmv.com or call 508-645-2679.