Good Taste: Desserts at Vineyard restaurants

How many times have you come to the end of a meal and stopped the waitress, dessert menus in hand, dead in her tracks, waving your hands in defeat because you couldn’t possibly eat another thing? I did some research and chose a signature dessert from just a handful of restaurants (there are plenty more to try) to fill you in on what you might be missing.

Espresso Love

From 5 to 9 pm, seven days a week, Espresso Love stows away the coffee pots and pastries in place of a casual evening menu with cocktails like the Asian Mojito with sake, mint, lime-juice, and fresh ginger. Starters include lobster dip with toast points, four varieties of Bruschetta such as tapenade, goat cheese, grape tomatoes, and caramelized onions. For dinner choose from nightly specials as well as sandwiches, personal pizzas, and entrée salads like endive, Gorgonzola, toasted walnuts and balsamic topped with grilled steak for $15.

Whatever you decide, I recommend reserving space (in belly and brain) for the Tableside S’mores, a dessert experience. The S’mores fixings, marshmallows, graham crackers, and a Hershey’s chocolate bar, are portioned for two or four people ($10 and $15 respectively) and laid out on a platter for you with flame gel and grill covering allowing you to toast the marshmallows to your liking, a big hit with little ones and grown ups alike. Espresso Love is located on Church Street, in the parking lot behind the courthouse in Edgartown. They open daily at 6:30 am.

Détente

Chef Kevin Crowell of Détente likes to change his menu frequently, based on the season and sometimes on the day’s catch, but in the seven years that he and wife Suzanna have owned Détente, the one thing he hasn’t been able to bring himself to mess with is the Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding. This dessert has converted innumerable skeptics, people who have for years stubbornly clung to the belief that they don’t like bread pudding because of one bad experience or another (too dry, too soggy).

Détente’s bread pudding is neither dry nor soggy but perfectly moist and it begins with Détente’s house-made potato bread and blueberries soaked in buttermilk. Once baked, individual portions are topped with warm, house-made caramel and lemon-elderflower curd. The tartness of the curd cuts the richness of the bread and caramel brilliantly. In addition to the signature dish, Détente offers desserts for the chocolate lover and seasonal fruit tart enthusiast as well. Be sure to check out their ever-rotating cheese menu as well. Detente is open for dinner at 5:30 pm seven days a week.

State Road Restaurant

State Road is known for their dedication to sourcing locally, regularly serving Grey Barn Farm eggs, Good Farm chicken and Morning Glory produce.

Pastry chef Rose Sarja has created a dessert menu that clearly reflects State Road’s “uncomplicated yet refined” take on food. I’m tempted by the salty Butterscotch Whiskey Pudding with pumpkin seed brittle as well as the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse with banana brulee, but in the end it’s the Mermaid Farm Yogurt Panna cotta that I can’t resist. Panna cotta hails from Piemonte, Italy, and translates to “cooked cream,” which means it is mixed with sugar, milk, and gelatin. The mixture is left to set until it takes on a pudding-like consistency, and then chilled.

State Road uses whole milk yogurt from Mermaid Farm in Chilmark and tops it with blueberry compote, peaches, almonds (for crunch), and house-made blueberry gelato. It’s light, cool, creamy and not too much to ask from an already full belly. State Road also makes a line of Island chocolate bars, each one an ode to an Island town, The Mighty Quinnah, The Edgar Bar, and so on. Proceeds from the Island-Grown Bar, made with dark chocolate, dried blueberries, cocoa crunch, and sea salt, are donated to Island-Grown Initiative. State Road is open nightly for dinner at 5:30 pm and for breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday at 8 am.

Saltwater

Saltwater was designed to make the most of its spectacular view of Lagoon Pond. An entire wall of windows overlooks the peaceful marsh. They offer a raw bar and starters like tempura soft shell crab and grilled quail. The Island-inspired menu includes butter-poached lobster, grilled yellow fin tuna, and braised veal cheeks. Saltwater has a full wine menu, carefully selected to complement the food.

The desserts are fresh and unique like the house-made Strawberry Basil Sorbet and Vanilla Bean Affogato with Flatblack espresso. But the star of the menu, it seems, is the Chocolate Guinness Cake. A whole can of Guinness goes into each rich chocolate cake giving it an earthy, nutty flavor, which is iced with a fantastic cream cheese frosting. Give it a try any day of the week. Saltwater serves dinner from 5:30 to 10pm.

The Atlantic

The sprawling restaurant at the end of Main Street, Edgartown has a menu proportional to its grandiosity, which demands time and attention to navigate. Calamari fries with mango ketchup, Kobe sliders, and watermelon feta salad make for good starters. Dinner choices range from burgers and sandwiches to fresh wild fish and steaks, as well as house specials such as Osso Bucco and Chicken Marsala.

The dessert menu features a chocolate chip brownie sundae and a carrot cake that seems to be all the rage. Definitely share-worthy, this cake stands four layers tall, and is layered with cream cheese frosting, walnuts, and currants. Try it at the Hideaway, bartender Neil Flynn’s back bar, which is usually a little quieter. The Atlantic is open for lunch and dinner daily from 12 noon to 11 pm.

Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Co.

They just opened, and to a very good reception. The M.V. Chowder Co. is not only about their chowder. Chef Alex Nagi is serving the best fresh fish available, Panini, and more.

Meanwhile, Polly Conway, who has worked as the pastry chef for the Harbor View in Edgartown and at the Four Seasons Palm Beach, has created a dazzling dessert menu. Ginger Crème Brulee, a Blueberry Peach Cobbler, and a Blondie Sundae with salted caramel ganache, are enticing options but by far the most unique, a dessert you have to be of legal age to indulge, is the 21+ Chocolate Brownie. A dense, rich chocolate fudge brownie is served warm with homemade chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream, and lightly sweetened whipped cream with a side of 10-year tawny port. The sweet fortified wine is incredibly complementary to the rich chocolate dessert. Try it because it’s delicious, unique, and for the novelty of being carded for dessert. The Chowder Co. is serving lunch and dinner daily until 10 pm.

In other news

Chesca’s is now serving their goods, sandwiches, salads, and more at the Artisans Festivals at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury on Thursdays and Sundays. Be sure to visit them for a root-beer float or raspberry lime rickey for a mid-day cool down.

Chesca’s also continues to sell their sauces, grilled shrimp “pops,” and Thai chili sesame noodles at the Farmers’ Markets, also at the Grange Hall on Wednesdays and Saturdays.