Good Taste: Down on the Oak Bluffs harbor

Good Taste: Down on the Oak Bluffs harbor

The daily scene at Fishbones is relaxed and casual. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Summer 2012 promises to be an exciting season on the Oak Bluffs harborfront. The old favorites are back: Nancy’s, The Coop, and The Sandbar. Fishbones and Lobsterville are back too, but with new chefs, new menus, and new food.

The harbor in Oak Bluffs has always been a prime place in the summer to grab a bite to eat and have some drinks. It has not, generally speaking, been known as a culinary hotspot, but that is about to change.

Mikey Rottman, most recently of l’étoile in Edgartown, and now with the help of a friend from Boston, Al Stubbman, is heading the kitchen at Fishbones.

Mr. Rottman and Mr. Stubbman have combined their culinary talents to create a brand-new menu that features favorites such as the lobster roll (on toasted brioche with slaw and a pickle, $20), oysters on the half shell and fried calamari (with cherry peppers and lemon aioli, $12). Beef Carpaccio ($16) and Mako shark bites ($13) just might be a first on the harbor and they are delicious.

I’ve been known to call lobster mac ‘n cheese “an abomination” but on my last (there have been several) visit to Fishbones, I was looking for comfort food and I was not disappointed. The guys are generous with their lobster: chunky pieces of tail and claw are tossed with orecchiette (disk shaped pasta) in an impossibly decadent cheese sauce ($16). Perfect for sharing.

In addition to burgers, fish tacos, a dressed up BLT, and an exceptionally good fish sandwich, Fishbones is also serving larger, entrée-style dishes. Pan-seared cod is served over carrot purée with roasted fennel and fingerling salad with a citrus vinaigrette ($24). Atlantic salmon is encrusted with dill and cream cheese (a creative nod to a traditional bagel and lox dish) and served with arugula and tomatoes in a basil aioli ($25).

Fishbones serves lunch starting at 11 am daily and switches to a dinner menu at 5 pm. They offer a kids menu and an extensive drink list featuring frozen drinks, house specialties, martinis, beer, and wine. Check out the full menu at fishbonesgrille.com.

Raymond Schilcher has been cooking on Martha’s Vineyard for decades and now he has landed in the kitchen at Lobsterville Bar and Grille on the harbor. Krazy Kap’s (also known as Teddy Karalekas) raw bar is still perched on the deck overlooking the harbor, where you can watch him shuck the freshest littlenecks and oysters the Vineyard has to offer.

It’s what coming out of the kitchen that is different. I suggest starting with the raw bar or with a cocktail before delving into the huge menu and all it has to offer. Specialty drinks include the “cool as a cuke” martini, with Bombay sapphire gin, muddled fresh basil, sliced cucumbers, and a dash of fresh lime ($10) and Smitty’s Miami Vice, which could also double as dessert with frozen Cruzan rum with 1/2 pina colada and 1/2 strawberry blended, finished with a floater of Myers’s rum ($10).

Once you’re settled, dig into the menu, which is separated by appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrées, sides, and desserts. The pig wings are unique: pork shanks cut to resemble chicken wings, slowly braised then deep-fried and tossed in a chipotle pineapple BBQ sauce ($14).

The fried Ipswich belly clams are among the best I’ve ever had. Just lightly battered with big juicy bellies served with homemade tartar sauce ($16 for a 1/2 pint or $28 for a full), I recommend the full. The peppered and seared tuna sashimi is a refreshing accompaniment to some of the heavier dishes: just barely seared, it’s served with wasabi, pickled ginger, and tamari ($16).

There are also chicken, burgers, a Cuban, and softshell crab sandwiches. If you’re lucky there will also be the special, lobster grilled cheese: chunks of lobster and three cheeses pressed between buttery sourdough, served with homemade potato chips. Lobsterville is open daily. Check them out on the web at lobstervillemv.com.

Noteworthy:

Over the weekend, the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company unveiled its new Oyster Shooters menu, which combines your favorite alcohol and accouterments served over a Katama Bay Oyster.

For instance, the Hendricks Gin with a splash of soda and cucumber purée ($7.50) or El Tiburon Tequila, bloody Mary mix, and a squeeze of lemon ($6.50). If you cant make up your mind, try them all for $31.

This Saturday, June 9, the Vineyard Committee on Hunger will hold its 35th annual bread sale under the Linden tree next to the Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven, starting at 9 am. The committee is asking bakers to bring their goodies (pastries, breads, muffins, scones, etc.) to the Linden Tree between 8:30 and 10 am on Saturday morning. All proceeds will go to combatting hunger — on the Island and around the nation.