Most local restaurants pare down their menus in the winter. Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches in Oak Bluffs has expanded theirs. The little takeout shop, best known for the lunch options that justify their name, has added to-go dinners, as well as soups and special desserts to their extensive menu.
Skinny’s, which is open in the off season for the first time this year (the second location in Edgartown is closed for the winter), is now another place on the Island where you can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day long (dinner is served Thursday through Sunday). Choice is a good thing, especially this time of year, with more and more businesses closing their doors until spring.
Owner Alex King launched the dinner menu in October, once he and the staff found themselves with a little more time on their hands. So far, word has yet to spread like wildfire, but he’s convinced that once people try a takeout dinner they’ll be back. No doubt he’s right. The good-sized entrées, which come with two sides of your choice, are made fresh to order, include five or six rib sticking options and, best of all, the price is right. For $13 you can feast on a hot meal or, for $7 to $9, you can grab a prepackaged dinner to take home and heat up yourself.
The choices, which change weekly, fall generally into the comfort food category: meatloaf, roasted chicken, Salisbury steak with red eye gravy, and beef Stroganoff. There is usually at least one less run-of-the-mill selection like chicken Kiev with bacon, or barbecue crusted country fried pork. The list of sides is large and includes the expected: mashed potatoes, vegetable of the day, French fries, coleslaw, as well as some more gourmet options like stuffed portabellas or mushroom gnocchi. If you want to make a two-course meal of your selection, you can opt for soup or a salad as one of your sides.
The quality and care that go into Skinny’s sandwiches are reflected in the homemade dinners. Since he opened 10 years ago, Mr. King has made it a mission to use as many in-house prepared ingredients as possible. Most of the deli meats are oven-roasted, and the pickles are homemade, as are the salad dressings and the chipotle and cranberry mayos.
The same holds true with the dinners. The vegetables are always fresh, never canned. The gravies and sauces are made from scratch.
“Our concept is to try to have everything very, very fresh,” says Mr. King. “We want to be somewhere where you can come in, get something fresh, get something quick, and have a place that’s friendly and clean.”
The daily soups range from the standard French onion, butternut squash, chicken and orzo, to some unexpected options like cheeseburger potato. There are two choices every day which go for $3.99.
The homemade desserts prepared by Jen Watson are often inventive — pumpkin mocha cheesecake, chocolate mousse trifle. The daily cupcake choice is equally interesting. A recent offering, the Milky Way Wonder Cake, featured a walnut-studded cupcake with a mound of fluffy milk chocolate icing. Desserts sell from $2 for the cupcakes to $3.25 for a mousse bomb.
The little takeout shop, attached to Mad Martha’s on mid Circuit Avenue, is unassuming from the outside. When you walk in, the atmosphere is clean, well-lit, and welcoming. The chalkboard listing dozens of items wraps around three walls. There is one small table, a counter along one wall, and about ten stools. It’s not unusual to see someone grabbing a quick bite at Skinny’s at lunchtime while chatting with the staff, but most people just grab and go.
There are almost 30 different hot and cold sandwiches and wraps listed on the menu, along with a handful of salads and sides like mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers (the onion rings are fantastic). Breakfast options — served all day –—include breakfast sandwiches and burritos. The hippie burrito made with eggs, roasted veggies, cheddar, and salsa is a favorite. There are also fresh bagels on Saturday and Sunday.
Skinny’s always has one sandwich special, such as a pesto chicken wrap. The sandwiches, as promised, are chock full.
“We like to give people what they pay for,” says Mr. King. “You get a very large portion of meat.” For example, he notes that the cheeseburger sub is made with a half pound of burger. Sandwich prices range from $7.50 to $9.50.
The dinners will give the staff of four a chance to stretch their culinary boundaries a bit. Many of them have a fine dining background. Mr. King has a degree in culinary arts from Johnson and Wales University. Prior to coming to the Vineyard to take on the position as executive chef at the former Tsunami restaurant, he cooked at a number of restaurants in Boston, including Todd English’s Olives.
Jeff Wingo formerly cooked at Sidecar in Oak Bluffs, Saltwater Restaurant in Vineyard Haven, and the Lambert’s Cove Inn in West Tisbury. Sean Nelson previously worked at The Lookout Tavern and The Newes. This is Ms. Watson’s first experience baking professionally, but she is proving herself a talented and innovative pastry chef.
Mr. King says that he is surprised that after a decade in business, many Islanders still don’t know that the sandwich shop exists. He’s hoping that with the summer crowds gone, more people from outside of Oak Bluffs will venture into town to give Skinny’s a shot, perhaps enticed by the new affordable dinner options. For one week, January 3 through 10, Skinny’s will run a first-time customer special. All dinners will be half price, one per customer. Mr. King says that you can purchase for the whole family at the special price, but all must be present.
If the dinners don’t take off this month, Mr. King says he will discontinue the experiment, but he will still serve his “fat” sandwiches and breakfast choices in Oak Bluffs all winter. He also plans to reopen the Edgartown shop in April this year, earlier than usual. “We want to continue to serve the community as much as we can,” he says.
Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches, 12 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs. Open seven days. Monday through Wednesday, 11 am to 4 pm (no dinners); Thursday and Friday, 11 am to 9 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 9 pm. 508-693-5281, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or search them on Facebook.