Last week, I helped edit a cool time-lapse video by Dick Iacovello, showing the Oak Bluffs harbor fill in with boats bound for Memorial Day fun. The traffic wasn’t quite heavy enough to indicate true summertime, but it was evident that something was starting to happen, the first notions of summer in Oak Bluffs bubbling up from some still very cold water. In the evening shots of the video, some friendly little lights beamed Gatsby-like across the water, reminding me that the restaurants lining the harbor had opened up, in the words of my Editor in Chief, “like tasty little clams.” So on Saturday night, I went to visit these old food-flames and find out what’s new.
Coop de Ville
The most noticeable addition to the harborfront this year is the conversion of Dinghy Dogs to a colorful food window called The Shuck Shack, owned by its neighbors at Coop de Ville. The raw bar and snack shack will have eight outdoor seats, and — take note ladies — will be run by a “handsome man named Jack,” according to manager Susie Radcliffe.
Ms. Radcliffe says specials this summer at Coop’s will include $1 littlenecks all summer, Monday lobster rolls, Tuesday “lobster fests,” and Thursday “dockside clambakes.” Coop de Ville will amp up their impressive selection of more than 100 beers with promotional events and 8 to 12 beers on tap at all times.
They are also proud to announce the new “Shuck Shack Extra Pale Ale,” made specially for Coop’s by Offshore Ale Co. Coop’s is also a hotspot for viewing the World Cup, which starts June 12. They will air coverage on three different screens, so soccer (fútbol) fans can watch in the open air. “We love being right on the water, in the sunshine where the boats dock,” Ms. Radcliffe said. “It’s a beautiful view.”
“We’re starting off slow,” said manager Leslie Graham of the Lobsterville Bar and Grille, but she promises to add exciting new menu items throughout the summer. One of the newest additions is swordfish bites with a pineapple mango salsa. A tenderloin bruschetta on a tower of garlic toast is also planned, as well as a grilled artichoke and romaine salad, and lobster or crabmeat stuffed avocados on salad. Lobsterville will stay true to its name this summer, with its signature lobster-stuffed meals including grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and burgers. “We try to use anything fresh we can,” said Ms. Graham of the ingredients used in the summer menu.
On tap, Ms. Graham favors a “really nice” Allagash White Ale, a “very refreshing” Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, Sam Adams Summer, and the Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA, because “it has a really cool tap handle with a skull and crossbones.” Ms. Graham also hopes to book Island Thunder for musical performances this summer. “It’s just always buzzing,” she said of the harbor. “The water, the boats, the people, the sunsets — it’s a fun atmosphere with lots of activity.”
Nancy’s Restaurant and Snack Bar
Nancy’s, on the corner of the harbor, will stick with their menu of “standard seafood” this summer, said manager Steve Ansara, but there are a few new items hitting the harbor. For lunch, additions include a steak tip sandwich with arugula, braised onions, and tomato garlic aioli; and a pulled smoked chicken sandwich with roasted poblano slaw, onion strings, and Hoisin BBQ sauce. They have also returned the fish tacos, which Mr. Ansara called “a huge hit.”
For dinner, Nancy’s is introducing a seafood pasta with truffle cream sauce, a veggie risotto, steak tips, and a half roasted chicken with New England style gravy. Down at the snack bar, they will serve up all the old favorites plus new housemade chicken wings. The entire restaurant will feature Bad Martha’s Brewery beer this summer. On tap now: the Vineyard Summer Ale and the Island IPA. “It’s just the epicenter of Oak Bluffs,” Mr. Ansara said of the harbor. “There are two or three different styles of dining at Nancy’s depending on what you’re in the mood for, and they’re all great for people watching.”
There are a few other restaurants on the harbor readying for summer, including Fishbones Cafe, which was recently purchased by Lookout Tavern owner Michael Santoro. The crew at Fishbones isn’t ready to announce their opening quite yet, but they promise it is coming “very, very soon.” Stay tuned for Harbor Happenings, Part 2.