Known for their incredible food offerings, owners Mary and Jackson Kenworth have taken on another restaurant on-Island: Beach Road, located in Vineyard Haven, at the former Saltwater location on Beach Road. Many are familiar with State Road, their popular fine dining spot in West Tisbury, on State Road (see the theme here?).
Beach Road’s kitchen is led by Executive Chef Austin Racine and Chef de Cuisine Sean Yancey, and the menu offers a variety of shareable plates, with three main entrées as well, which they call their “big plates.”
But before we get into the food, let’s talk about the gorgeous space it’s served in. Personally, having never
set foot in Saltwater, I had no idea what to expect. Once I walked in, the space took my breath away. The interior features a rustic decor, with an understated nautical style. As you walk toward your table, the majestic bar is the focal point on your left. Equally impressive to your right are floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on Lagoon Pond, where last week I was able to see a few families frolic around while enjoying the last few hours of daylight.
Beach Road might be the first eatery on-Island to offer communal dining tables, which I had a chance to experience while visiting. Reservations are recommended, but if you walk in without them, they’ll try to accommodate your party as best as possible. In our case a table that was reserved for later in the night became ours for the meantime, one that we shared with a family visiting from New Jersey, who were curious as to who was sitting next to them snapping a thousand photos. “I’m the food writer for The Times,” I said. “The New York Times?” they ask while server Mary strolls by, smiles widely, and says “No, even better: The MVTimes!” Enough about me; let’s talk food.
The menu is creatively divided into small and big plates, with a focus on small, sharable plates. It’s a fun and whimsical approach; dine with your friends and you can get to taste a little of everything. The restaurant offers both a Down Island Lobster Roll ($22; with peas, bacon, lemon aioli, butter-grilled bun), as well as an Up Island Lobster Roll ($22; warm butter, grilled bun) for those of us with Island alliances. Splurge and taste some of their freshest seafood by ordering their tower ($78), a literally towering display of lobster, shrimp, oysters, littlenecks, striper ceviche, razor clam crudo, and fluke crudo.
A smattering of pasta dishes are also presented at Beach Road, each creative in its own right: cavatelli, linguine, and orecchiette were that night’s offerings. Orecchiette ($19), from the Italian word orecchia, meaning “ear”, and -etta, meaning “small,” were served swirled with chicken confit, roasted tomatoes, rapini pesto, and pine nuts. The pasta was served perfectly al dente, and the flavors came together in an interesting combination.
Our second course included scallops served with a warm German potato salad ($20); a seafood sausage ($14), made with fluke, lobster, scallop, and bass, that was drizzled with citrus butter and served atop fresh watercress; and my favorite of the night, pork schnitzel ($18), served with a slab of wood-grilled cabbage and a dollop of fromage frais, fried just right.
Then of course, we had to have dessert. To share, we ordered the chocolate pudding with amaretti cookie, as well a slice of their German chocolate cake ($10 each). Both were incredibly executed and created by Pastry Chef Leslie Hewson. Luscious chocolate pudding, gluten-free to boot, was a perfect way to end the night. If only we had known that the Obamas had dinner reservations 30 minutes after we left, maybe I could have shared a communal table with them and chatted food with Michelle. Oh well, maybe next summer.
Beach Road, 79 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven. Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, 5:30 pm to 10 pm. Call 508-693-8582 for reservations.