Smoked tuna melt, hold the lobster

Trying something new at the Menemsha Fish Market.

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A tuna melt from Stanley Larsen's fish market. —Connie Berry

I just came back from moseying up to Menemsha for lunch. I know it was a bit of a drive from Vineyard Haven on a Thursday afternoon, but I think we all know it’s well worth it. And, I was lucky enough to find a parking spot right at the beach in the middle of August.

Most people want a lobster roll or oysters or chowder when they get to the little fishing village. Not me. I want a Smoked Tuna Melt from the Menemsha Fish Market.

My daughter discovered this delicacy in the dead of winter a couple of years ago. She kept telling me I had to try one, so I asked her what was in the sandwich and she described it to me: Smoked tuna spread, caramelized onions, spicy mustard, and cheese on a grilled bun. I was already very familiar with the smoked tuna spread, having bought a sleeve of crackers with it so that I could eat most of it in the car on the way home just a couple of weeks earlier. I poo-pooed the mix of cheese, onions, and mustard though, thinking it was a strange combination.

One weekend afternoon early this year, we went to the fish market together to order the sandwich. Stanley Larsen wasn’t at the market when we got there, which made me a little nervous because he was the one who recommended it in the first place. We asked his wife Lanette if she could make the sandwich if it wasn’t on the menu that day.

“Give me 15 minutes,” she said.

We took a little walk outdoors and then came back to the market. The sandwich was ready and after a big thank-you, we took it to the car where we proceeded to rip it in half as equally as we could. Just like my daughter, I was completely in love with the sandwich after my first bite. The smokiness of the fish, the saltiness of the cheese, and the sweetness of the onions — not to mention the inclusion of my favorite condiment, mustard — come together in a way that sets this tuna sandwich apart. That’s why I found myself driving to Menemsha in the middle of the day today. That and I was hunting for something my husband picked up for me a couple of weeks ago at the market: striped bass salad. Unfortunately the creator of that also amazingly delicious concoction has gone for the summer and they were completely out of it.

“Darn,” I said.

“Oh, we’ll have it again,” Stanley said.

Could there be a kinder person? The possibility of this salad in my future is enough to keep me coming back. I know I could call ahead before driving up-Island, but I think I enjoy the suspense too much to do that.

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