When one of my favorite cream-colored sweaters was splashed with red wine covering most of the front, there was no better place to be than the Chilmark Tavern.
When it happened, I had a quick thought of possibly buying some red dye and pretending that this was a stylistic part of the design, and the sweater had always been the color of a Malbec. While I was having unrealistic musings about the merits of different dyeing techniques, two of the Tavern staff converged upon me with machinelike precision. Our waitress put a dishcloth in my right hand and a glass of soda water in my left and told me to dab. She then proceeded to move us one table over and clear the tablecloth. The manager took a look at the sweater tag and produced a bottle of miracle solution that when applied to the stain and rinsed with cold water, had my sweater looking cleaner than when I put it on. It was as if nothing ever happened. The restaurant continued running with alacrity around us, and soon we rejoined the diners celebrating birthdays and other occasions.
For the table, we ordered the Beet Salad ($20) and Fish Fritters ($17) for appetizers. The salad featured beets from Morning Glory Farm, which tasted divine. Goat cheese garnished the greens, adding a nice change in texture. The fritters, however, were the knockout. They were made with Island halibut and included a guajillo aioli. Guajillo is a kind of chile; however, the sauce wasn’t too spicy. It was a nice complement to the fritters, which were fried with a crunchy outer layer and maintained a delicate middle.
The mains — pasta ($36), chicken ($30), and vegan ($29) — were relieving in that their portion sizes were enough for one person rather than a small family. The pasta dish included tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and handmade, Island-grown rye pasta. The chicken featured dumplings with a crust that was reminiscent of a crispy chicken skin. The vegan featured tofu on a bed of lentils, and while there was no meat, it was surprisingly filling and hardy.
To finish off the meal, we got the hot fudge sundae ($12) for the table. It had a generous, sinful layer of whipped cream on top, which wasn’t too sweet. That was garnished with thick swirls of fudge and pistachios. I looked at the last few bites with regret, but couldn’t finish it for the life of me.
One thing to note about Chilmark Tavern is that because of town laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol, the restaurant is BYOB. They do provide mixers that you can add alcohol to for cocktails; be aware that the corking fee is $12.
The Tavern prides itself on its local sourcing of ingredients, with much of the menu expressly stating its local components. Combined with the superior service indicative of a well-run establishment, Chilmark Tavern deserves its place among the Island’s elite foodie restaurants.