Usually when people hear the word “rockfish,” they think of fish that live among rocks or on rocky bottoms. When Islanders hear the word, though, what most likely comes to mind is good food in the heart of Edgartown. So on a quiet Friday night in January, I set out in the fog and rain to check out the hot spot.
You would never guess that it was a rainy winter night: There was but one open table in the whole restaurant — a tiny bar table for two. The summer-like crowd could have been due to the Thursday and Friday night free passed appetizers, served from 5:30 to 7 pm. The chefs make creations based on current menu items, and reduce them to small appetizers as a way to sample the menu.
Under the orange glow of Edison light bulbs, the bar area was full of laughter and lively conversation. I stopped and chatted with a couple sitting at the end of the bar, Doug Stafford and Kelly Felder. “We enjoy the lively atmosphere,” Doug said, “and the food is excellent.” Doug and Kelly said they try to come at least once a month, even in the summer because it’s never too overtaken by tourists, like some places can get. They both highly recommend the poutine fries when they’re on the menu, though the current duck fries ($18), with duck confit, caramelized onion, cremini mushrooms, Parmesan, and truffle oil, are a close second, they said.
Rockfish changes its menu three to four times a year, bartender Kevin Allen said. There’s always a cod and a salmon entrée — the two most ordered entreées on the menu — they simply change the flavors and toppings based on the season. The menu always has something for everyone, though — burgers, flatbreads, steak, pasta, each with its own unique twist.
Kevin recommended Rockfish’s top seller, a twist on chicken wings: the buffalo fried cauliflower ($14) served with Roquefort fondue. I was hesitant at first, but I put my trust in Kevin. I was so hungry that I started to dig in before I took my obligatory food photo. The healthy alternative to wings was better than I expected; it’s easy to forget it’s cauliflower and not juicy chicken. The best part, though, was the Roquefort — a sheep’s milk cheese — fondue, reminiscent of blue cheese dressing, but more rich and creamy. The creaminess of the fondue and the slightly spicy buffalo sauce went together perfectly.
Other popular starters are the wood oven–charred Brussel sprouts ($16) with applewood smoked bacon, mashed potatoes, and Roquefort fondue, and the potato gnocchi and sweet Italian sausage ($16) with roasted tomato, broccoli rabe, and Parmesan. Rockfish makes its gnocchi in-house.
Although the most popular entrées are the cod and salmon, I couldn’t ignore the wild boar and fettuccine. “Most people are scared away from the boar,” Kevin said, “but it’s delicious.” The boar is braised for six hours, and the fettuccine is also made in-house. I was sold. A generous amount of boar topped the pasta, mixed with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and spinach, with a sherry cream sauce. It was the perfect hearty dish for a cold, dreary night.
Other popular entrées include carnita-style pork tacos (three for $18), and chicken and waffles with spicy voodoo sauce and maple gravy ($20). A staff favorite is the beef tenderloin crudo flatbread ($22). The beef is served crudo, an Italian word meaning “raw,” on top of the flatbread after it’s been cooked in the brick oven, which ends up cooking the beef medium rare. Rockfish also has a smoked salmon flatbread ($19) and a classic flatbread ($15).
Rockfish is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 5 pm to 12:30 am. It’s closed Monday and Tuesday.