By the end of September, I’ve developed an unstoppable craving for a quick-fix getaway to tide me over until our first real vacation. Dinner and a show in Boston or a foliage tour in Vermont will do the trick. But this year, we decided to forgo the ferry in favor of a sanity-saving night in Katama. As reluctant travelers, the convenience of this trip was its first draw. What we found, however, far exceeded our expectations.
If you haven’t heard, the Winnetu Oceanside Resort and Lure Grill are, once again, offering their dine and stay special to Islanders. On selected nights through October 23, dinner for two at the restaurant earns you a $25 stay in one of the resort’s suites. To fully appreciate the value of this invitation, you need to know some of what this resort entails. The rooms, which include kitchenettes and living rooms, are tastefully appointed with beach house style decor and top quality bedding. Most rooms have private decks or patios overlooking the pool, the ocean, or the vast, immaculately landscaped lawn.
We checked in around 6:30 pm and the staff, it seemed, could not have been more delighted to see us. They gave us a welcome package and began detailing some of the resorts amenities. The heated pool would be open until 8 pm (through October 11) and the fitness center until 10 pm. Complimentary racquets and balls are available at the front desk if you wish to play tennis. The Garden Pavilion has games including Wii, and more games, books, and DVDs can be found in the library. Another gracious staff member showed us to our room, walking us past a courtyard with a life-size chess set and pointing out the general store, ice machine, outdoor foosball, and ping-pong along the way. By now we were wishing we had arrived much earlier.
Eager to explore the grounds, we quickly abandoned our room and headed out. On one side of the building, an enormous yard is adorned with manicured bushes and ornamental grasses. A sunken turtle pond and gazebo are surrounded by Adirondack chairs and a putting green awaits golf enthusiasts. At the far end, a private pathway to South Beach disappears into the woods.
Around back, we found the pool and the patio abundantly supplied with lounge chairs and tables. We also found the affable general manager, Roderick Anderson, who indulged our fervent curiosity. He explained that the outdoor kitchen is used in the summertime when lunch is served on the patio. On Wednesdays in season, they do a huge clambake on the front lawn. Because the resort is so popular with families, they have a playground on site, a complimentary children’s day program, a remarkably inventive children’s menu, and even a separate children’s area in the dining room so kids can socialize while Mom and Dad enjoy a magnificent meal at a leisurely pace.
Chef Sean Yancey admits that it has been a new challenge for him to simultaneously satisfy the appetites of children and discerning diners. He was recruited in June by Mr. Anderson when the executive chef position was unexpectedly vacant. The two men had previously worked together in Vermont and Maine and share a commitment to hospitality and excellence.
Having started this season midstream, Mr. Yancey looks forward to next season when he and his family will relocate to the Island, and the menu design will more closely reflect his culinary vision. We got a glimpse of his creativity in our first appetizer: soft, warm pretzel knots served with mustard crème brûlée, cornichons, pickled red cabbage, and pork rillettes. Although this magnificent ensemble of flavors and textures was a special the night we dined, pork rillettes (a savory spread made from meat slowly cooked in seasoned fat) is on the menu and served with grilled bread and pickled vegetables.
Next, we tried a classic with an unusual twist: grilled Caesar salad. Hearts of romaine are lightly charred to give the lettuce a robust smoky flavor. And who could resist prosciutto-wrapped sea scallops served with a salad of green and yellow wax beans and Bartlett pear, accented by crispy sage.
Entrees include a rich lobster pot pie with potatoes, corn, peas, celery root, and a puff pastry crust. As a lighter option, I highly recommend the codfish wrapped in thin, crispy pancetta, served with a generous portion of wilted Swiss chard, and finished with tomato and sweet onion compote.
One of my fussier dining companions was thrilled that his 12-ounce New York strip was cooked just right and served with creamy mashed potatoes, green beans, and buttermilk fried onion rings. Pure and simple, unsullied by stinky cheeses and odd fungi.
Since four of us agreed to share one dessert we had a tough choice to make. Campfire s’mores were tempting, but we chose the silky sweet caramel crème brûlée brilliantly paired with green apple sorbet.
If darkness obscures the spectacular ocean view at dinner time, you get a second chance in the morning. A continental breakfast buffet is served in the dining room each day from 7:30 until 10:30.
The Islander special is offered on Thursdays through October 21 and on Friday, October 22 and Saturday, October 23. Don’t miss the opportunity to dine and stay at this luxurious full-service resort where, in spite of its 11-acre stretch, the warmth of the staff will make you feel like a friend of the family.