The Dunes at the Winnetu: Still a lure in Edgartown

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Char Grilled Salmon with a citrus lavender glaze, atop champagne risotto at the Dunes. — Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murra

The benefit of living in such a seasonal community is having the slower (and significantly colder) winter, perfect for tackling big projects. Last winter season, the team behind the Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Edgartown took advantage of their down time to make renovations to their restaurant, then named Lure, sprucing it up, rebranding, and converting it (back) to the Dunes.

“We’ve dramatically tried to improve the reputation of the restaurant, and we have really accomplished that in the past few years; wanting to rebrand ourselves gives us a new name. New and nostalgic at the same time — it used to be called the Dunes 15 years ago. So nostalgic at times that some of the oldtimers still used to call us the Dunes, even when we were Lure,” says Executive Chef Matthew Passalacqua.

Talking with Mr. Passalacqua, you can immediately sense the passion he has for the restaurant — a passion that has brought him back for his seventh season on-Island (fourth as the executive chef). The newly rebranded Dunes restaurant offers what he defines as New England coastal cuisine. Much more American-cuisine-focused in the past, this year the culinary team at the Dunes is trying to bring in more global flavors while accommodating their guests, with families as the main focus.

For families coming to dine with their young children, the Dunes has a specific children’s corner, where staff entertain young ones after they’ve had dinner with games, movies, and crafts. The parents can keep an eye on them by dining in the family section, or can decide to have a romantic date night and trust that the Dunes staff will take care of their children while they dine with a water view. With none of the options on the kids’ menu over $10, the reasonable prices please everyone. A salad of mixed greens with tomato, cucumber, and Goldfish crackers ($5) is a crowd pleaser, as well as the chicken nuggets ($8), French bread pizza ($7), fish and chips ($10), and of course, tempting desserts.

Not traveling with kids, or leaving them with a babysitter for the night? The Dunes is a fantastic place for a date night! They are now able to serve food and cocktails on their outdoor porch, and it’s the ideal spot to end the night with good food, great company, and fantastic cocktails. The cool ocean breeze and the soft sound of the waves crashing in the distance create a lovely ambiance. Make it an extra-special night by taking the complimentary water taxi from Edgartown to the Dunes, which leaves Edgartown daily at 6 pm in season.

Start off your meal with their popular Lobster Pot Pie, where New England lobster and vegetables are cooked in a luscious lobster cream and topped with a light puff pastry lid. It’s been a personal favorite of mine for years, and I consider it one of the best appetizers in Edgartown. For the entrées, we had a chance to taste the Char Grilled Salmon served with a florally enticing citrus lavender glaze, atop some of the best champagne risotto I’ve ever tasted, paired with a tangy romesco sauce that balances out the entire dish perfectly. The North Atlantic Cod, another substantial entrée, is paired with a smoked bacon–stuffed quahog and a sweet corn and white hominy succotash that’s divine. Another impressive option is the Vegetable Pad Thai with tempura-fried bok choy, a light peanut sauce, and enough vegetables to satisfy any vegetarian.

The dinner menu also lists carefully crafted sides, and Mr. Passalacqua declares, “We put as much love and care into the sides as we put into the proteins we serve,” which is a statement of his true passion for good food.

As we chatted, Chef talked about his Brick Oven Roasted Chicken and how he  strives to make chicken as good as his mom’s. This year’s recipe and technique is pretty close.

He is also working on a tuna dish for the menu, bound to be unlike any other tuna you’ve ever tasted. Instead of going with the usual Asian flavors often seen in tuna dishes, Chef is going Latin with a Spiced Coffee Rubbed Tuna, Fried Tostones (green plantains), Crab Meat Guacamole, and Pickled Watermelon Rind. We can’t wait to go back and taste it.

In the meantime be sure to treat yourself to a dinner at the Dunes, you’ll be glad you did.

The Dunes restaurant is located at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort on 31 Dunes Road, Edgartown. For reservations call 508-310-1733 or email reservations@winnetu.com. Follow their daily updates on Instagram at @TheDunesMV, or check them out on Facebook at facebook.com/winnetuoceansideresort.