Blue Canoe: A taste of the sea, by the sea

Seafood risotto with fresh scallops, shrimp, lobster, and mussels. — Photo by Marnely Murray

Glenn Von Neumann has been the executive chef at the Blue Canoe restaurant in Vineyard Haven for the past two years, but he has been a passionate cook for most of his life. The restaurant, tucked away on Beach Road, feels cozy and welcoming, with a diverse option of seating: dine indoors, on the screened-in porch, or upstairs alfresco. The view of the picturesque harbor is always a welcoming sight during dinner, and while perusing the menu, boats and beachgoers grace your sight.

Blue Canoe’s menu is divided into starters, lobster, salads, entrées, and sides — the usual. But what won’t be the usual is the way the food is created and presented. For starters, there’s their fried green tomatoes ($12) served with a luscious green goddess dressing, tangy feta cheese, and a savory artichoke pesto. They’re a tip of the hat to Chef Von Neumann’s Southern roots, and a delicious way to start your meal. Be sure to order the Thai curry mussels ($14), a blend of creamy coconut milk, curry, and herbaceous cilantro; the shellfish soaks up these flavors and bursts in your mouth.

The decision of what to get as an entrée might be the most difficult choice you’ll make all day. Be sure to arrive hungry, as the chef’s portions are larger than what you’ll be used to. On his menu, the seafood risotto

($34) is a classic, and you can’t go wrong with ordering it. Freshly made risotto is served topped with fresh scallops, shrimp, lobster, and mussels — a seafood lover’s delight. “Most of my seafood is obtained right from the waters you’re looking out at now — local fishermen bring up their catch of the day, and that’s what’s on the menu,” explains Chef Von Neumann.

That access to fresh fish inspires him to create daily specials unique to Blue Canoe. His VIP Surf & Turf is one he runs consistently, and one you’ll fall head over heels for: prosciutto-wrapped grass-fed ribeye steak served over creamy mashed potatoes, and topped with colossal shrimp, a lobster fritter, and lobster butter. As the special, impressively layered, approaches your table, your jaw will drop just from the sheer size of it. If it’s on the menu the night you visit, make sure to order it. It’s a delicious and creative version of surf and turf made for sharing.

“Surround yourself with really good product and you’ll get great results; you can pretty much do anything if your kitchen is stocked with the best product offered in the markets,” says Chef Von Neumann, who can create a special in less than 15 minutes. He focuses on obtaining fresh local seafood and gorgeous New England produce, making it easy for him to feel inspired and creative. Another reason for his success and that of the restaurant he attributes to his staff, whom he trusts blindly: “You’re only as good as the people around you.” While he introduces me to his staff, I notice the dedication they have; it’s obvious they really love working for him.

Blue Canoe offers great food and great service in a beautiful atmosphere; all in all, an ideal spot when you’re craving quality in Vineyard Haven. And make sure to ask for Chef Von Neumann; he’ll be expecting you.

Blue Canoe Waterfront Grill, 52 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven. For more information call 508-693-3332, or visit them on Facebook at