Behind the scenes with Justin Melnick of the Terrace at the Charlotte Inn

Chef Justin Melnick at The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn. —Photo by Marnely Murray

On a quiet stretch of South Summer Street in Edgartown sits the Terrace at the Charlotte Inn, the only Relais & Chateaux property on-Island and what I consider one of the town’s best-kept secrets. I visited last week to get a behind-the-scenes look at what Executive Chef Justin Melnick is cooking up.

When I come in, he’s working on his Bolognese, which is served over housemade tagliatelle. This isn’t your usual Bolognese that’s simmered for a couple of hours and served that same day. Chef Melnick’s Bolognese recipe, which he has made for more than 10 years, takes three whole days to make.

By heritage and through marriage, Chef Melnick has love of Italian cuisine. The three-day effort for incredible Bolognese is well worth it. “It starts with the tomato conserva, which is my tomato base for the Bolognese,” Chef Melnick said. “Whole San Marzano tomatoes are puréed and then slowly roasted in the oven until reduced, making the tomatoes a concentrate of flavors.” That’s just day one. Day two is when the veal, pork, and pancetta are ground in-house — no preground meats for this recipe. And no need for precured meats either, since Chef Melnick cures the pancetta himself. On day three everything comes together, with the mirepoix, olive oil, and wine simmering for hours. This dish alone is worth dressing up for.

Mind you, the Charlotte’s Inn’s dress code has relaxed over the years, but the luxurious ambiance begs you to dress nicely. This is the place you make reservations for on special occasions: anniversaries, birthdays, and more. It deserves a nice collared shirt or a dress, in my personal opinion, and I’m sure you’ll agree after your first visit. Dining at the Terrace is a luxurious experience, yet the prices are comparable with other Edgartown restaurants.

At $46, the Grilled Northeast Family Farms Lamb Chops served with twice-baked potato, crispy kale, and a homemade mint jelly is worth the splurge. The lamb is American, locally sourced from Maine, and sustainably and ethically raised. It’s important to Chef Melnick to support local American products, and he strives to incorporate them in as many dishes as possible. The lamb dish is grilled to perfection, tender and juicy, and when slathered with a bit of the homemade mint jelly, the herbaceous flavors balance out the gaminess of the lamb.

There’s other news about the focus on supporting local lamb: Chef Melnick is participating in the upcoming “Lamb Jam” on Sunday, April 10. Hosted at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge, the “American Lamb Jam” is an epic tasting event and competition that brings together 20 of the top chefs from New England looking to become the next Lamb Jam Boston Champion. Along with the chefs, local breweries, winemakers, and food artisans will be serving up delicious treats. Butchering demos and a station to make your own lamb spice rub will be available. Tickets are on sale at

For reservations at the Terrace, call 508-627-6227 or book through OpenTable. Nightly specials are updated on This summer, they will continue their guest sommelier evenings, so be sure to ask about upcoming events.