You know something was delicious when you’re still thinking about it weeks later. With the amount of food I consume on a weekly basis, this rarely happens to me. But it’s been happening ever since I had dinner at Farm Neck Cafe and tried their roasted chicken. Farm Neck Cafe is located at the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, a hidden gem between towns with the rare amenity of ample parking. As you walk through the entrance and towards the restaurant, you’ll get a peek of the gorgeously tended golf course. If you sit in their Garden Room (my favorite spot), you’ll get spectacular views of the first hole. The Cafe also offers al fresco seating on their screened back porch (no pesky summer bugs to disturb you) or at the bar, where both the full menu and a unique bar menu are available.
General manager Pascal Bitoun ensures that everything runs smoothly. Throughout my dinner, I could see him professionally maneuvering between guests. It’s that attention to detail that makes me come back to a restaurant. A native of France, Mr. Bitoun trained as a chef de cuisine, working in Paris for two years before making the move to New York. A couple of years later, his passion led him to Martha’s Vineyard via Boston, where he worked at the former Le Grenier and met his wife. As much as they loved Martha’s Vineyard, they moved back to Brittany, France, where they owned and operated a hotel restaurant for 21 years. In 2009, they retired to their home on the Vineyard where it all began. Mr. Bitoun was offered the position at Farm Neck, and tired of the “retired” life, he accepted.
Cooking up “bistronomique” dining in the kitchen is Chef Keith Cournoyer, Mr. Bitoun’s brother-in-law. Chef Cournoyer spent some time in France studying culinary arts, where he lived with Mr. Bitoun. This connection makes for a perfectly tuned team, and you can sense that as you dine at Farm Neck. (If you’re still wondering what “bistronomique” means, it’s a French word that describes a restaurant that serves high-quality cuisine in a casual setting and at a reasonable price. It perfectly describes Farm Neck.)
A nod to French-American dining, the menu is well balanced and fresh. Start off with the Lobster Louis ($17), a refreshing lobster salad served on a creamy avocado, with a side of mixed greens and crispy potato chips. The lobster salad is juicy and made with a hint of cognac. When paired with the avocado and the crispy chips, it’s magic in your mouth. If you’re looking for a hot appetizer, the Crispy Duck Leg Confit ($15) is the way to go. An entire duck leg is confit (cooked in its own fat until fork-tender) and served with a wild rice and corn blini, drizzled with a sour cherry gastrique. Since the duck tends to be quite luscious and fatty, the sour cherry gastrique balances it nicely.
As far as entrees, remember that roast chicken dish I mentioned? It’s half of a Roasted Chicken ($29) served with fingerling potatoes, dates, rosemary, picholine olives, and sherry juice. Something about the combination of the juicy chicken with the sweet dates that soaked up the sherry just hit a homerun for me. I’m all about that sweet/savory pairing, and even better when you throw in something salty like the olives.
People tend to criticize me for ordering chicken at a restaurant, but often you can judge a chef by their roast chicken. It’s easy to be lazy with roast chicken, but when you see effort put into “just” a chicken dish, you know the rest of the food is stepped up.
Another stellar yet classic dish is their Portuguese Stew ($34), a nod to tradition on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a bowl of local fish, mussels, clams, shrimp, red bliss potatoes, kale, and linguica served with garlic butter toast, which you’ll use as a vessel for all that delicious broth.
Whatever you order, you won’t be disappointed. Farm Neck Cafe is a must visit this season. Don’t let the fact it’s a golf club deter you. It’s an outstanding restaurant, and you don’t have to drive around for 45 minutes to find parking. And if you order the chicken, you’ll think about it for weeks. Dinner is served until Labor Day. Call 508-693-3560 for reservations and follow them on social media to check out their delicious postings.