Take a long lunch

Try M.V. Chowder Co. on a chilly afternoon.


Last Wednesday we were lucky enough to have a half-day at work, so a few of us took off to check out the lunch menu at M.V. Chowder Co.

I got started with a Guinness since it was the beginning of a long weekend, and suggested Times photographer Gabrielle Mannino try a hot toddy — there was a definite nip in the air. Our waiter, Igor Andric, wasn’t so sure they had the right ingredients for a proper toddy, so we told him to keep it simple: Hot water, honey, lemon, and a shot of whiskey. Luckily they had all the ingredients handy for a warm and light drink that Gabrielle enjoyed sipping at our table next to the window.

We got down to the business at hand, and decided immediately to go for that famous, awardwinning chowder. I’m embarrassed to say that it was my first time trying it, but it’s definitely not going to be my last. The broth wasn’t the too-thick, very-white version that’s so easy to find, but rather a thinner, more flavorful adaptation. The potatoes and celery were chopped fine, and the clams were chunky in comparison. Because I planned to save room for more food, I went with the Cup of Chowder ($9) rather than the bowl. It was a nice warm-up to the rest of the meal.

Thinking I’d go a little lighter, I chose the Grilled Asparagus Salad ($14) with crumbled feta, Greek olive oil, lemon, and roasted tomatoes next. The sweetness of the roasted tomatoes against the saltiness of the feta was perfect. We also ordered a plate of Crispy Brussels Sprouts ($13). The menu should have said “Crispy Mountain of Brussels Sprouts.” They were covered in some kind of tangy but sweet sauce that we asked Chef Glenn Von Neumann about later.

“It’s a mixture of balsamic, pomegranate syrup, agave, and red bell pepper,” he told us. Lightly tossed in the sauce, the Brussels sprouts were a standout.

I asked Glen about that fabulous cup of chowder while we were chatting. I may have the math off, but I’m pretty sure he said he made a record 144 gallons of clam chowder in one week last summer. He’s been at Choco for a little over two years now, and seemed right at home.

He also gave us the story behind the made-in-house Shrimp Scampi Burger ($19) we ordered. It comes with shredded lettuce and lemon caper aioli on a grilled brioche bun, and is served with garlic fries. I almost voted against ordering it, thinking the sandwich could easily turn into one of those messy burgers that fall apart every time you pick it up to take a bite. Turns out those fears were unfounded, because Glen spent about a year and a half perfecting the recipe, resulting in a delicious 95-percent shrimp burger that stayed together down to the last bite. He said he played with different recipes, and got into the science behind what makes the whole thing stick together. Unfortunately, I told him I wouldn’t share that info with anyone. (I’m hoping I’ll get extra garlic fries the next time I visit as a reward for my silence.)

Gabrielle tried the Mix Up Burger ($19), and I was almost immediately jealous when her plate arrived. This burger is also housemade, and included a mixture of ground sirloin and andouille sausage, smoked Gouda, onion straws, and ancho barbecue sauce, all served up with a mound of sweet potato fries. Glen makes the barbecue sauce himself. We could’ve smothered everything with it.

Admittedly, it was a long lunch with a lot of savoring of flavors. The food was filling, and try as we might, we still had to bring home leftovers. At my house, they didn’t even make it into the refrigerator. “What’s in the box?” they asked right before they devoured it all.

M.V. Chowder Co., 9 Oak Bluffs Ave., across from the Flying Horses, Oak Bluffs. Open Monday through Thursday 11 am to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 11pm, and Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm. 508-696-3000, mvchowder.com.