There’s a new kid in town in the form of a spanking-new restaurant. The restaurant: Woods. The location: Lambert’s Cove Inn. The executive chef: Jimmy Alvarado. The restaurant general manager: Alex Speight. The owner of both the inn and the restaurant is the endlessly enthusiastic John Cain. He runs the entire place, along with his wife Kaya Cain, director of communications, and sister Christina Cain, director of operations.
The facility has been recently renovated to terrific effect. The style is a light, clean-lined esthetic, a world away from the former look of the inn. The previous decoration was scrumptious, but more in the style of an English country home than this elegantly casual iteration.
“I’m a big believer in being true to your location, which is how we came up with the restaurant name Woods,” Cain explains. “We are nestled in a clearing in the woods, with a pool, a two-minute walk to Ice House Pond, and a five-minute golf cart ride to Lambert’s Cove Beach. We work with many of the farms on the Island, including the GOOD Farm, Grey Barn, Mermaid Farm, Morning Glory Farm, and M.V. Mycological. We’re raising eggs, herbs, honey, fruits and vegetables, foraging around the grounds and doing our own smoking.”
Chef Jimmy Alvarado, who freely admits he’s obsessed with food, says, “Cooking is my passion. Feedback is important to me; it helps me think of new ways to combine all of my experience with different cultures. I put my heart, mind, and soul into every dish I create. I pretty much think about food all day long.”
Alvarado, who was raised in Peru with a Sicilian grandmother, has years of working in American restaurants on and off-Island. You may know him from his stints at other Island eateries, including as executive chef at Isola, and sous chef at Beach Plum Inn and Harbor View Hotel. His life has been deeply multicultural, hence his Italian/Peruvian/American/plus cuisine.
“We’re all very excited about our menu and its format,” says Speight. “Chef brings a big imagination to his kitchen. It’s making it possible to offer something that isn’t already out there on the Island.”
The entire menu is designed as “sharing plates,” with almost everything housemade. The menu will change based on what local ingredients are available, a challenge Alvarado enjoys. There are two types of plates, most are a plentiful appetizer-sized serving, costing around $15, with a few larger plates, priced at around $38.
Here’s the plan. Once you’re seated, the host provides the full menu and a raw bar card labeled “Get Shucked.” You fill out what you may want from the raw bar, the server takes the card and drinks order, and returns with both. After ordering the rest of your meal, the sharing plates are served as they become ready, no waiting around in the kitchen. Then it’s share and share alike.
I attended a family and friends night where fellow patron Ella Barnette described the food as taking the best of the different cultures, with nothing clashing. Agreed. First came a beet, honey, and goat cheese carpaccio, which had a crunch contrasted with sweet and savory creaminess. Following was raw yellowfin tuna with a yuzu-basil-ginger-celery broth, nicely piquant, and a good match for the velvety texture of the fish.
Clams and mussels in a massaman coconut curry broth appeared next. This Thai curry manages to be light, with tangy hints of lime-basil-mint-cilantro. Then came pork shank ragu with rigatoni, whipped ricotta, and roasted tomato sauce, the ricotta and roasted tomato a nice refinement to the usual tomato meat sauce. For a final savory, we had a perfectly cooked, 30-day aged ribeye, with a touch of chimichurri sauce. Stuffed, we were still able to eat our salted caramel panna cotta for dessert, during which no one spoke.
The room was seriously congenial, with plenty of room between tables and — thankfully — acoustics that allow you to hear everyone in your party. Table hopping occurred, with some guests causing quite a ruckus (Eleanor and David Stanwood could be accused of such behavior, but don’t tell anyone). Candy and Dennis daRosa were also making the scene. Without being asked, the consensus from the people I chatted with was, “We’re going to tell everyone about this place.”
There’s still a bit of decorating to do, and the raw bar to be added, which Cain believes will be completed by the end of the month. But nothing to worry about; Woods is open for business and the excellent staff is ready to go.
Alas, Peruvian or not, Chef Jimmy will not be serving cuy. If you don’t get the reference, Google it.
Woods at Lambert’s Cove Inn is open five nights a week through June (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays), opening seven nights a week beginning in July and continuing through Labor Day. On Tuesdays in July and August, Woods will host family-friendly barbecues with live music, face painting, and pet alpacas, reservations required. For information and reservations, visit lambertscoveinn.com or call 800-535-0272.