Living large at Atria

‘This is so good I”m going to cry.’

If you haven’t yet been to Atria for dinner, put it on your bucket list. The praise for Chef Christian Thorton has not been misplaced. Atria (pronounced with a soft A, accent on “tria”) is located off the beaten path in a stately old home just outside downtown Edgartown.

The upstairs dining room features fine dining, the Brick Cellar Bar downstairs offers lighter fare, and specializes in a variety of burgers, and in the summer months there is a pizza bar out on the lawn, but we were here to do some serious eating.

We were greeted at the front of the restaurant and shown to a lovely table on the porch, overlooking the patio in the yard. On the evening of our dinner, a Wednesday in mid-September, we had the porch to ourselves. However, we were told by our server, Matt, that in the summer, the place was often “maxed out,” with many diners — often with their families — who sit at tables out on the lawn by the fire pits. That’s right, fire pits. 

Matt began by taking our drink order. We looked at a drink menu that offered such novelties as the Savage Detectives, By Night in Chile, and Last Evening on Earth, but we elected to go with something a little more traditional. My wife had a Manhattan, which she deemed “perfect,” and I went with a Sidecar — brandy, triple sec, and lemon juice in a glass rimmed with sugar — or as Matt said, “an old-school classic.” I like to imagine having one with Myrna Loy. 

When Matt came back he explained the menu to us, including a feature called “Lobsterize It.” What this allows you to do is add five ounces of butter-poached Island lobster to anything for $25. Matt told us a funny story about a family from Kansas who dined at Atria. The father insisted on lobsterizing everything — his salad, and he even lobsterized his lobster. His son said, You’ve been having lobster every day for a week, to which Dad replied, We don’t get a lot of lobster in Kansas, so when I’m here I’ll have lobster every chance I get. “After dinner he pulled me aside,” Matt said, “and said, ‘Lobsterize my chocolate cake.’” When Matt put lobster on top of his cake, the son, who clearly had met his match, bowed down to him and said, “No more!”

We skipped the lobsterizing, and ordered a couple of appetizers. My wife is a huge calamari fan, and went with Crispy Wok Fried Point Judith Calamari with Sambal Aioli & Watercress, $18. It was light, the breading was delicate. “This is so good I’m going to cry,” she said. 

I, being a huge Pork Momo Dumpling fan, ordered the Pan-Seared Pork Momo Dumplings with Tomato-Ginger Chutney, $18. The dish could best be described as zesty — curry, ginger, cilantro, and chilies gave it a nice but subtle kick. 

For my entrée, I ordered the Mustard-Braised Pork Shoulder with Mili’s Mascarpone Grits, $38. The dish was done with grilled peaches and Taleggio cheese. Matt explained that the boneless pork shoulder was slow-braised for about seven hours in a mustard marinade. It was delicious, and the portion was more than ample.

I paired the Pork Shoulder with a Pinot Noir from Anthill Farms in Sonoma, $18 a glass. Matt described it as “a sexy Pinot,” and I just figured, Why the hell not? As a side note, Wine Spectator Magazine said that Atria has “one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world.” 

For her entrée, my wife had Ginger-Spiked Duck Breast with Spicy Plum Sauce, $42. I snuck a bite, and while duck can often be dry, this was moist and done to perfection. My wife paired the duck with a Dolcetto from Piedmont, Italy, $15 a glass, that went especially well with the duck.

Our meal had left us both feeling pretty full but we decided to split a dessert. I chose Banana Foster Bread Pudding because I’ve always loved mushy desserts like bread pudding, Indian pudding, and tapioca pudding; they were staples my mother made when I was growing up. The Banana Foster Bread Pudding was served in a bowl heaped with vanilla cream. It was amazing, and I have to say, it put my mother’s bread pudding to shame. And I didn’t share it after all. I ate the whole thing.

So dinner at Atria came through on all scores: The food was toothsome (I’ve always wanted to use that word), our server Matt was informative, efficient, and entertaining, and the dining room and grounds enhanced the whole experience. And you can lobsterize that.

Atria, 137 Main St., Edgartown. 508-627-5850, atriamv.com. Open six nights a week through the end of October, closed Mondays.