I had heard a lot about the Outermost Inn. One of a kind. Right on the Cliffs. Ocean views. Local food. I had heard the prix fixe menu was exquisite, some $90something per head, and that reservations had to be made well in advance. I’d heard about Hugh and Jeanne Taylor, owners and “anchors” of the restaurant and inn, which first opened in 1989. Intimate, quaint, and open May through Columbus Day, the Outermost Inn is an up-Island gem and a summer destination. And I’d get there — I was just waiting for the right occasion. On a recent Thursday, I found it.
For the first time in 30 years, the Outermost Inn has extended its season. Now open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm, the restaurant offers lunch and brunch until Jan. 5. That gives you four more weekends to trial this winter offering, and I suggest you do. There’s a new menu, nonfixed prices, a new chef, and walk-ins are welcome. And while there may be a wait, you’ll find between the property’s breathtaking views, Land Bank trails, and mimosas in the lobby, there are worse places to bide the time.
Alex Taylor, daughter of Hugh and Jeanne, greeted us right away. She said the lunch is a way to keep things alive in the Aquinnah off-season.
“People are still around, but nothing is open,” Taylor said. “We have this incredible property, why not use it?”
Since launching in late October, Taylor said, lunches have been packed — each week more and more so as word gets out. In the dining room, guests can sit near the fireplace or by the windows, which line the room’s perimeter entirely. There are white wooden chairs and tables, but no white tablecloths, a detail high-season dinner guests may recall. The lunch vibe is casual and leisurely.
Beverage options are creatively displayed on a bouquet of signs in a small vase. There’s wine by the glass, a medley of beers, mimosas, “saki bloody’s,” and “White Claw surprise.” The menu is simple, with six or so starters and about five mains. We tried Beets & Berries ($8), for a refreshing, sweet, and colorful side. Bite-size bits of ruby-red beets and deep purple blueberries topped with fresh herbs were served in a small bowl. They tasted delightfully fresh — the perfect start.
We also tried the Roasted Acorn Squash Soup served with housemade rolls ($9). The harvest-golden broth was warm like a hug, and paired agreeably with fluffy bites of bread that were melt-in-your-mouth good.
For mains, we went with Fried Chicken and Potato Salad ($16) and Grilled Cheese and Simple Greens ($14). I find it hard to not order a grilled cheese when I go out for lunch, so I had to try the OMI rendition.
Nathaniel Wade is in the kitchen, a chef from Vermont who owns the family-run restaurant Misery Loves Company in Winooski. His inventive take on traditional dishes — say a grilled cheese or fried chicken — is apparent in its presentation at the OMI. The crispy grilled cheese had a bit of a Dijon-like kick, and was cooked with a thin layer of egg. It came with a heaping pile of greens that made for a light, but filling, lunch. The fried chicken was lightly breaded, seasoned, and served off the bone. There was a small side of honey dipping sauce, which you may find yourself wanting to bottle up and put on everything. The potato salad, made with a tangy Dijon dressing, was another delicious accompaniment (and potentially one of the best-tasting potato salads out there, we agreed).
Overlooking bare, brink-of-winter Aquinnah vegetation, and slices of sparkling blue ocean on the horizon, there’s unmissable magic at the OMI. A woman to our left summed it up as she sat down, letting out a deep, cleansing sigh.
“Wow,” she said. “Just being here …”
The Outermost Inn is open for lunch Thursday through Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm. It is open for brunch on Sundays, which include many of the lunch options, plus some breakfast additions. Visit outermostinn.com or call 508-645-3511 to make a reservation.