The final few days of the year are here, rousing those inevitable moments of personal reflection. What did 2019 bring? What did it stir up? Can we reflect positively? Highs were met with lows, losses met with gains, but in the end, there’s one thing we all may find ourselves smiling back at — the food we ate.
A marathon of dishes sweep my memory as I review the year in food. Local bay scallops over white chocolate–whipped parsnips, courtesy of Gavin Smith at a Little House pop-up. Three-cheese French onion soup, pesto risotto, and other warm-you-up comfort foods beside the fire at the Newes. Two-for-one burger nights at Waterside Market, and a medley of decadent wraps, salads, and parfaits from Rosewater. There were savory and sweet crepes from Nat’s Nook, and “so good I’ll cry” calamari from Atria.
In 2019, we said goodbye to beloved eateries like Lola’s, the Lamppost, and Park Corner Bistro, but we welcomed a lengthy lineup of new spots to try. Life at Humphreys was the well-received merger of Slice of Life and Humphreys Bakery. The Harbor View Hotel’s renovation sought out Chef Patrice Martineau, whose culinary mastery brought us Roxana Bar and Bettini Restaurant. Town Bar & Grill offered Edgartown a fresh place to hang and watch the game over some of the best wings you’ll find on the Island. Five Corners welcomed Golden Bull Brazilian Steakhouse, with its hot and cold buffet, generous portions, and authentic Brazilian cuisine. The Lambert’s Cove Inn, Farm, and Restaurant opened Woods, featuring a Peruvian/Italian/American menu with shareable plates. Mad Rosie’s reaps the freshest acai around, with sandwiches and salad blends that pack local ingredients. Speaking of salads, they were taken to the next level with the upscale gem MV Salads on Circuit Ave. Across the street, tacos and ’ritas galore at Dos Mas — sister restaurant of Evan and Zared Shai’s Taco House (formerly known as Backyard Tacos). And Ben and Erica Deforest opened their second restaurant on the Oak Bluffs main drag — Oyster Bar 02557. Juice bar Juice by the Sea gave us “summer in a glass,” and Nomans, which replaced Lola’s, was one of the most anticipated additions to the Vineyard food scene. And it didn’t disappoint.
Nomans was the restaurant the Island didn’t know it needed. Outdoor games on a sprawling lawn, live music on the patio, a full bar, friendly staff, delicious food, and weekly specials. Heaters and fire pits extended the season well into the fall, and October pig roasts were a local hotspot. Always packed, always happening, and dogs welcome (in fact, they have their own entrance), I’ll say it again — Nomans was the restaurant Martha’s Vineyard didn’t know it needed.
A large teal food truck may have caught your eye in 2019, and it may also have reoriented your opinion on vegan food. Shout-out to Frankie’s Flatbreads, a plant-based venture with Chef Kyleen Keenan of Not Your Sugar Mamas at the helm. Exclusively vegan, totally mobile, and incredibly flavorful, this lunch and dinner go-to reminds us what’s best for the planet, and for our health. And I am literally counting down the days until I can house another Baja ’Shroom flatbread made with MVM shiitakes marinated in smoked paprika and coconut aminos, homemade Baja sauce, red cabbage, and cucumber.
Another honorable mention goes to Fish House, which technically opened in 2018, but the kitchen was introduced in 2019. I can confidently say Chef Everett Whiting pushes out the best fish sandwiches on the Island, and I crave them often.
Food and film came together in 2019, thanks to the creative efforts of our team here at The Times. Back in April, a Game of Thrones–themed feast prepared us all for that final, not-so-epic episode of the series. But — we got this awesome video instead. In May, we reviewed the Big Chili Contest, where Vineyard Caribbean Cuisine took home the win, and we captured the vibe of the annual competition. In August, for the second year in a row, we ate the fair. Reporters rated favored bites from Local Tacos, Yommi popsicles, Deon’s Jerk Shack, Pie Chicks, and more. And in October, we jumped on KFC’s “donut chicken sandwich” trend, but being a fast-food-free Island, we built our own version of the questionable creation using Offshore fried chicken and Back Door Donuts. (To view all videos, visit mvtimes.com/category/video.)
The Times took on Edible Vineyard in 2019, marking the return of a beloved magazine that was on hiatus for two years. In three issues, the reborn publication told stories of local food and the people who make it — the farmers, the fishermen, the cooks, mixologists, and activists. We told stories of Grey Barn bread, regenerative agriculture at Thimble Farm and Beetlebung Farm, shiitakes grown up-Island with the guys at MV Mycological, and the madcap world of renowned Chef Joe Hyde. (To read all of these stories, plus more, visit mvtimes.com/ediblevineyard).
All in all, it was a busy, delicious year for food on Martha’s Vineyard, and a pleasure to try to track it all through weekly dine stories and magazine features. Food is one of our greatest equalizers, and we look forward to what’s to come in 2020.