The Larder, a storefront farm stand and kitchen across from the Little House Cafe in Vineyard Haven, was the brainchild of Jefferson Monroe, owner of the GOOD Farm, and longtime friend Daniele Barrick, chef and owner of the Scottish Bakehouse. “I needed a place to sell my chickens,” Monroe told me, “and Daniele needed space for overflow from the Scottish Bakehouse to produce their sauces and ferments.”
Barrick and Monroe looked around for a commercial space, and found this former market on State Road — they’re now in their third season there. The Larder’s retail space is admittedly small, jammed with specialty items, and refrigerators with cheese and meats, including Monroe’s fresh GOOD Farm chicken.
“When you get two cooks together, you are going to want a lot of kitchen,” Monroe says about the space, which has a surprisingly expansive kitchen out back. Their plan for this space was not solely to meet their own needs, but to serve as a community kitchen: They rent the kitchen to small businesses that make things such as specialty nuts, vegan popsicles, and kombucha (to name a few). Currently, there are about 15 certified vendors who rent kitchen space at various times.
The Larder itself produces its own charcuterie, sausage, pickles, and ferments, but for the last year, the big draw has been Monroe’s fried chicken.
Monroe has been a poultry farmer and processor on the Island since 2010, supplying restaurants such as State Road, Port Hunter, the Harbor View, Noman’s, and Woods at the Lambert’s Cove Inn. Also, fresh chickens from GOOD Farm (GOOD is an acronym for Gardens of our Descent) can be found in the meat section at Cronig’s Market and the Farmers Market in West Tisbury.
But something new happened last year when they began frying Monroe’s own local GOOD Farm chicken at the Larder. They tried out a few varieties — Southern-fried and Korean-fried — but the one everyone loved the most was the gluten-free. Monroe brines the chickens overnight, then rolls them in his special gluten-free spice mix. The chicken has just the right amount of crunch and spice, and comes with an array of sauces such as honey mustard, several BBQ choices, and chipotle spicy mayonnaise.
He started out selling them just on Fridays at the Larder, but this season Monroe has also been frying chicken to sell cold, picnic-style, at the West Tisbury Farmers Market on Saturdays, which has been a big hit.
I have tried both, fresh hot and picnic-style. I was surprised how well the cold chicken reheated by just warming in a 375° oven for about 10 minutes; even the microwave worked.
This is the ultimate comfort food, which usually means there is an element of “I should not eat this every day, it’s fried!” Fear not, it is only once a week (year-round). And it’s as healthy as fried chicken can get: The chickens are fresh, and raised humanely outdoors on Monroe’s farm in Vineyard Haven.
Fried chicken takeout is available Thursdays and Fridays, and on Saturday you can order a whole fried chicken dinner for delivery off the Port Supply Co. website, theportsupply.com/en. (This article first appeared in the 2019 Fall edition of Edible Vineyard.)