Home cooking in Oak Bluffs

Sarah Brown's Comfort Food brings something new to the table.

We were having ribs anyway, and what could go better with them than some comfort food from the new Sarah Brown’s in Oak Bluffs? I called my order in, and then braved the Sunday afternoon traffic to pick up the goods from Circuit Ave. There was a short line outside, and I was able to peek inside to see the dining room and to feel a little of the AC that was keeping the place cool. I was a little jealous that I hadn’t thought to make a reservation so that we could eat indoors. Nonetheless, my towering bag of takeout worked just as well at home, where I keep it pretty cool (some would call it freezing) all summer.

I scanned the restaurant’s website for a little history behind one of the newest Island restaurants, opening this summer. Even though Sarah Brown’s is new to us, she’s been cooking for decades. With a background steeped in Southern tradition, the Island eatery is a welcome addition to Oak Bluffs. The restaurant describes Sarah Brown’s rise from the daughter of sharecroppers in South Carolina to cooking at prominent restaurants to running her own catering business.

I really wanted to meet this woman. What a story. I called the restaurant and got Kenny Brown instead, Sarah’s son. I found out he’s the reason the restaurant opened on Martha’s Vineyard. He told me he visited three years ago and fell in love with the Island, and met his fiancé here. Now he has two nieces, a nephew, and his son working with him at Sarah Brown’s, using his mom’s recipes, which were passed down from her father. Kenny told me his mom started in the restaurant and catering business 50 years ago, after growing up in it in South Carolina. He said his mom is ready to come to Martha’s Vineyard, but she’s staying put in South Carolina until the COVID-19 situation improves.

“All the recipes are from my mom, who got them from her father,” Kenny said. “She was the eldest of nine, so she was catering every night when she was young.”

Once I brought the food home, we got down to business. The first thing I wanted to try was the Collard Greens (a small side for $7, or it comes as a side along with rice when you get the Oak Bluffs Brisket, $22.95). I had never tried collard greens before, and I was very pleased to find that they were tender and savory. I think it was my favorite dish, besides the Fried Chicken, three pieces with a scoop of potato salad, $19.95. Oh, and Nephew Shawn’s Peach Cobbler, $6.95 and enough for two people.

Back to the fried chicken. I don’t order it a lot, because I grew up in a little town outside St. Louis, where my mother made the best fried chicken ever. But Sarah Brown’s fried chicken was right up there. I like my chicken hard-fried, with not a lot of breading, and that’s just what I got. If you’ve been waiting for this, you’ll find a home at Sarah Brown’s.

“So far the oxtails are popular, but the chicken is No. 1. When we came here, we were going to create a nice, upscale restaurant, and after two weeks, on the street we’re known as ‘the chicken joint,’” Kenny laughed.

The staff is light right now, and family only. They’re hoping to beef it up so that they can open for breakfast soon.

“We’re open Wednesday through Sunday, 12 to 9, and we’ll increase hours based on manpower,” Kenny said. “We want to start doing breakfast; we’ll have some ham, sausages, salmon cakes, fish and grits — Southern breakfast.”

Right now, it’s a great place to visit for Southern lunch or dinner.

“I’d like to thank the Oak Bluffs community for their overwhelming support,” Kenny said. “We really want to plant seeds and grow here.”

Sarah Brown’s Comfort Food, 55 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 9 pm. 516-526-3943; sarahbrownsmv.com.