A Nantucket sunset photographed from Galley Beach Restaurant.
With the late afternoon upon us, it is time to explore the north eastern part of the intriguing sea and windswept isle named Nantucket.
The White Elephant Hotel, where we are staying, ferries us to Galley Beach, a typically beautiful spot on Nantucket. We walk through perfect white sand to the Galley Beach Restaurant and are assigned our table before having a stroll along the beach. David Silva’s (nearly) open air restaurant is an almost organic part of the environment. As the light is waning, clouds part and the most magnificent sunset unfolds before our us. Luckily I snap a few photos before the pink sun completely disappears.
Galley Beach Restaurant began life as a clam shack on Cliffside Beach in 1958 and has been owned and run by the same family ever since. The off white décor, with just a hint of nautical, is inviting and place appropriate. The see-through plastic hanging coverings keep the wind out but let the light and sunshine in. Comfy wicker type chairs and hurricane lamps top the tables. Shell decorations and natural fabrics in the restaurant continue the outdoor feel. Many people choose to eat outside if the weather is suitable but we decide to stay in as there is already an autumn chill in the air.
David Silva, the current owner, happens to be on hand to help us select a good wine. My companion is having Filet Mignon but I am interested in trying the fresh coastal cuisine and so ordered the cod filet with leek puree. We decide to try a white wine. The Starry Night, 2010 Russian River Chardonnay is lovely and light (my companion’s choice) but when I try out the Bourgogne, I am sold straight away. The 2011 Michelot is exquisite with a fragrant bouquet and full bodied flavour.
Neil Ferguson is executive chef and his menus are influenced by local flavours and seafood which include European touches like truffle oil, foiegras and brioche. His early training was in England but then he spent a year in Burgundy at Marc Meneau‘s three-Michelin star L’Esperance. There was a further year at the three-Michelin star L’Arpege in Paris with Alain Passard, a mentor he holds in high regard. These influences are evident in his cooking.
I dig into the rest of the meal in earnest, starting with a staple of this region, New England clam chowder. Very creamy and incredibly delicious. My companion’s Roasted Beet Root Salad was made up of Strachiatella cheese, orange segments, mache and lemon-fennel puree. Unique, fresh and tasty.
By now the restaurant is full and buzzing. Our main courses are just as good as the appetizers. The Filet Mignon is exquisite and perfectly cooked. My cod fillet is firm, fresh yet tender as well. The leek puree and fingerling potatoes are a perfect accompaniment and the truffled vinagarette adds a bit of something extra in the dusky flavour department.
But perhaps my favourite dish of the night was the scrummy Strawberry Shortcake Crumble. The rich shortcake was just the right size portion to end the meal and the fresh ice cream and gorgeous strawberries set it off beautifully. Decadent is the proper word to describe this treat.
Fine dining is all the rage on Nantucket and there are many eateries to choose from, but this tucked away gem needs to be tried. It stands on its own as a gastronomic delight.