Simultaneously at 5:30 p.m. on every summer evening the Steamship horn blows and the lights dim at Straight Wharf Restaurant. A silent and breezy dining room suddenly turns busy and as the comings and goings of Nantucket’s harbor paint a landscape watercolor, the first guests of the evening settle into their caned wicker chairs.
There is a unique beauty to the dining room at Straight Wharf Restaurant, a beauty that can be described simply as quintessential Nantucket. The 46-year-old dining room walls are lined with shingles and accompanied by contemporary masterpieces from Silvio Catani and Ben Georgia. The carefully polished hurricanes and wine glasses glisten in the flickering light of tapered candles both on the tables and in hanging copper sconces. That candlelight will soon take over the light of the cotton candy sky and create an ambiance all on its own.
A certain twinkle can be seen in the diners eyes as they’re graciously greeted by their server with a smile and a “good evening, welcome to Straight Wharf.” The guests are about to be taken on a culinary adventure that celebrates New England food influenced by careful study and years of travel through Europe and beyond. The cuisine and ambiance is matched by an elegant wine list that takes its diners on a detailed tour through Burgundy and Bordeaux while expressing worldly influence. The carefully curated wine list expresses the passion of those who have built it, while honoring its place as a partner to the cuisine.
The local oysters, bluefish pâté, lettuces, and tomatoes decorate the tables as the guests enjoy their first sips of white Burgundy. The freshness of the food is only outdone by the layers of flavor and texture that escort it. The dishes are well thought out by Chef Gabriel Frasca and tip their cap to the legendary cooks that have worked within the walls that surround this year’s crew. At this point in the meal guests have already made friends with the staff who dance around them subtly while making sure they’re enjoying every bite. There are no doubts they are and the slight grin on their faces as their eyes continue to twinkle tell the story.
Wood-grilled and pan-roasted entrées arrive next and the steam coats the crystal of the now Bordeaux glasses. The delicate tannins of the aged wine will swoon the guests after their first bite. The diversity of each plate has the guests thinking back to their travels in Italy, France, Spain, while also thinking about their trip to the farm earlier in the day. The marriage of flavor from bite to bite and sip to sip is what most cooks strive to produce all of their lives.
And then there’s dessert. The pastry program is second to none on Nantucket and, like the savory menu, it borrows technique from the restaurant’s history. The galette; which is crispy, hot, and also cold at the same time, will always complete the evening. It is the grand finale of a dining experience that is most certainly grand.
The dining room at Straight Wharf Restaurant is the most beautiful dining room in the world and an experience in this setting is one you shouldn’t live without. They are open six nights a week and closed on Mondays until Columbus Day.