The Nautilus opened last month on Nantucket at 12 Cambridge St, between Water and Easy St. Chef Liam Mackey (formerly of The Pearl) along with Stephen Bowler and Clinton Terry have created a lively open space, including an open kitchen with a bar and around a dozen tables. They describe the menu as “Asian fusion” and primarily features small plates like a Tapas bar, although some are a bit more substantial than that.
We found the service quick and friendly, and the overall atmosphere welcoming, with people crowded along the bar as well as eating at the tables. Many of the individual plates are quite small, and you probably want to order two or three of them: the two of us were happy sharing five small plates.
Presently, the menu features only one large entrée, a 30 oz ribeye for two served with scallion pancakes, sushi rice and grilled Japanese mushrooms. Stephen Bowler told us that they planned to add a few more large entrees later in the season. The current menu contains 14 small plates and 4 somewhat larger rice and noodle dishes along with the ribeye.
Probably our favorite of the 5 dishes we tried was the Prawn and Pork Lettuce Rolls ($16), where consisted of a prawn and a piece of tender park served atop a lettuce roll filled with rice vermicelli, with a basil lime dipping sauce. The mixture of flavor was exquisite.
Second on our list was the Tempura East Coast Oyster Tacos ($19) which consisted of a fried oyster wrapped in Nori with sushi rice, chile BBQ sauce and wasable aioli. Brilliant and playful at the same time.
We were also impressed with the Caramelized White Asparagus ($13), served with ramp pesto, brown butter and a Chinese black vinaigrette.
The Fresh Shrimp ala Plancha ($19) were shrimp served with a marcona almond romesco, which in this case was little puffed pieces of almond foam, along with grilled baby spring onions.
After trying all of these, on share plates so we both got a little of each, we ordered the Heritage Pork Belly Ramer ($25) as a final course. This is pork belly with Shio broth, a 6 minute egg and negi homemade noodles. This came with spoons for slurping the broth, but every part of the dish was really delicious.
You can order both wine and cocktails at Nautilus, with most of the wines by the glass priced at about $14. Our dinner, with 3 glasses of wine was $138 including tax but before tip, and was a bargain for a delicious evening.
Nautilus takes reservations in person starting at 3:30pm and by phone starting at 4pm, and is likely to be busy all summer, so get your reservation in as soon as you can. You’ll love it.