The long awaited opening of The Proprietors Bar and Table restaurant, a collaboration of managing partners Michael & Orla LaScola of American Seasons and Chef Tom Berry occurred in late June. Located at 9 India Street in downtown Nantucket, the former DeMarco’s space has been remodeled to be lighter and more reminiscent of Nantucket’s whaling past, with what they call a “modern maritime feel,” with custom wallpaper and light fixtures from local artists and reclaimed wooden tables and chairs.
We visited The Proprietors last night to see what they are up to. The menu is divided into 10 Half Shares (14-$17), 6 Plancha cooked half shares ($13-$18) and 4 Full Shares ($29-$41). In other words, the preponderance of the menu is small plates, and you are encouraged to order several of them for your meal or to share among those at your table. Plancha-cooked items are cooked on a flat Spanish griddle very quickly and represent one of the major innovations Chef Berry brings this fine new restaurant.
We ordered Charred Baby Carrots, Shaved “Pork-Ums”, Buttermilk Georgia Rock Shrimp, King Trumpet Mushrooms, and Chilled Cardoon and Leek Soup.
The Charrred baby Carrots was actually a delicious salad with the carrots sweetened by charring. It also contained corn tabouli, cherry tomatoes black cardamom yoghurt, and sesame crumble. The overall effect was a bit spicy but quite delicious. It was certainly one of the most successful dishes we tried.
Also wildly successful was the Shaved “Pork-Ums,” which was a sort of barbecued pulled Berkshire pork sandwich, with scallions, sesame barbecue sauce and a kimchee biscuit. This tender pork was plentiful, slightly spicy, and utterly delicious, and the biscuit with kimchee was certainly way more interesting than any sandwich bun would have been.
Just a terrific was the Buttermilk Georgia Rock Shrimp, small shrimp served with hot sauce, “molten tamale,” pickled celery and cilantro. The molten tamale was sort of a cream sauce made with corn meal, and served to contrast with the spiciness of the hot sauce. This is one of the half-shared that the waitress recommended first, and she was right. They also offer larger shrimp in their Plancha section: Apalachicola Shrimp with a garlicky green sauce, chile threads and corn nuts, which we photographed and is included in the slide show.
We also tried the King Trumpet mushrooms, cooked on the Plancha with pickled turnip, crispy cauliflower and sumac yoghurt. While others have praised this dish, we found it kind of bland.
Finally, the Chilled Cardoon and Leek Soup was served with a couple of Pecorino Fried Oysters and a bit of black pepper onion jam. A cardoon is a kind of thistle in the artichoke family, and usually the stems are braised and in this case pureed with the leeks to make the soup itself. The leek and cardoon flavor were to subtle to detect, and may have been overpowered by the fried oysters.
We also photographed a dish called Halloumi Cheese, served with eggplant puree, orange blossom honey and crispy chick peas, which looked absolutely delicious and the Grass Fed Bavette Steak, served with smoked salt, potato puree , aigre doux (sour sweet) and marrow paste. Our neighbors were devouring both of these so they appeared to be excellent choices.
For completeness, let us note that the four Full Share dishes that night were sea scallops, monk fish, NY strip, and a Carolina Spatchcock (chicken) with homemade beans weenies and mop sauce. While these are certainly delicious, everyone we observed ordered the half shares instead because of the greater variety you can have in these smaller dishes.
There are six desserts on the menu and they include a homemade soft serve ice cream that changes nightly. Last night it was blueberry-lemon grass, with white chocolate, and garnished with little squares of chocolate brownie. We ordered this one and it was delicious, although the portion was enormous. We didn’t actually pick up any white chocolate flavor (it doesn’t have much) but it was delicious anyway.
We also tried a Blueberry Crumb Stick, served with cinnamon crumble coffee bean ice cream and blueberry preserves that was also excellent.
Another item the waitress recommended and our neighbors ordered was Chocolate Candy Bar Tart, with chewy nut caramel, chocolate ganache, and nougat ice cream. It looked spectacular and is included in the slide show.
Our check with tax, tip, 1 cocktail and two glasses of wine was $142. The Proprietors is a welcome new and imaginative restaurant with excellent service that is sure to be a success on Nantucket. Note that the menu changes pretty frequently, but is likely to continue to be at least this imaginative.
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