Tucked behind the iconic Edgartown Books lies one of Edgartown’s hidden gems for dinner, Behind the Bookstore. Known for its amazing coffee, and daytime fare, the evening offers its own special experience.
The lights on the sail cloth tents and the well placed surrounding lights make for an intimate, even slightly magical dinner spot. With good music playing in the background, and a pleasant staff, you immediately relax, and feel like you’re in a hip little oasis in the middle of the historic district.
Chef Molly Levine, who worked at what’s considered the first farm-to-table restaurant and one of the great spots in the San Francisco area, Chez Panisse, has joined the kitchen this season. Coming from a restaurant that was immersed in local food, she was a bit nervous to come to the Island.
However, she immediately felt at home. She and general manager of BTB, Elana Carlson, quickly realized that this was the perfect fit. Over the Spring months, she got to know the farms and the farmers, developing close friendships and an in-depth knowledge of our local purveyors.
I should also mention how in awe she was with the local food scene here. It’s been a much easier and fun transition than she expected.
Because Molly is inspired by what’s available locally, the menu changes often. Not necessarily the main ingredient, but the components. This allows her and her team to be creative and have fun in the kitchen. The food is fresh, unpretentious, offering an injection of fresh good food into the Edgartown dining scene.
Where to begin when ordering at BTB? The menu has so many options that sound delicious and so different. I was going to be typical and order a burger. However, Elana stopped me from making that mistake. Don’t get me wrong, the burger is probably amazing, but she encouraged me to try something different, completely unique to their menu.
Feeling inspired, I ordered the steak tartare with horseradish salsa verde, Flat Point Farm quail egg, bottarga, and the most beautiful house made purple potato chips. The dish was so beautiful, and colorful. The steak was so amazing and that salsa — wow! I could eat this everyday, and those chips are dangerously good!
I also had to order the sautéed MVM shiitakes with greens (bok choy & watercress). MVM is short for MV Mycological, which grows these amazing shittakes in Chilmark. The beautiful, fresh mushrooms with the greens and Molly’s well seasoned broth made this a dish to add to any meal or have by itself. I will be having this dish again, soon.
Just when I thought I was going to stop, I saw the burrata pass me by on its way to a table. Always a sucker for burrata, I felt compelled to try BTB’s. The burrata came with grilled artichokes, North Tabor Farm baby squash, the most FANTASTIC green tomato jam, marcona, and almond kumquat relish.
I was so full from such good food. I was ready to wrap it up and call it night. But I wasn’t done yet. I had to get dessert to end this culinary journey. On everyone’s suggestion, I got the salted honey pie. I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth, but I do adore salted caramel things.
This is one of the most amazing desserts I have ever had. My very first honey pie experience and I feel as though I have been tainted. I ate the entire thing. If I was alone, I would have licked the plate.
Ok, now that you’re starving, and thinking about how soon you can get to BTB, I have to tell you about beverages as well. This year you can get coffee until the kitchen closes which is around 9:45 p.m. This was NOT an option last year, but a great addition. Late night coffee is a good thing. This also means espresso martinis!!
The beer list is impressive, highlighting a number of carefully selected craft beers. The wine list is good too, but of course, I had to go with a cocktail. I had the Laser Tag (reminded me of my youth). It had Ford’s Gin, jalapeno, hibiscus, lime and grapefruit. It was light and refreshing. Perfect for a warm summer evening.
I have to say that I was really impressed with my whole experience at BTB. Eating outside, feeling like you’re a world away from town, and discovering a world of well crafted dishes, makes for a great night out on Martha’s Vineyard.
Behind the Bookstore is open for dinner nightly. Don’t forget to stop by for breakfast and lunch too. These menus have some unexpected options.