Last week, the Edgartown restaurant hosted an open house, offering people the opportunity to sample Chef John Welsh’s food, and of course get to know him a bit.
The open house was a great idea. We all love a reason to go out, and even better, free food. There were a lot of people at the restaurant, and the upstairs bartenders, Mel and Bill were busy whipping up tasty cocktails.
I like having drinks here. Bill always makes me laugh, and of course Mel always has a good story to share.
After sampling a couple of the mini-cheeseburgers with caramelized onions (which were so delicious) and the mini-fried chicken burgers with homemade slaw, it was time to meet the new chef.
I never know what to expect when meeting a chef for the first time. So, I keep an open mind.
I love entering a restaurant’s kitchen. It feels like you’re walking into the hidden world where the magic is made. When I walked into Eleven North’s, I was greeted with a big smile from the man in the white jacket, Chef John Welch.
Of course I had to know where he was before coming to the Vineyard — and what a resume he has. John’s last Executive Chef position was at Wentworth By the Sea in New Hampshire. This is a huge Marriott resort in New Hampshire with three different restaurants.
After working at these amazing, substantial resort restaurants, what would be the appeal a small, new restaurant? For John, he wants to get back to the food and putting his passion into what he cooks. He spent so long getting away from the line, but it did not make him happy. He missed a small restaurant, and an intimacy with the food he makes.
An example of his style of cooking can be found in a special they offered – Coddled Little Neck clams seasoned with soy ginger and sesame finished with tempura fried beans. Yummy – I’ve never had clams this way!
Another big draw for John is knowing where the food is coming from. Though he has only been on Island for a couple of weeks, he has already reached out to local farms. With the fresher produce and ingredients available for use, John is excited to be able to showcase fresh, clean flavors with the food he cooks.
His style of cooking is simple, straightforward. He is also making Eleven North a “scratch kitchen,” meaning everything possible made from scratch right there.
For John being in a small restaurant again, has helped him fall in love with food again. He is excited to share this passion and his creations. He is excited to cook quality, intimate food, more so than quantity. He is looking forward to filling Eleven North nightly all year long.
It was John’s idea to host an open house. He wants to open the doors to the community, get people talking about the food and the restaurant.
It’s exciting for him to be a part of someplace so special like Martha’s Vineyard, and to be a part of a restaurant that’s about to experience its first Summer here.
The current menu is not John’s. He is working on creating it and will have it completed in May. But, you can get an idea of what to expect by the clam and tempura special or by this scallop special — pan roasted diver seas scallops with oysters two ways, apple-wood bacon with fingerling potatoes, and sweet corn stew. I am really hungry now! Also, if you go to Eleven North for Mother’s Day Brunch, you’ll get quite the sample of his cooking.
I wish John and the whole Eleven North team a great season. I’d love to see the restaurant do well, and stay open year-round. It would be great to have a good meal with good service in a hip space during the Winter months. I’m looking forward to giving Eleven North another try, and seeing what the Summer brings.