Towards the end of the Oak Bluffs Harbor, near the Hy-Line ferry dock, sits Fishbones Grille. It has great outdoor dining space with an unobstructed view of the harbor (think of Tuff Ship that blocks half of the harbor view by Sand Bar). This restaurant has been around for years, but for this year, starting Memorial Day weekend, we’re going to see them shake things up quite a bit.
I had heard that there was going to be a new chef at Fishbones, and that it was going to be Island favorite, Mikey Rottman. Once that was confirmed, I was excited when he agreed to meet with me to talk about what the new menu concept for Fishbones would be. For this new venture, Mikey is partnering with a long time friend and fellow chef, Al Stubbmann, who I’d get to meet as well.
So,we set up a meeting for last Saturday, and it was off to Fishbones. A nice excuse on a sunny day to leave the little ones home with dad and head to the harbor. I had not been to Fishbones for a while. I have always liked the bar scene, and adore their bartender, Sarah, but it was not my favorite place on the harbor to grab a bite to eat. However, I think that is going to change.
First, I needed to know more about Al. I have known Mikey Rottman for some time. He is a well known, self-trained Island chef who has brought his creative culinary skills to a number of Island restaurants, including favs, Sidecar and l’etoile. Al was a mystery to me though.
It turns out that Al is a classically trained chef, having attended the Culinary Institute of America and has worked at some well-known Boston restaurants, including Harvest and Post 390. The two both bring their own style of cooking to the table.
Mikey and Al have known each other for a number of years, and though Mikey was on the Vineyard and Al in Boston and Philadelphia, the two have stayed close. Mikey convinced Al to come to the Island to help open a new restaurant in Edgartown. However, since there are delays with that restaurant and no opening day coming soon, Mikey and Al needed to do something now. They both are passionate about food and wanted to get in the kitchen and start cooking.
Being together, feeling inspired and wanting to cook, they interviewed for Fishbones. An interesting choice, since both of them have had more fine dining than casual experience, but they were excited to meet with co-owner, Sean Murphy, who is partners with restauranteur, Scott Page.
Sean is an attorney by day and a restauranteur by night – what a combo! Mikey and Al were hoping to bring a little pizazz to the menu for Fishbones, and Sean was impressed by their menu ideas and enthusiasm.
However, nothing was going to happen unless the two passed the culinary test of Sean’s six-year-old daughter, Hannah. Her concern was if they knew how to make a good quesadilla (which of course they can). By anwering a number of her questions correctly, including that both sides of the quesadilla should be grilled, they got the job at Fishbones.
Contract signed and 100% creative control of the menu — they jumped right in. With an aggressive timeline for opening, Memorial Day weekend, Mikey and Al have been working hard to create a menu that is going to change the face of Fishbones, and the the expectations of the dining experience on the harbor. Though still casual dining, it’s going to be casual dining done with the influence of two outstanding chefs.
Luckily when I was talking to them, they were able to share the new menu with me, but I can only share a couple of the items with you — which I guarantee once you read about them, you’ll be hungry. Let’s talk a little bit about the lunch menu which will be available all day, which I like, because sometimes you just want a really good sandwich and a beer.
There are such delectable eats as fish tacos served with slaw and cilantro lime, homemade clam chowder, Mako Shark bites (made with fresh Mako) with a bacon remoulade, Mikey’s yummy lobster mac & cheese, a reuben with their own brined and braised brisket, and a double cheeseburger. Yes, you read correctly, a double cheeseburger oozing with American cheese and deliciousness. Apparently, American cheese is the preferred cheese by chefs for cheeseburgers -who knew? Oh – and of course the best quesadilla, at Hannah’s request, which has a couple of different options like lobster and chicken.
As for the rest of the lunch menu and the dinner menu, you’re going to have to stop by Fishbones. I just wanted to give a little tease. One more thing, I have to mention that there will be a lobster cutlet on the dinner menu which I had not heard of but am dying to try! Also, Mikey and Al are expanding the wine list, so you’ll be able to have a perfect glass of wine, beer or cocktail with that delicious meal.
With a fabulous new menu in place and the fact that Fishbones already has a key element for success – location (the view is spectacular), it looks like we’ve got a hot new spot for lunch and dinner. I can’t wait to try that double cheeseburger! Don’t forget that the sunsets are amazing there!