Many of you may have seen the new restaurant sign, Garde East, where the Blue Canoe once was. If you’ve been curious, this is worth exploring.
This restaurant, which offers some of the most amazing views of Vineyard Haven harbor, has been completely refreshed. The walls are white, and feature Island artwork from the Seaworthy Gallery located next door.
The decor is simple and lovely, with nothing to compete with the stunning views from both the first floor and the second floor.
I had my guard up a little about this restaurant. Knowing that the chef, Robert Sisca is part of ProvidenceG and its three restaurants, Garde de la Mer, the Rooftop at the G, and Providence GPub, I was a little worried that Garde East was going to be just another one to add to the list.
Of course, chef Sisca’s storied restaurant career goes much deeper than that. He was also a partner/executive chef at the highly acclaimed Boston restaurant Bistro du Midi, and was previously the sous chef at Le Bernadin in New York, when it was awarded the coveted three Michelin stars.
However, I was presently surprised. First, the general manager, Ian Toogood (perfect name for a James Bond character), who has worked with the chef for a long time, was very gracious when he met us at the door. He brought us to the corner table on the first floor, so we could enjoy the view.
He was also very knowledgeable about the menu and spoke to all the local components of the menu, and how celebrating the Island’s seafood bounty was important to the chef. With this in mind, the menu will see many changes throughout the season as the farms and fishermen harvest different foods. Ian was enthusiastic about how local the restaurant was.
Also, though chef Robert Sisca is very busy and has two-year old twins at home with his wife in Providence, he is here, on the Vineyard everyday, and has been since ProvidenceG decided to pull the trigger and open the restaurant six weeks ago. Just know that this is the timeframe they had to make magic happen, and magic was indeed made.
When I spoke with the chef, it was clear that he is dedicated to this restaurant. His heart is in the venture, and he has a love of this special place.
The menu is simple, featuring Raw, First, Fish, Meat, To Share, and Sides. Also, the menu is not loaded down with a vast number of options. Each category features a nice selection of carefully curated options, and luckily I was with some adventurous eaters.
We really took advantage of the Raw menu, selecting the Yellow Fin tuna with duck cracklings, freeze dried corn, foie gras “beach sand,” the Oysters, three Chappy & three Island Creek with yellow melon granite, and bloody mary “caviar,” and the Live Scallop with olive oil, sea salt, chives.
Each dish was carefully presented and obviously put together with purpose and attention to detail. Though absolutely lovely, the dishes were not stuffy and pretentious but rather simple with a focus on flavor. Truly elevated food. I should also add that it’s the first time I have had sea urchin – which really tastes like the ocean.
For our second course, we ordered the Spanish Octopus with Island little neck clams, confit fennel, bouillabaisse emulsion. I am a sucker for clams and a good bouillabaisse, and was glad we ordered this.
I have to say, I have never had octopus like this before. So fresh and simple, and such a crowd pleaser. We all ooh’d and ah’d over this dish.
The main course was all about fish. We continued our sea theme. For me, I got the Local Catch. It was halibut with a crispy bread crumb topping, chorizo emulsion and broccoli rabe.
WOW was all I can say. The crunch of the topping, the light, flakey fish, the smokiness of the chorizo and the bitter twist with the broccoli rabe made for a truly delightful meal.
Sadly, no one had room for dessert which I am sure would have been delightful, like everything else was.
I have to say that I love this space, always have. However with this menu, the new decor, it feels like it should. It has a natural ease, an elegance almost that is yet casual at the same time.
Not sure why, but this space is always so calming for me. It has a good feel to it, and with a dining experience like the one I had, it now is one of the best places for food on the Island.
As they artfully put it “the menu appeals to both adventurous epicureans and the palettes who prefer familiar favorites.” The menu is unlike any other on the Vineyard. It’s a refreshing experience
Garde East now offers wine and beer. Ian told me that there will be an excellent selection, perfect to pair with dining options. When we went the week it first opened, the restaurant was still BYOB.
Watch out MV – with Beach Road and Garde East, Vineyard Haven has some hot spots for foodies.
Authors note: With his impressive restaurant credentials and background, Robert Sisca has dropped anchor here on Martha’s Vineyard! That makes me very curious about his Providence restaurant, Garde De La Mar. Perhaps a foodie road trip?