I went for coffee with a friend to Beetlebung in Oak Bluffs on Monday, and saw that it was closing on Sunday, September 20th. I realized that I had not been yet this year, and needed to sample the new chef’s food before it closed.
The next day I made a date with a friend, and was ready for Beetlebung version 1. I say version 1 because owner, John Molinari has dubbed it as such. In a past life, he designed computers and still uses the lingo.
Last year was Beetlebung beta, this is Beetlebung version 1, next year will be version 2, and there will be some changes. But you’ll have to read the end for a hint of what’s to come.
There have been some changes for Beetlebung this year. There is a new chef, Danny Finger (previously at Lucky Hank’s) and therefore a modified menu.
Don’t worry, there are some favorites on it still, like the Drunken Noodles, but now you can add to them. For example, we added local scallops and the dish was out of this world. This Thai dish was a crowd favorite last year, and it’s so great to see that it remained.
There are also a number of great new additions, like the local Black Bass tacos, which have a nice dusting of cornmeal and are topped with roasted poblano pepper, Morning Glory Farm purple scallion, and all on the most amazing corn tortilla I’ve had on MV. They were really light and tasty, even though they were huge. I would definitely eat them again.
If you’re craving fries, specifically truffle fries, you must go before the 20th. Danny has taken these fries to a new level. Beetlebung’s Truffle Fries have truffle cheese and boschetto – both of which are imported from Tuscany. Also, the fresh parsley is straight from Beetlebung’s garden.
Beetlebung is committed to using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. Most of the veggies used are either from Morning Glory Farm or from their own garden, which is right in back of the restaurant. John is an avid gardener — an added bonus, since we know food made with Island ingredients always tastes better.
The menu this year features a lot more New American food items in addition to a number of ethnic inspired creations. One of the chef’s dishes he is most proud of is the Swordfish Tajine. It’s a North African dish with a protein that is not typically used, putting a local twist on it.
By spirit, I mean craft spirits. Renee heads up the cocktail department at Beetlebung which was recently named “Best Craft Cocktails” – Best of New England 2015, YANKEE MAGAZINE.
There is nothing run of the mill with these cocktails says Renee. Each is made with the freshest ingredients and craft spirits you can get. Beetlebung is part of a movement of that celebrates the “spirit” of American craftsmanship, creating cocktails that are truly special and memorable.
If you look behind the bar, there are number of really good small batch spirit brands, and a number of which, that are made close by like Bully Boy (Boston) and Privateer Rum (Ipswitch).
The signature cocktail list is rather impressive, featuring cleverly named items like the Chilmark Slushy ,which has house made cucumber infused Ford’s Gin, dry Curacao, house made blueberry thyme syrup, fresh squeezed lime, and crushed ice — a beautiful adult slushy, perfect for a hot day.
The Super Fruit Martini was also quite fabulous. Made with an acai liquor from Brazil, Black Cherry Effen Vodka, pomegranate juice and fresh lime. A Cocktail loaded with antioxidants. You can almost feel good about this delicious cocktail that is truly unique. I don’t even think any other place on the Island has the acai liquor. I loved this one!
The ingredients used and the combinations lead to an innovative cocktail menu that is truly a delight for those of us that love a good cocktail. There is even special ice. Beetlebung has two sizes of ice cubes for cocktails that have triple filtered Oak Bluffs water, so the ice is so much purer than the ice you typically find in your drinks. A nice touch.
Renee and John have traveled the world for inspiration for their Oak Bluffs Beetlebung location. They have taken many of their favorite things and incorporated them into the space — the lighting, the music, the decor, the cocktails, and even the menu.
For them, Beetlebung is about not conforming, offering a different vibe, making you want more. The space at night is meant to be seductive, pull you in and keep you wanting more. There are modern elements, Middle Eastern elements, and a hint of lounge. What they call bohemian chic. Well, I do have to admit that I was there for three hours when I went, so I think I was seduced for sure.
Talking with John and Renee, there was a lot of excitement for the second season for Beetlebung. It was definitely busy and the new menu was a big hit. Oh yes, and the new lunch menu really drove business as well (a smaller version of the dinner menu).
However, they were both excited to talk about what’s to come for 2016. Planning starts this week for them. The space in the front, where the coffee space is located, will be redone. The goal is to have the front space be more cohesive with the back dining space. Also, it will have more seating, which is definitely needed.
The menu at Beetlebung will be modified as well, but the changes will be small, because this year’s menu was so successful.
So, you have from today until Sunday night, September 20th, to sample the Drunken Noodels or Super Fruit Martini and the number of other yummy food and drink items. If you miss this week, the next chance will be June 2016.
Beetlebung in Menemsha closes September 20th too.