The restaurant scene of Martha’s Vineyard continues to change and grow, offering more options for us to enjoy for a night out, which I love. Let’s discuss what’s happening at The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn. Yes, the restaurant that has not always been super warm or even considered to be accessible, is trying out some new things this year, and you might just be surprised and impressed.
This is the first time the Conover family has run the restaurant itself, at its well known luxury inn, and with that leap of faith, has come some amazing additions in staff and of course in the chef.
Meet the Chef at The Terrace
Now, let’s talk about the chef that The Terrace has cooking in the kitchen, Executive Chef, Justin Melnick. This chef could not be more perfect for this role. He’s young, forward thinking, loves local ingredients, has an amazing pedigree, and he’s a family man.
Justin, a graduate of the CIA, has worked at some of New England’s most amazing restaurants, including Olives (Todd English), The Butcher Shop (Barbara Lynch), and Tomasso Trattoria. Also, he and his wife, who happens to be the pastry chef at The Terrace, spent three months in Italy. There they worked from farm to vineyard to restaurant for free, just wanting to experience how food was made in Italy. How awesome is that!
Having moved to Martha’s Vineyard just this past September, he can’t believe how many wonderful people he has met, and how the Island welcomed him, his wife Emily, and his one-year-old Amelia. Also, he is thrilled at how rural Martha’s Vineyard is. He had no idea that there would be so many farms and so many resources for local ingredients.
This is a chef, who even in the Winter, goes to the FARM Institute every week for his eggs. He has partnered with a number of farms for food, and is even working with Morning Glory Farm to plant some things just for him and The Terrace menu. I like that!
How did the Melnick family end up on Martha’s Vineyard? Well, it’s all about who you know. Justin had taken an Executive Chef position in Texas and sadly that did not work out. Luckily, he happens to be friends with the Vice President of liquor distributor M.S. Walker, and placed a call to him to see what might be happening back East. That same day, Justin found out about The Terrace, and the rest is history.
Justin has introduced a well-rounded classic American menu to The Terrace. What does that mean for us? Well, delicious things of course, and a menu that is a lot more diverse than in years past.
What’s On The Menu
For starters, the menu has Fried Katama Bay Oysters and Bay Scallops served with a lemon and bacon aioli. Why is this special? The shellfish was just shucked for this app I ordered. They were lightly breaded and lightly fried, and you could clearly taste the oysters and scallops. So many places use store bought oysters and fry the life out of them, but these are far from the usual. These I will have again for certain, and this is just one of the apps offered.
For dinner, it was too hard to choose. Between the Sea Scallops, the Roasted Local Chicken Breast, the Wild Mushroom Risotto, the Bolognese, and The Terrace Burger (yes there is a BURGER on the menu), it was tough to decide. Still a little surprised to see a burger there, I had to try it. The Terrace Burger is served on a grilled brioche bun, with homemade pickles, caramelized onions, Gruyere cheese, and of course, hand-cut fries on the side. I should also mention that they even make their own ketchup, no Heinz 57 here.
The burger was fantastic – one of the secrets of why it’s so good is that a little foie gras is ground in with the meat which they grind in house. A little something extra for all of us burger enthusiasts.
My husband, Matt ordered the Bolognese. This particular entree is the Chef’s “pride and joy.” Spending time in Italy, he loves this dish, and it is as authentic as the ones he ate across the world in Italy. The Bolognese sauce is at a minimum a three-day process. He’s already sold over 1,000 orders. They grind the meat used like the burgers but there’s also pork and veal, and the rest is a secret – you’ll just have to try it for yourself. I know Matt loved it even more than his mom’s.
As if I hadn’t indulged enough, we had to try one of the Pastry Chef, Emily’s desserts. If there’s something on the menu with caramel, sea salt and chocolate, I’m done – just give it to me. We ordered the Chocolate and Caramel Tart, dark chocolate ganache, sea salt and creme fraiche, Emily’s “pride and joy.” It was rich and fabulous. The sweet and salty and rich combo with the sour creme fraiche was balanced, decadent and amazing.
The Terrace is still a special place to go to for dinner without a doubt, but the menu makes it reason enough to make dinner special again — often. While the evenings are still chilly, grab a drink in the Green Room first and sit by the fire. The wine list is great and they can make a mighty fine cocktail. Later in the season, the Green Room could just become one of the best places to grab a drink. It’s a little hidden and intimate but right in town.
Then make your way into the dining room, and indulge in as many courses as you can. Chef Justin Melnick won’t disappoint. I can’t wait to see what he does with the menu as more local ingredients become available.
It’s early in the season and there are a lot of positive things happening at The Terrace. I can only imagine what the next couple of months will bring. You can have fine dining and a little fun. The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn is open now Wednesdays thru Sundays. After the Martha’s Vineyard Wine Festival, which The Terrace has an amazing wine dinner with Raymond Vineyards on Thursday, May 9th, the restaurant will be open seven days a week. Why not stop by? The thought of a glass of Raymond Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc and those fried oysters – almost irresistible.