The island of Martha?s Vineyard plays host to many exciting edible pleasantries. It boasts fresh off the boat seafood, ranging from oysters and scallops to striped bass and black cod. Many restaurants, including The Black Dog, are the self proclaimed best dining experience and I know that it?s a difficult and daunting task to select one frivolous night of gluttony. So I?ll make your decision simple.
In Edgartown, it?s nestled on South Summer St. in the back of the luxurious Relais & Chateaux certified Charlotte Inn. L?etoile, French for star, has impressed the ever discerning palate for almost 20 years running. In the kitchen you?ll find self taught Chef/Owner Michael Brisson using island grown ingredients to enhance the most orgasmic variations of foie gras and lobster; while in the dining room you?ll find the likes of CEOs, news anchors and other various dignitaries spoiling their palates.
There are only two menus offered on any given night: a four course prix fixe starting at $76 and a seven course tasting menu for $110. For the appetizers the prix fixe offers the diner a choice of the famed summer dish, Maryland soft shell crab, done in the chef?s daily whimsical preparation (for an additional $5). Other guests may opt for a very snazzy tuna tartare tower, a light summer island salad, grilled quail or a refreshing cold summer soup, usually incorporating the heirloom tomato. However it is the seared foie gras that some guests seriously ask for as their dessert that elevated my gastronomic senses to an ethereal plateau. The bing cherry, brandy-riesling reduction alone would get my vote as nectar of the gods if it wasn?t for Chateau d?Yquem. Speaking of Sauternes, there is always a top notch sticky wine available by the glass. Try it with the foie and you?ll skip phases two, three and four of your dinner?s climax and go directly to five.
For the intermezzo, or mid-course, a single scoop of the daily flavor of sorbet serves not only as a palate cleanser but also as a tease. One gallon of this smooth yet icy fruit purity wouldn?t satiate my appetite on a typical August island day. Although the flavors are simple they change regularly and could be anything from watermelon and strawberry to lemon and key lime.
The choices aren?t as easy for the entree: New England lobster, Dover sole, rack of lamb, Canadian pheasant, Yellow fin tuna, and chanterelle stuffed filet mignon. Keep an eye out for island caught Striped bass September through October, Delmonico steak au poivre or another exotic option when Michael?s creative juices begin to simmer. The one and a half pound lobster is so freshly decadent it melts diners to their plush seats. Ask for extra sauce just to dip your sesame sourdough roll in. Dover sole comes directly from the source (Dover, England) in its trademark gold tin. It costs $5 extra but it?s wonderfully complemented by a fabulous beurre blanc with sliced caper berries the size of a queen olive. The Yellow fin tuna is seared rare to medium rare showcasing the bright red-magenta flesh. The soft and seamless texture is so perfect you would think you were eating toro.
Toro is Japanese for fatty tuna and is the most expensive and prized meat from the fish, nearest the stomach, fetching upwards of $30 per pound. There are no weak links within the meat dishes; however the pheasant is a close second to the prized lobster dish. Pan roasted and finished in the oven, including both the breast and leg, the succulent darkish white meat screams for one of the Red Burgundies on the predominantly French wine list. On it are such gems as a 1947 Cheval Blanc, a 2000 Chateau Margaux, multiple Montrachets, Echezeaux & Chateau d?Yquems. The prices may be excessive, $1000 for the Margaux, but it?s French dining in a Relais & Chateau estate on Martha?s Vineyard. Just wait, in a few years they?ll start to charge an admission just to walk into the inn. People will pay it too! The meticulous grounds are glorious.
Dessert is included on both menus and has a great selection including the classic cr?me brulee accentuated with rum scented vanilla beans. My dessert of choice is always the berry mascarpone tart, however make sure you visit before August or you might have found that the island?s berry season has expired.
All in all, expect to spend around $200-$300 per couple depending upon how exquisite your wine preferences are. The dinner?s not over when the check comes either. Prepared by the pastry chef are chocolate truffles, dark and white, coated in cocoa powder and coconut shavings respectively, and chiffon cake stars. From beginning to end the flawless service doesn?t miss a beat. There are even shawls on hand for the ladies who get cold on the patio as the sun sets. Dress is formal and reservations are required.
If you are a super foodie and want to try the tasting menu, let them know when you are making a reservation. Sometimes they don?t offer it at peak business times because it is more difficult to execute efficiently. Should you ever make it out to the Vineyard, this is one place that truly cannot be missed! I promise that you and all of your senses will leave in awe.L’etoile
22 Northwater St.