by Suzanne Daub
Café culture has become a beloved part of our island experience. Autumn evenings are still warm enough to be comfortable at sidewalk tables, and the island’s balmy October days add to the fun of sitting outside for lunch and late afternoon cocktails. With more than half-a-dozen restaurants offering inviting sidewalk dining complete with romantic bistro lights draped overhead, umbrellas, pretty plantings, and enticing aromas, you might think it hard to choose. It’s not: walk past the others and head to The Beet at 9 South Water Street.
Now in their third season, Amy Young and Felino Samson have made The Beet a unique and highly regarded member of the Nantucket dining scene and very much a part of our island community. Serving lunches and dinners most days from noon to 9 pm, with coffees, beer, wine, sake, and cocktails, you can stop by The Beet for sensational sustenance almost any time of day or evening.
Offered at lunch and dinner, their Smoked Chili D’Artagnon Duck Wings is a favorite dish. The duck is braised with warm spices and tossed with sambal honey. Two to an order is the perfect amount to start a meal at The Beet. These have a sweet start and a spicy finish: the heat is cumulative, but the arugula underneath catches the honey and will help cool your plate. Order these with a chilled Beet Limeade.
Truth be told, not all on our Featured Restaurant Team like eggplant. In fact, one of us usually avoids it. .. that is, until we tasted what Chef Felino Samson can do with this humble vegetable. For his Eggplant Roti appetizer, Chef Samson creates a terrine with roasted eggplant and tahini. He layers this terrine over a cool and smoky tzatziki and tops it with dill and mint and lime salt. Housemade flatbread liberally dusted with earthy and flavorful za’atar serves as the dipping platform. Dig down to get a bit of each layer in every bite. One taster in our party adores this appetizer saying it made his taste buds tingle with delight. It took some convincing to get him to share.
The Beet’s Bao Buns are another tasty starter or would make a perfect afternoon snack with one of their sake cocktails. This scrumptious pair of perfectly puffed three-bite buns are spread with a dab of Chinese mustard and folded around tender hoisin bbq pork tenderloin, cilantro, scallions, and picked carrots that add hints of sweet and a little pucker. Crispy fried shallots finish them off.
If you want something quintessentially New England, the Lobster Roll—served at lunch and dinner— is just what you want. The pickled celery adds a tasty twist, and, for more Beet embellishment, order this with their nori mayo and a side of their famous Sweet Potato Fries.
This eatery is known across the island for healthy Bowls and Salads, and we could not resist ordering two during our recent visit. It’s good to get your greens, especially when the salads are as deliciously contructed as they are by Chef Samson. We should have realized from dining here before, that a salad at The Beet is big enough to be your meal.
If you watched The Beet’s cooking classes on YouTube this winter (and if you haven’t, you should!), then their Sichuan Broccoli & Tofu will be familiar. The chef makes it look easy to make, but what could be easier than just ordering it from the expert? Spicy cooked broccoli and chunks of tofu sauteed till golden brown with tender, creamy interiors are the star of this show. But the supporting cast of wood ear & portobello mushrooms, fresh cilantro, orange zest, sesame, garlic, chili oil, and a rich unagi sauce add magic to this warm bowl of joy. Flavors subtly shift, depending on what is on your fork, and you’ll be thankful for the rice underneath that catches whatever you missed. Suggested pairing: Raspberry Beret – the layers of lychee and raspberry refresh your palate after the spice of the Sichuan
New this season, The Beet is offering a la carte proteins to add to their dishes: Wester Ross Salmon, Crispy Halibut, Prime NY Strip, Duck Breast, and Bell & Evans Chicken Breast. We appreciate this option that makes it even more appealing for omnivores to dine at this restaurant with their vegetarian friends. (The a la carte prices are the total price, not in addition to the entree price.)
We added the salmon to our order of The Miso Happy, making us all so very happy (we love the skillful wordplay indulged in by Amy and Felino). With delectably crisp skin and a perfect sear, the generous hunk of salmon is placed warm over a cool, crisp salad of red leaf lettuces, peas, edamame, slices of cucumber and radish, julienne carrot, sweet kernels of fresh corn, and chickpeas. This kaleidoscope of fresh color and texture is tossed in a luscious yuzu lemon miso dressing, adorned with thick slices of avocado, sesame seeds, and crisp leek. We loved this dish with salmon, but would have been perfectly satisfied without it. Suggested pairing: Zoe, white blend, Peloponnese, Greece because it is light and crisp, refreshing just like the flavors in the salad
Another tasty dish of hot over cold is the Bang Bang Chicken. For this, all natural Bell & Evans Chicken Breast is coated with Everything Seasoning to add a crust of flavor on sinfully delicious crisp skin of the perfectly cooked, moist white meat. The breast is sliced and served alonside a cool tangle of noodles tossed with roasted eggplant, arugula, chunks of heirloom tomatoes and crunchy cucumber. Suggested pairing: Funaguchi Kikusui, single serving sake in a gold can is bright, tropical fruit notes pair great with spicy dishes
It was hard to pick a favorite from the superb entrees we enjoyed, but it’s part of the job— the chef’s namesake Felino’s Fried Rice edged out the Miso Happy. Our team loved that this was different from the old standard. The rice is fried to crisp golden brown and nutty-tasting chunks reminiscent of a Persian Tahdig. Fresh bok choy, peas, corn kernels, wood ear mushrooms, and Thai basil pesto add whispers of sweet, nutty, and savory flavor. The crisp halibut that comes with this dish is fresh, beautifully cooked, and, as promised, crisp along the top and edges. We’ll never again order fried rice without thinking of this version. Suggested pairing: Spicy Margarita – just the right amount of citrus, spice and smoke to compliment the toasty flavors of the Thai basil pesto in the fried rice
With such generous portions of appetizers, salads, and entrees, you may be tempted to skip dessert. We think you should reconsider that or plan to return for an afternoon treat. The Beet has become famous for their habit-forming Brioche Beignets, freshly fried and liberally dusted with cinnamon powdered sugar. They come five to an order, so share!
If your dessert choice always includes chocolate, Chef Samson will delight you with his Chocolate Pot de Crème, doubled with chocolate cookie crumble and topped with whipped cream. But it was the Beet’s Key Lime Curd made us tingle with delight. All at once sweet and puckery, cool and creamy, this is the best part of Key Lime pie, with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. And it makes a perfect finale to a meal that can’t be beat.
9 South Water Street • 508-680-1857
Open Monday-Wednesday & Friday and Saturday from 12 noon to 9 pm
and Thursday for lunch from noon to 4pm
Open year-round, but closing for a brief Autumn break Oct. 24 to Nov. 11
Dinner salad & entree prices range from $17 to $45
beer , wine, sake, & cocktails • credit cards accepted
indoor & patio dining or take-out • first floor accessible • online ordering