The Crown of Downtown

by C. Oscar Olson

There is nothing quite like your hometown pub. You know the place: satisfying food and drink, smiling faces, and good times abound. They serve up some of the best things in life, something we could all use during these trying times. On Nantucket, there is one place that comes to mind where diners can fill their bellies and feed their souls, catch up with friends old and new, and feel right at home on their first visit. For all this and more, look no further than the Rose & Crown.

Erected in the 1800s, The Rose and Crown was originally a livery stable for keeping horses and carriages. After that it was home to a gas station and later an art gallery. Then, in the mid-70s, it was transformed into the restaurant we know and love today. Their 40+ years of steadfast service is an island tradition we are pleased to enjoy.

Their current menu boasts some new items along with all the classics that keep patrons coming back for more. The list of libations is long and diverse, offering everything from custom cocktails, unique wines, a daunting list of drafts, and an inventive collection of mocktails. If you just can’t decide on a beer, ask for a flight to taste a few of the eclectic options. As of our press date, they’re also offering beer and wine to go for those who order takeout food, which was our first choice on this sunny summer evening.

On Nantucket, there are lots of places ideal for enjoying your dinner outdoors, and the Atheneum Park is diagonally across from the restaurant. We hopped across the street, laid out our blanket, and took directly to digging in.

The Bites section of The Rose & Crown menu offers just that: dishes sized nicely to get your appetite going, to share or not to share.

 

Four crispy rounds of Fried Goat Cheese are served alongside tangy pickled onions and a complex cranberry chutney over a bed of peppery arugula. We loved the contrast of crunch and creamy, and the jammy sweet sauce was a cool compliment to the earthy tang of the warm cheese.

 

 

Delightful Loaded Deviled Eggs combine scallions, mustard, and onions in a seriously savory snack perfect for a picnic, and the bacon bits on top add top-notch texture and taste.

Airy and delicate naan makes the Braised Short Rib Tacos truly something special. Crisp, spicy slaw and tender, meaty beef filled them out, and we would have happily devoured more than the three tacos that come with each Bites order.

 

 

The Lamb Sliders are loaded with flavor. The succulent patties are grilled to perfection and topped with provolone and bacon—the tangy tzatziki under the bun brightens up every bite.

 

 

 

Our favorite first by far and the one to try this summer is The Crown’s Shrimp & Cheesy Grits. We loved the slow sizzle of the Cajun-style shimp, all six of them tender, toothsome, and cooked to perfection. A spoonful of cheddar-laced grits served underneath ties it together and brings it all home.

An option that beats the heat is the Crunchy Asian Salad. A melange of thinly sliced vegetables including cabbage, celery, bell pepper, and cucumber marinate before your eyes in an intensely flavorful sesame soy dressing. Flavors of ginger and cilantro settle in with a light spice from crushed red pepper. This generously sized salad could easily make a meal.

Another, healthier choice is the Warm Grains and Veggie Chopped Salad. We love the contrast of toasty ancient grains, buttery sweet potato, and seasonal squash against cooling red pepper, onion, and tomatoes. A bright lemon vinaigrette brings out the best in each component, and it’s just as filling as it is delicious.

One dish that walks the line between app and entree is the Thai Green Curry Mussels. Handfuls of healthy black bivalves are bathed in a house coconut curry that is too good to leave behind. Add the garlic bread to help soak up every drop.

We were spoiled the evening we got our takeout from The Crown: with so many delicious entrees it was almost impossible to pick a favorite. Every item was prepared with care and each dish stood alone with the accompaniments tailor-made to suit. Staff at the Crown packed it well for travel and included everything we needed, including condiments.

Burgers are a force to be reckoned with at The Rose & Crown. You can build your own with all of your favorite fixings or keep with the classics. Our favorite is The Hangover Burger: you’ll need two hands to wrap around the buttery bun, swiss, cheddar, and American cheeses melted and mingling atop a half-pound of fresh black Angus beef, fresh fried onion rings, bacon, sweet sautéed onions, and crisp fresh lettuce. All are cooked to order and made to please.

Enjoy a savory sampling of summer in the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich. Roasted pepper, eggplant, mushrooms, and summer squash are all tied together with house-made hummus and an herb aioli. Served on a Romano Ciabatta roll, it’ll fill you up without weighing you down. Fries on the side that came with everything on the Hand-Held section of the menu were crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, with just enough seasoning to keep you eating just one more.

Another sandwich made to please at any time of day is the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. Tender, juicy white meat is served in a cheesy ciabatta bun. It’s crunchy and delicious, and topped only by the toppings. Whipped feta, roasted tomato, and mint-marinated cucumbers bring life to every bite.

Gnudi and Scallops sounded too good to miss, and we were sure glad we didn’t. House-made ricotta gnudi take on the size and shape of the seared scallops, but their mild and doughy delicacy stands out against the tender, sweet sea-spray of the scallops. Both are served in a nutty brown butter sauce with oyster mushrooms and brown rice.

We can never say no to a Lobster Roll. Served wonderfully warm, it makes this seaside standby more divine for dinner. The buttery brioche roll is toasty and sweet, the fresh lobster was lightly dressed in a lemon butter, and the coleslaw was the perfect side.

We were treated to more luscious lobster in The Taste of Nantucket. Great as a starter to share or the main event, this comes with fresh fried clam fritters, cool lobster salad, and a piping hot bowl of clam chowder. With all your favorites on one plate, deciding on dinner has never been easier.

Hard as it was to choose a favorite, the first pick for all of us was the Halibut entree. Seared to a crackle yet pearly white within, the fish was served with Korean spiced quinoa and a lemon caper butter sauce with al dente asparagus and carrots on the side. This and many other options are made gluten free, so you can indulge while staying healthy.

 

You’ll find Debba, the Queen of The Crown, working every aspect of the restaurant: if she’s not showing you to your table, she’ll be taking your drink orders or bringing you dinner. It’s an obvious display of the passion she and the rest of her crew have—they make it their mission that you leave happy. So come alone, come with friends, or come with family. Sit inside in their spacious dining room, outside at one of their new sidewalk café tables, or take your fantastic feast to go. There’s no wrong way to do it at The Rose and Crown.

Rose & Crown
23 South Water Street • 508-228-2595theroseandcrown.com
Open Daily from 11:30 am
Entree prices range from $17.99 to $30.99, plus
burgers, meal-size sandwiches & salads most under $17
cocktails, craft beers on tap, bottled beer, wines by the glass & bottle
Indoor Air-Conditioned Dining, Sidewalk Dining, & Takeout
MasterCard, Visa, Amex accepted