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January 21, 2009

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Nantucket: Part 2



Nantucket: Part 2
Beach, spa, fishing, fine dining; Nantucket offers the perfect island getaway.

Welcome back to our island getaway in Nantucket. If you missed part one of our adventure, click here to read the story.

A great place to go and have some fun when the fish aren't biting or when the sun isn't shining is Cisco Brewers, home to The Triple Eight Distillery and Nantucket Vineyards.

It's the quintessential entrepreneurial operation and was founded by Jay Harman, who came up with the business plan while studying at Fairfield University in Connecticut. The operation is on the cusp of breaking out into the national spotlight. The company offers a full line of micro brews, premium vodkas, rum and gin. The hottest new product launch is the recently bottled single malt whiskey called Notch, which retails for $650 a bottle.

It's hard to get Jay on the phone so don't be shy. Just head up to the brewery, which is located at 5 Bartlett Farm Road, to sample the ales, spirits and wines. The hours of operation are daily from 10am to 6pm. The winery is open on Sundays too, from noon until 5pm. Tours are by appointment. Tel: 508-325-5929.

What makes visiting Cisco Brewers so much fun is the laidback atmosphere of the people running the place, set against a backdrop of an ancestral farm. There are two tasting rooms you can choose from. One is for the vodkas and the other is for the micro brewed ales. Between the two buildings is a courtyard set up with tables. If you'd like to have a lunch, head up the road to the famous Bartlett Farms and pick up a sandwich or a gourmet offering and bring it with you.

The ales are out of this world and are brewed right on the premises from hops that are homegrown too. Some of the operation's distilling equipment came from another famous New England microbrewery: Samuel Adams. There are over seven different offerings on the ale side. With names like Whale's Tail Pale Ale and Sankaty Light, you'll have fun sampling them all. The vodkas are great too and are sold under the Triple 888 brand. The name is coined from the Cisco Brewery's lucky well, which is numbered with the designation 888.

Sampling the new single malt whiskey Notch was a real treat. It was buttery and went down smooth with a long warm finish, which lasted pleasantly longer than expected. Many restaurants such as Topper's, The Galley and 21 Federal bought futures in Notch. They will start taking delivery in 2009, which means you'll be able to taste it, too!

It's a good idea not to overdo it at the brewery because there is more fun scheduled for later on. We'll be checking into the Wauwinet Inn and heading into town for an early seating for dinner. Cisco Brewers, 5 Bartlett Farm Road, Nantucket MA, 02584, Tel: 508-325-5929.

The Wauwinet is the quintessential Nantucket shingle-style inn. The inn has 25 guest rooms in the main building and five luxury cottages. The property offers guests both private bay and ocean beaches and borders a nature preserve, where guests can walk and explore as they wish.

Real estate mogul Steve Karp and his wife bought the property in 1984. Everyone on the island thought he overpaid and would never turn a profit. The property was in disrepair and the location was perceived to be to far out of town. As Nantucket grew over the last 15 years, property values have soared. Mr. Karp spared no expense and renovated the entire property. The Wauwinet is now the only designated Relais & Chateaux property on Nantucket.

We checked in and were surprised to learn that we were staying in one of the luxury cottages named Haulover. It's a charming two-bedroom, two-bath cottage that's everything a cottage should be. Cozy. Cheerful. Compact. The queen size beds were piled high with decorative pillows just waiting to fall into. The decor was very refined, warm and cozy with antique pine furniture. The small patio off the front door had a patio table and chairs perfect for a private outdoor meal.

The spa is a short walk from any part of the hotel and is in a separate renovated house. A light and peaceful energy greets you as you enter The Spa By The Sea. There are a variety of massages to chose from such as stone therapy, reflexology and aromatherapy.

The various body treatment selections reflect the native environment of Nantucket and include the Cranberry Crush Body Treatment, the Garden Facial, and the Atlantic Seaweed Wrap. The spa's garden produces many of the seasonal flowers and herbs used in the various massages and treatments. One little secret that many people aren't aware of is that the spa can't advertise its services. It was a condition of getting the zoning approvals. However, it's open to the public and there are not that many places where you can get manicures and facials on the island. If you're in a bind and need help, why not call the Wauwinet and give The Spa By The Sea a try? Rates start at $380 per night for a guest bedroom in the inn. Cottages start at $1,020 for a one-bedroom and $1,250 to $1,450 per night for a two-bedroom. The Wauwinet, 120 Wauwinet Road, Nantucket, MA 02584, Tel: 508-228-0145.

Feeling refreshed, we got ready for our visit to one of the best restaurants Nantucket has to offer: Water Street. It's a restaurant where Nantucket's moving sands have brought together several people who patrons will follow religiously!

The owner and head chef Joshua Hollinger used to create dishes at the trendy establishment The Pearl on Federal Street. This is where he met his wife and the celebrity bartender Graeden Ambrose, who is known for his great personality and Matthew McConaughey-good looks. After leaving The Pearl, Graeden had a stint at The Galley and LoLa 41 but now has been reunited with his former colleagues at Water Street.

Water Street was born when Jay purchased the former family-style Italian restaurant Vincent's. A major renovation in 2006 was untaken and the new decor is urban New York City chic. The restaurant is on two levels with the main dining room on the first floor. Additional seating and the bar are located on the second.

JOHNNY JET TIP: Make your reservation for dinner for an early seating so that you can finish dining by 8pm. If you're planning to dine later, be aware that the small bar upstairs has a large following. Many of the patrons are there to get some face time with Graden who is treated like a local rock star. So finish up your dinner downstairs, then roll up your sleeves and be a part of all the fun upstairs, too! If you like specialty martinis, ask Graeden to make you his trademark "Enter The Dragon", which is made from orange, calamansi lime and cayenne pepper. It's got some heat on the finish. Watch out!

After cocktails we were seated along the far wall in the main dining room downstairs. It wasn't crowded and the candle and the table flowers added to the already intimate ambiance. If you're feeling especially romantic, there is just enough room for two to be seated on the leather banquettes along the wall.

Water Street's menu is derived from organic ingredients and high quality premium selections like the baby beet salad appetizer or grilled Niman Ranch lamb entree from California. The salad was delicious and was made from locally grown produce supplied by Bartlett Farms. The lamb, also delicious, was cooked to medium rare perfection; it comes from Niman Ranch, which is known in the business as having the finest natural meat products on the market.

Chef Jay paired a great Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc with the meal and an interesting Bordeaux Chateau Bel Air white wine with dessert. It was a sweet wine made from a Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend. The flavor had a hint of butterscotch on the finish. If you're a chocolate lover, then try the dessert wine with the Banana Chocolate Duo, which was is just the right size for two. Main courses range from $28 to $44. Water Street, 21 S. Water St., Nantucket, MA 02554, Tel: 508-228-7080.

A new complimentary guest service offered at The Cottages, which is located at 24 Old South Wharf, is the Beach Bus.

The bus was once operated by the old Harbor House Hotel and has been converted into a hip new service that will shuttle you to and from your favorite Nantucket beaches.

Getting to the beach in Nantucket can be easy enough even if you don't have a car. The local transportation system is top notch. A round-trip ride to the beach costs only $4. The problem is what to do if you'd like to bring your surfboard along with a cooler full of sandwiches and cold drinks. Don't forget the towels, umbrellas, chairs and a few fishing rods … plus the tackle box, too! Suddenly, your trip to the beach is a logistical challenge. Well, not on the rainbow-colored, polka-dotted Beach Bus. This ride comes fully loaded with all of those beach items and more fun toys than you could imagine. The cooler is not stocked so be sure to stock up with all the ice and eats you'll need beforehand. Then you can be living it up large at the beach all day. The driver, Kira, is a great guy and is fun to hang out with. He is an excellent surfer and is willing to give some pointers on how to get up and ride a few waves if you ask. He'll also carry all of the beach stuff to a convenient location of your choice and set it up for you. If you'd like to pick up a couple of the Ultimate Beach Chairs, then give Robert Sarkisian of The Nantucket Beach Chair Company a call: 508-325-7793. Or, click here to visit his website. We picked up two of the High Tide models. They were comfortable and well made out of red oak. We were finally ready to head out towards Madaket beach for an afternoon of fun in the sun.

JOHNNY JET TIP: Bypass the main beach in Madaket; the sand has slowly been taken away over the last several years. The beach is now dangerous due to all of the submerged pipes and foundations from the multi-million dollar homes that got swept out to sea. Instead, take a right off Madaket Road onto South Cambridge and continue over the old wooden bridge and bear right onto Head of Palms Road. This will take you to one of the best secret beaches on Nantucket, Tristan's Landing. It's safe for adults but it's not recommended for young children due to the riptides and large waves.

The Beach Bus is a great service and whoever thought of it is a marketing genius. I'd stay at Nantucket Resorts Cottages just for this benefit alone. Remember to tip generously if you like the service as much as I did. The Beach Bus At The Cottages, 24 Old South Wharf, Nantucket, MA 02554, Tel: 508-325-1499.

The Galley Restaurant is owned and operated by the brothers David and Jeffery Silva. The location at Cliff Side Beach Club at Jetties Beach used to be a hamburger and hot dog stand that serviced the private beach club next door in the 1950s. Their grandmother ran the business until the 1970s and then turned it over to her daughter. The brothers reluctantly took over the business in the 1990s and have successfully transformed the building and the restaurant into a one of the finest dining establishments in Nantucket. The Pearl Restaurant on Federal Street used to be the place where everybody on the island wanted to socialize and be seen. A changing of the guard has occurred and The Galley now has this reputation.

The Galley is the best place on the island to enjoy a cocktail and watch the sun sink below the horizon. The bar is very popular and you'll have to get there a little early to claim one of the bar height tables on the patio. The patrons at The Galley love to dress fashionably. It's a sophisticated crowd. Ladies wear cocktail dresses and gentlemen are dressed in smart casual attire. Bring a light jacket or a throw if you plan to sit outside; it can be chilly on the beach when the sun goes down. In fact, we unfortunately had to give up our outdoor reservation and move into the bar because it was too cold and we were not prepared.

You'll find that The Galley menu has fresh seafood that is supplied by local fishermen and the organic vegetables are homegrown on the island, too. The meal started off with a bottle of Stag's Leap Petite Syrah. It's a balanced red wine that has a silky smooth blackberry and hint of spice finish. Next came the Chogga Beet Salad, which is made from Macbe beets, toasted hazelnuts and hazelnut vinaigrette. If you're especially hungry, try ordering two appetizers because the portions are smaller than typical American-sized portions. I'd recommend the house specialty, New England Clam Chowder, as well.

The dinner menu changes at The Galley frequently due to the fresh seafood offerings. The main course was a steamed Scottish salmon. The recipe included Lundberg golden rose brown rice, brussel sprout leaves and a three citrus vapor. The salmon was steamed so that it broke apart effortlessly into thick delicious sections and the brussel sprout leaves added a balanced texture to the meal.

Another great service The Galley offers is their gourmet deli next door. It's connected to the kitchen and offers delicious sandwiches, desserts and cold drinks to go. We really enjoyed this restaurant because it offers great food and a picture perfect setting on Nantucket. Main courses range from $29 to $39. The restaurant is open daily 11:30am to 2pm and 6pm to 10pm. Call for off-season hours. Reservations are required for dinner. The Galley, 54 Jefferson Avenue, Nantucket, MA 02554, Tel: 508- 228-7080.

The constant moving sands of Nantucket have never effected 21 Federal's reputation as the island's most well established restaurant. The Greek revival-style structure is meticulously maintained and has proudly been a landmark at 21 Federal Street since 1847.

If Ralph Lauren was going to own a restaurant it would be 21 Federal. The elegant brass nameplate plaque and stately door beckon you inside. The crown moldings, sconce lighting and marine oil paintings remind me of the New York Yacht Club and the Ivy League.

The best place to be seated for dinner at 21 Federal is in the main dining room off the bar in the middle of the restaurant. It's a delight to dine here. The menu offers a selection of meat, poultry, and seafood and the wine list has some hard to find gems: Cakebread, Flowers, and Mary Edwards vintages. We were seated in the main dining room against the entryway wall, which is the best table for two in the house. There you'll be able to take in all the ambiance in a private setting.

We started the meal with an excellent bottle of Flowers Pinot Noir from California's Sonoma Coast. It was from the new 2006 vintage. It didn't disappoint. The finish is ultra smooth and the wine has cherry, raspberry and plum notes on the nose. If you see it on the wine list order it. It's very hard to get and is always on allocation.

The main course was a perfectly cooked medium rare rack of lamb. The portion was generous and served au jus and a medley of fresh vegetables. We'd had so much great food while we were on our getaway trip to Nantucket that dessert this time was not an option. However, the 21 Federal cheesecake with vanilla poached quince, mission fig, ruby port confit and almond shortbread crust is highly recommended. After dinner we headed to the famous 21 Federal back bar for an after dinner drink. This is a lively outdoor patio bar. Things really get going around 9pm and it can get crowded. If you're having dinner at the restaurant, you will not have a problem gaining access. However, if you're a walk-in, then there might be a significant wait on peak seasonal weekends. 21 Federal, 21 Federal St., Nantucket, MA 02554, Tel: 508-228-2121.

Our Reliant Air charter flight picked us up at the private terminal that services the luxury business aircraft at 4:30pm for the 35-minute flight home on Sunday. Looking back we'd really put together an awesome itinerary that covered a wide variety of dining, lording and outdoor activities. If you're interested in maximizing your valuable time and experiencing Nantucket like a seasoned travel pro, then make sure you consider booking a similar trip sometime in the near future.

Pictures From

The Trip


Cisco Brewers Courtyard


Samuel Adams Distilling Equipment


Cisco Brewers grows their own hops!


Spa By The Sea at the Wauwinet


Spa By The Sea Refreshments


The Haulover Cottage


The Wauwinet Patio


The Wauwinet overlooking Nantucket Harbor


Water Street


Water Street Has Gourmet Sandwiches to go too!


"Enter The Dragon"


Water Street Beet Salad


Water Street Little Neck Appetizer


The Perfect Summer White Wine


The Beach Bus


Kira will hook you up with everything you'll need!


The Galley Main Dining Room


The Galley al fresco dining


Stag's Leap Petite Syrah "A Jewel"


The Galley Sunset


21 Federal had the Flowers YES!


21 Federal tomato water appetizer


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