a piece of the inside trACK…

by guest blogger Holly Finigan

Ever find yourself stuck in a Nantucket eatery rut, always going to your “tried and true” spots, not realizing tried can quickly turn into tired?

Here, local blogger, bartender, often-about-town-socialite, (but sometimes Miacomet-Hermit-Crab) lets you know her go-to’s, when you have a specific dining goal in mind.

You’re on a “I’m trying to impress you” date. You want a little romance. You want to “wine + dine” and you don’t want to run into everyone and your ex-boyfriends mother. Where do you head?
You call ahead and you make a reservation at American Seasons. Entering into their 25th season on 80 Centre Street, you’ll find candlelight dining with a menu to stir up your senses and a wine list to satisfy even the pickiest of vino-snobs. The tables are intimate and between the light sounds of Norah Jones and Jack Johnson in the background, and muffled conversations of the two- and four-tops around you, you’ll find enough reason why everyone loves to get away from it all in this right-on-the-edge-of-town-gem. Bonus! On a date with someone who doesn’t like the feel of a dining room? Check out their adorable 5-seater bar, where you can eat and enjoy all the magic while you get a little more interaction with the other barflies.

You’re on a pseudo-date, but you mostly want the action. You want to hang out and flirt with your server just as much as you want to share food and cocktails with your friends. You want the music loud, the energy pumping, and you don’t care if you can’t linger at your hot-spot of a round-top table. Where are you going?
You’re headed to LoLa 41 on 15 South Beach Street. Here you’ll get your sushi, your burger, and your cocktails quickly and you’ll soak in the scene while you see people spy enviously at your coveted table. You are in and out in 90 minutes, but that doesn’t keep you from getting your drink on and keeping the sashimi a-comin’. Finish your night with their signature dessert, the tres leches. (Condensed white milk cake, housemade caramel sauce, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries!) Or if you’re in the mood for a classy red-bull and vodka to get you going to the next spot, order their legendary Espresso Martini, which is considered dessert to lots of people out here.

You’re out with your family. You have grandparents, grandchildren and the grandness of a party of 12. You need to find a place that is kid friendly but also want to make sure you can dine well and have the oldens and youngsters be comfortable. Where does the taxi drop you off?
So you are going to head out to Madaket Milies on 326 Madaket Road. They take reservations for parties of 8 adults or more in the summertime, so there is a little perk of getting “in” before you get all the way “out” there. You’ll find a kids menu with quesadillas and chips and salsa along with the gamut of gourmet fish and steak tacos, fried clams, lobster rolls and big salads. Sip on their margaritas or their infamous “Madaket Mystery” and toast to another gorgeous day with the family as you watch the sun go down at this new island favorite. (note: open super seasonally, so call ahead.)

You’re out and about for drinks and light apps and you’re looking to bar hop in town at the summers hottest “see and be seen” spots. How do you go about this?
Here is how the ultimate Nantucket bar crawl works. You start out at Galley Beach to watch the sunset with a glass of champagne and your friends all around you. You get the urge for a change of scene once the sun goes down so you grab a cab (especially if the ladies are in heels) and get dropped off at the Wharf. You head into the Straight Wharf for a Goombay Smash and try to squeeze yourself in at the bar for their lighter bar/grille menu fare. You then pay your tab and walk down to the end of the wharf to check out CRU, (formerly the Ropewalk) and the newest restaurant on the Rock, destined to be a hot spot with the restaurant savvy partners of Jane Stoddard, Carlos Hidalgo and Chef Erin Zircher. Here you can have a great glass of white wine while you order off their oyster bar and get a new feel of this old island establishment. You end the night at the always-pumping back bar at Ventuno, where the tables are pushed to the outskirts and the entire awning is filled with all your friends and soon to be new buddies. You’re all packed in like sardines, listening to hit tunes as the Ketel-sodas and Bud lights are flowing around like Nantucket water. (And after that inevitable last call, you dial a taxi again for that necessary cab ride home!)

You’re in the mood for a really, really, really good dessert and an after dinner drink. You want to see a little bit of the scene but you aren’t into a full night out on the town. Where can you go for a little lounge feel?
You go directly to DUNE restaurant on 20 Broad Street. With a great selection to satisfy any sweet tooth, DUNE mixes up all kinds of house made concoctions like a cheese plate with four different cheeses, drizzled in honey and garnished with figs and candied walnuts. Or is you’re in a more sweet than savory mode, try their trio of decadent chocolate mini portions, or a blueberry mint creme brûlée.  You’ll also find a a handful of homemade ice creams with flavors like pear-honey, chocolate-bourbon and my personal favorite, bacon-maple which needs to be tested out on every bacon lover in the world.

With all the shifting and changing of our island eateries, 2012 is sure to be a banner (and oh-so-delish) year on our Nantucket!

Holly Finigan has worked all over the island, from slinging drinks behind the bars of LoLa 41, Corazon del Mar, and the Brant Point Grill, to writing about her love for the island in the Inquirer Mirror, Mahon About Town, and on her popular blog the Nantucket blACKbook. You can read more of her writings at www.hollyblACKbook.blogspot.com or check out her website about all things hip and fresh at www.nantucketblACKbook.com.

When she is not writing amongst the dunes at Tristams Landing or gabbing with her girlfriends at Centre Street Bistro, you can find her bartending upstairs at Ventuno in what she affectionally refers to as “Holly’s House.” Want to chat Nantucket with Holly? Email her at holly@nantucketblACKbook.com.