THE GREYDON HOUSE
On Nantucket, the Greydon House and its most excellent restaurant Via Mare are the spots to go to
With its envious corner location in the heart of town, and an exterior of two distinctly different yet harmonious structures (one French countryside, the other Greek Revival whaling cottage) connected by a discrete entrance, Greydon House smoothly pulls off the balancing act of having a distinct personality of its own while managing to blend in seamlessly with its Nantucket history and neighbors. This theme continues as you step into the lobby where interior design firm Roman and Williams have evoked the spirit of a sea-faring family or whaling captain with impeccable taste in antiques, furniture, and art.
The reception area has a traditional Nantucket palate with a subtle array of weathered woods and textures. Hand-painted Portuguese tile work provides a nice pop of color and pieces of contemporary art help give the space a more comfortable vibe than many of its Nantucket counterparts.
Each of the hotel’s 20 rooms have their own theme, with unique pieces of carefully curated furniture, lamps and art. Nothing looks too expensive or too old to sit on or use, but the handmade quality of the chairs and furniture and the vintage patina and craftsmanship apparent on every piece still makes you feel like you are staying somewhere special.
I stayed in a spacious king bedroom on the garden level with a full-sized vintage bathtub and a 100-year-old wooden chair and desk combination that was surprisingly comfortable. The staff is friendly, helpful and equipped with all the local knowledge you need about restaurants, shops, and beaches. However, one of my favorite restaurants in Nantucket is in the attached building so you won’t have to go far to enjoy some delicious food and wine in truly unique surroundings.
That restaurant is Via Mare and they describe themselves as “A Venetian restaurant, of sorts,” which had me intrigued because I love places that can pull off top-level food and service while not taking themselves too seriously. Open the menu and you start seeing dishes like Ricotta-Stuffed Agnolotti with ramps, peas two ways and prosciutto next to Cumin Lamb with Sichuan Peppercorns. Inventive, eh?
For starters, the local oysters from beds about 30 yards off the Nantucket coast are a must. They are medium to small sized with deep cups and a nice balance between sweet and briny. I took advantage of the impressively diverse wine list and splurged for a Jacquesson Cuvee 740 NV. The list is not huge but has everything on it anyone could want, from bottles under $100 (at least at the time of me writing this) up to Romanee Conti for a couple grand a bottle (which, oddly, WONDERLUST wouldn’t stump for). The Champagne was delicious with the oysters but better with the crisp and bright citrus salad that came next.
The entrees started with what I would call a scallop en brodo consisting of Maine scallops with peas, baby bok choy and a heady dashi broth that combined and amplified the fresh flavors and textures in the bowl. Next up, the Sichuan Cumin Lamb, and as someone who spent a week in Chengdu, China, I can attest to this being a proper, rustic cumin lamb dish that would probably be called “dry pot” style over there. It had just the right amount of numbing Sichuan peppercorns to offset the heat from the chilis that was not so strong that it compromised my palate for the next course, which was the agnolotti I mentioned above. This dish was all about subtle textures and flavor combinations with crunchy peas and ramps playing off the stringy saltiness of the prosciutto, and the ricotta stuffed agnolotti acting as a velvety blanket, bringing an element of luxuriousness in with each bite.
On an island that has many of the same predictably delicious types of restaurants and dishes, Via Mare gets a bit more adventurous, employing global techniques and preparations while keeping the focus on local ingredients and flavors.
The same can be said for Greydon House, which draws design inspiration from around the world while respecting the history of the area and a distinct sense of local character.