Seaside Eateries

Garde East – Fine Dining on Vineyard Haven

We were in Vineyard Haven Sunday for day three of our four day Island Tour. We left Cuttyhunk early to beat the small craft warnings on Vineyard Sound.

I was hoping the weather would turn for the better, but it never really did. So the plan for the day quickly became go out for lunch, watch the Sox beat up the Yankees on Relentless, and go out for dinner.

Martha’s Vineyard Foodies all know that Vineyard Haven is a tad challenged when it comes to dining out. There’s the venerable Black Dog Tavern with its old Cape Cod Charm and the list gets short after that.

In 2019 we discovered Beach Road, but they’re just doing take out these days as a result the government induced Labor Crunch of 2021.

There is an Italian restaurant in town call La Soffitta, but for some strange reason they close on Sundays and don’t do lunch. And the only other decent sit down dining venue in town – the Copper Wok was another victim of the government’s Covid lockdowns and has closed up.

We were planning on going to the Black Dog for lunch, but they close from noon to 1:00 on Sundays to switch over from breakfast to lunch and thanks to the early morning departure, everyone was getting hungry.

Garde East serves lunch, but since I had reservations there for dinner, we took a cab to Edgartown for lunch.

Needless to say, in light of this, my expectations for Garde East were pretty high, so I was kinda prepared to be disappointed.

The Venue

Garde East only a few hundred yards from the Black Dog Wharf – in fact here’s a photo of Relentless I shot from the patio…

It was still a gray day when we arrived, but it’s clear this place was designed to optimize beach front dining…

The Outside Patio at Garde East
View from the 2nd Floor Dining-room at Garde East

Garde East’s $10 Bread Service

A good friend told Mrs. Horne that she’d heard some bad reports about Garde East. When she pressed for details, the only problem seemed to be that they charge $10 for bread service.

The reviews on Yelp are generally favorable and the negative ones almost all mentioned the $10 bread service.

As a decent home chef, I tend to order things in restaurants that I don’t do at home. Having been a lifelong Keto eater, I seldom eat bread at home, so when I dine out, I often consider the bread service as an appetizer.

In most nice restaurants, an appetizer or first course usually costs more than $10, so what’s the problem with paying that for incredible bread?

So of course the first thing I did was order the bread!

The $10 Bread Service at Garde East

It’s a fresh, perfectly cooked, cross between a Ciabatta and a Focaccia. It has a soft center and a very light crust topped with a drizzle of honey. The butter is also honey flavored, perfectly pre-softened, and garnished with chives. I was certainly not disappointed!

Garde East offers a 30 page wine list, but surprisingly, there was nothing there that interested me. They also had about twenty different wines by the glass including Peju for $21/glass. We both ordered a glass and quite wisely Mrs. Horne asked if we could buy a bottle and what it would cost.

Our server said “The same as four glasses – $84,” and we said “yes please…”

I certainly would have ordered this in an instant if it was on the long wine list for $84. It’s also a bit of bargain since the wine glasses at Garde East are more Chardonnay glasses than Bordeaux. I wasn’t counting, but I’m sure we got 6 or 7 glasses out of that bottle.

Mrs. Horne ordered the Roasted Beet Salad…

The Roasted Beet Salad at Garde East

Mrs. Horne loves beet salads and orders it almost as often as she orders Caesar. I generally sneak a beet just to test it out, so I’ve tasted many a beet salad.

The Beet Salad ($18) at Garde East was incredible. Many beet salads take the easy route and used homemade pickled beets. Garde East roasts them and the texture is similar to that of a roasted potato. Of course room temperature Goat Cheese and pecans bring all the flavor bombs one could ask for.

We decided to split the Rack of Lamb ($56)…

Rack of Lamb at Garde East

Perfectly executed from the Demi Glacé to the artfully Frenched rib bones. Mrs. Horne wanted the Puréed Cauliflower and Asparagus, so I ordered a side of Roasted Fingerlings…

Roasted Fingerling at Garde East

Much like the Roasted Beets, the potatoes were perfectly roasted – soft inside with a thin crispy outside.

It was truly fine dining in Vineyard Haven. Our bill ended up being $185 and I left a $40 tip. I will certainly return the next time I’m here.

As we left, we could see that it might be possible to walk back to Relentless along the beach, so we did. It enabled me to catch this nice photo of her sitting at Black Dog Wharf…

Categories: Seaside Eateries

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