Published August 30, 2009
By Jessica Rodrigo
There are many definitions for the term sidecar to many it’s a drink, to others it’s an additional seat to a motorcycle or, in the case of Sidecar Café and Bar, it’s a epicurean delight and one of the best places to get away from the hustle and bustle on Circuit Avenue.
Manager Scott Mullin explains that the name came from location of the restaurant. “It’s a ‘sidecar’ to Circuit Avenue,” says Mullin. Located in Oak Bluffs on Kennebec Avenue, a few steps off the beaten path traveled by so many, the Sidecar Café and Bar is not a place to skipped during a visit to Martha’s Vineyard.
Sidecar is open for dinner every day at 5 p.m. with a wide selection of menu items to tantalize the taste buds of the adventurous or the fussiest of eaters. Head Chef Kyle Garell has put together a menu to include the freshest farm ingredients and the most succulent seafood caught around the Island.
“I try to spend at two hours every morning at Island farms like Fiddlehead and North Tabor,” explains Garell. “Every special is purely local, from the fish to the farm-fresh produce.”
To stay within the theme of fresh and local fare, the head chef created a beautifully plated and equally palatable special of striped bass served with Fiddlehead Farm fingerling potatoes, a medley of farm greens and a refreshing gazpacho sauce. A perfect summer dish that took advantage of the local crops and sea bounty.
“When I buy produce,” tells Garell of his pickings that Wednesday morning, “I buy for today. I picked the greens and I cut the cucumbers myself.”
The chef’s attention to detail in choosing the flora and fauna for each dish shows. The bright greens on each plate are signs of ripeness and the vibrant colors of each sauce and puree explode into flavors that complement each entrée.
Being located on the Vineyard lends the menu to a slight specialization of seafood dishes. The menu presents a pan-seared wild salmon, scallops and a local favorite and popular dish on the Island — lobster macaroni and cheese. Despite finding lobster macaroni and cheese around the Island, written on chalkboards and listed as a daily special from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown, Sidecar’s rendition of the local dish brings back simple nostalgia of making mac and cheese at home out of a box, in a pot with milk, butter and water. The creamy, velvety texture of the cheese on the pasta and the large pieces of claw and tail meat, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs put the dish in a class pedestals above the boxed version that many of us have childhood memories of.
From the small plates to the entrees on the menu, the dishes are made to please any appetite. For small appetites, look to the small plates to satiate you until dinner, the includes sweet potato fries served with a chipotle lime mayonnaise,
the steamed mussels cooked with linguica, garlic, tomato, red pepper flakes and white wine and cod-fishcakes served with fresh house greens and a scallion-mustard remoulade sauce.
Entrees are plated with visual eaters in mind (considering that we eat with our eyes before our mouths), each with bright colors that stand out on crisp white plates. Sauces and dressings like the beet and honey coulis (a French-style sauce that can be made sweet or savory to accompany dishes) with the wild salmon or the carrot, orange and ginger sauce that comes with the scallops are so delicious the plate may go back to the kitchen without a speck on it.
Chef Garell is so proud of the menu that he boasts inviting his friends to eat at Sidecar. “If I worked anywhere else,” says Garell, “I probably wouldn’t invite people to eat there.”
Ensuring that the enjoyment of the dishes goes well-beyond the realm of flavor, the Sidecar Café and Bar has indoor and outdoor seating, a bar for nightcaps and dessert drinks and a lounge in the back with a killer-awesome fridge couch designed by Adrian Johnson out of a 1982 Gibson Refrigerator and a 1988 BMW 325e back seat. With music from ranging from the jazzy of note of Louie Armstrong to an eclectic mix of melodies and tune, relaxation and fun times with friends are easy to achieve. At night, the lights over the patio seating simulate as a blanket of stars against the dark night’s sky.
Although Circuit Avenue is one of the many attractions of Oak Bluffs, make sure you don’t miss the Sidecar Café and Bar — you would be disappointed if you did.