Met on Main

This summer’s wave of new restaurant openings has brought a fresh sense of style and sophistication to dining on Main Street.

by: Lindsay Pykosz

photography by: Terry Pommett

This is particularly true for MET on MAIN, the fifth restaurant by mainland restaurateur and Nantucket summer resident Kathy Sidell, whose newest addition replaces the Even Keel Café on Main Street.

The restaurant opened in late June, and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., with an extensive cocktail and bar menu available inside or on the outdoor rear patio.

The location is one of particular significance for Sidell, as it is the former Sweet Shop where she had her very first job as a teenager.

The historic building has a long and storied history on Main Street, including stints as a bowling alley, a five and dime, a candy shop, and for the last 20-plus years, a modestly-priced cafe and restaurant known as the Espresso Café and then the Even Keel, which both became beloved downtown destinations for summer visitors and year-round island residents.

Ownership of the property has changed hands among some of Nantucket’s most iconic businessmen and real-estate players, including Preston Manchester, Walter Beinecke, First Winthrop Corp. and now Steve Karp’s Nantucket Island Resorts, which acquired the building along with 54 other downtown retail properties in 2005.

Sidell said she hopes it will become a place for year-round and summer residents to enjoy.

“Nantucket has always been a magical place for me and my family,” she said. “I hope to capture some of that magic with the creation of MET on MAIN. It is also my hope that MET on MAIN will become a destination place where residents and visitors alike can come in and enjoy a homemade muffin for breakfast, terrific salads for lunch and a refreshing cocktail on our patio with friends and family.”

The layout is chic and tasteful, but not overdone, the ambiance light and fun, inviting for families and couples alike. If you remember the old Even Keel layout, you’re in for a bit of a surprise, as the takeout counter has been replaced by a raw bar that offers clams on the half-shell, king-crab legs and half-lobsters.

The open entryway and hostess area boast two cozy window seats perfect for two that face the bar and dining area. The L-shaped bar extends nearly the entire length of the restaurant, creating plenty of seating for customers.

The spacious rear patio is surrounded by lush greenery and adorned with Moroccan lanterns, creating a relaxed yet intimate vibe.

MET’s eclectic cuisine encompasses a blend of Asian, Mexican, Polynesian and American flavors, mixed in with home-grown vegetables and freshly-caught seafood. The core of the menu features a selection of signature items from Sidell’s other restaurants: The MET Back Bay in Boston, The Metropolitan Club in Chestnut Hill and MET Bar & Grills in Dedham and Natick.

One of the many highlights of the dinner menu is the tartare and raw bar, MET’s answer to sushi which features anywhere from six to 10 selections. The modern tartares are made with raw and cooked vegetables, grains, hand-selected local fish and the finest beef. Each item is named after a global location – “The Manhattan,” “The Cabo,” or “The Tokyo” – reminiscent of some of Sidell’s favorite destinations.

If seafood is what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place. Appetizers include New England clam chowder with bacon mashed potatoes and a tower of clams, prime sirloin, yellowtail tuna and salmon on the tartare bar, and a raw bar selection of littleneck clams, oysters, blue crab, octopus and jumbo shrimp cocktail.

The mussels appetizer is cooked to perfection, served in a simmering bowl of cured tomatoes, zucchini frites, basil and white wine. The cold-poached artichoke is filled with sweet tomatoes and basil, a simple yet delicious way to begin a meal.

MET on MAIN doesn’t skimp on portions. Its Lobster Taco Salad is served in a large, home-made taco-shell bowl filled to the brim with generous pieces of fresh lobster meat, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, corn, pepitas and a Green Goddess dressing, named for its greenish tint, all for $28.

If local, fresh vegetables are what you’re looking for, the Roasted Bartlett’s Vegetable Salad with summer squash, lettuce, tomato, asparagus, burrata – a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream – avocado and a lemon vinaigrette for $16 is the way to go. The combination is light and refreshing with a pleasant crunch.

The pan-seared sesame scallops with an avocado and papaya salad and edamame are mouthwatering.

If you have room for dessert, the Sweet Shop Sundae, a tribute to Sidell’s first summer job, is the perfect treat: vanilla, dulce de leche and coffee-fudge ice cream, a brownie, hot fudge, malted milk, whipped cream, marcona almonds and a maraschino cherry. A healthier option is the Summer Fruit Cobbler, a mix of fresh fruit served with vanilla-bean ice cream.

MET is also putting a grown-up twist on a childhood treat – soft-serve ice cream – and will feature one-of-a-kind flavors like hibiscus and strawberry, beach plum and lychee, elderflower and blueberry.

Sandwiches, salads and burgers highlight MET’s lunch menu, and beach-goers have the option to take their lunch to go in a MET on MAIN Beach Box.

Breakfast at MET includes a fun “Build Your Own Pancake Bar,” similar to the one at its sister restaurant, The Metropolitan Club, where customers will be provided with an assortment of toppings and fillings, including chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, Nutella, caramel or candied bacon.

A juice bar, similar to the one at MET Back Bay, is another option for those who are more health-conscious. Creative drinks, like the Green Hurricane, feature green juice – tarragon, spinach, basil, kale, mint and lemon – with yogurt smoothies like “Buddha’s Best,” a mix of pineapple, mango and aloe, also available. O

Lindsay Pykosz is a staff writer at The Inquirer and Mirror, Nantucket’s newspaper since 1821.

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