Written By: Josh Gray | Photography By: Kit Noble
If you’re not paying attention, you could walk right past it. The simple glass facade of Nantucket’s newest restaurant on South Water Street is marked only by white trim and a small red sign hanging above its door reading Station 21. However, the energy buzzing from within is unmistakable, a harbinger of the fact that serial restaurateur Marco Coelho has created yet another recipe for culinary gold.
Set in the former home of Seth and Angela Raynor’s Corazon del Mar, Station 21 opened in late-July after receiving a complete renovation, which is delightfully reminiscent of a bar you might find in New York City’s Meatpacking District. Collaborating with the Andersen Company, architect Matt MacEachern, principal of Emeritus Development, led the charge in redesigning Station 21. “The primary issue with the existing space was that it was divided or separated from floor to floor,” MacEachern explained. “There was no continuity or connection between spaces – in many ways it felt as two separate restaurants. Marco’s bold suggestion was to open the second floor area to the first and relocated the bar at the first floor. This may be perceived as counterintuitive from a restaurateur’s perspective (reducing seats) but brilliant in that it unified the space as a collective whole. A far as the interior space, we wanted to the interior to tell a story of impart a sense of history to the space. Each material needed speak to an implied historic use. Exposed brick, heavy textured plaster, hand hewn timbers all contribute to a storied past and use.”
Joining MacEachern in designing Station 21’s interior was Audrey Sterk. “Because the building was originally the Station boat house, we wanted keep the character of the historic building,” Sterk explains. “The interior is a real merge of historic building with industrial and modern elements creating a classic look that will be inviting and create a backdrop for the amazing culinary delights!”
“Lots of restaurants on Nantucket have a similar look, but I wanted to try and do something different,” Marco Coelho says, referencing the brick walls and distinct tiled flooring. “I wanted to go for a cool, New York feel, where Lola [Coelho’s other restaurant] might have more of a European vibe.”
An intentional air of exclusivity adds to Station 21’s trendy New York feel. “I want my clientele to enjoy their time here and not feel packed in,” Coelho says. “So you really do need to call for a reservation. You can’t walk in at 7:30 and expect to sit.” And if you don’t believe him, Station 21’s smartly dressed doorman will be sure to remind you.
Starting things off with cocktails, Station 21’s beverage director Mark Daley shakes up a variety of unique concoctions, including a delicious tequila-based cocktail called El Chapo. The drink is named after Mexico’s fugitive drug kingpin, and after a couple of them, you’ll see why — they’re deadly. When it comes time to dine, executive chef Robert Boslow, who helms the kitchen at Lola as well, has crafted a menu with a number of delicious options of varied influences and origins.
The menu opens with rich, decadent starters such as warm Nantucket oysters drizzled with an espelette hollandaise or sweet corn and lobster arancini. For those looking for something more conservative, try the house ricotta bruschetta. A short pasta menu offers medium-sized plates such as the house-made pappardelle with rabbit stemperata or a delightful ricotta gnudi with wild mushrooms and chive créme fraiche. Highlights for entrées include a braised beef cheek sandwich, and grilled tuna served rare on a bed of sesame-glazed asparagus, sugar snap peas, mizuna and crispy shallots. The rest of the menu does not disappoint with dishes like sautéed salmon, roasted chicken, and steak frites, to name a few.
Station 21 is partnered with the Ceruzzi Holdings and Restaurant Group of Connecticut, whose principals own homes on Nantucket. It will be open seasonally, serving dinner through mid-October — with the possibility of a Halloween party at the end of the month — before reopening between Thanksgiving and Christmas Stroll to round out the year.