Written By: Josh Gray | Photography By: Kit Noble
Patrick Ridge has expanded his mid-island restaurant Island Kitchen.
Serving a packed house for breakfast, lunch, and dinner year-round, Island Kitchen has become one of the mid-island staples that many here on Nantucket can’t imagine living without. With his small dining room bursting at the seams over the past couple of summers, owner Patrick Ridge recently expanded Island Kitchen across the parking lot and into the neighboring building, formerly the home of the Grey Lady.
“At first we wanted the space for the parking for the existing business,” says Ridge, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and former head chef of Le Languedoc Bistro. “But we realized we really did need more space in our kitchen to help the staff and reduce some of the stress of working in a really small area.”
While expanding his footprint and menu offerings, Ridge’s addition offers a spacious outdoor seating area equipped with a large, outdoor bar. Another bar with additional seating for dining is located on the second floor. Meanwhile, much of the first floor is taken up by Ridge’s secret obsession. For the last two years, he’s been perfecting recipes for homemade ice cream and homemade doughnuts.
Ridge traveled the country sampling the best ice cream and doughnuts to craft a menu of finger-licking-good delights now offered at Island Kitchen. Of the thirty-two ice cream flavors, ten could be considered traditional staples, while the other twenty range from blueberry pie to Captain Crunch cereal. “We want to make the best ice cream on the planet,” Ridge says.
On the doughnut front, he and his team are crafting a wide variety of yeast-raised pastries (think Krispy Kreme) that will complement an already robust breakfast menu. The popular lunch and dinner menus have also expanded to include eight new appetizers such as fried oysters, clams, and chicken quenelles, as well as three new sandwiches, including crab cake and Portobello mushrooms sandwiches.
To accommodate these expansions, Ridge has added nearly twenty new employees to his staff. “When I say I have the best team, I really mean just that,” says Ridge. “This is not a solitary effort, and to be honest I have a lot less to do with the success of Island Kitchen than people think. It’s a nice feeling knowing we all feel at home here.” On a weekend in late June, Ridge and his team handled fifteen catering jobs and served more than eight hundred covers in the restaurant.
The icing on the Island Kitchen cake is an adjoining retail space where Holly Finigan, the founder and editor of Nantucket blACKbook, is running a series of pop-up shops featuring a variety of labels, including her own Happy Place brand.
Dining at Island Kitchen is offered seven days a week for three meals a day throughout much of the year. The outdoor dining patio and bar will operate seasonally. Patrick Ridge sees his mid-island neighborhood as becoming the new “down-town” to the year-round community, an area that will continue to grow and meet the needs of an ever-expanding island population.