In the heart of Woods Hole stands a charming old fish shack which has for decades operated under the name The Fishmonger but has recently been re-modeled, re-conceived and re-launched as the Water Street Kitchen & Public House. Buzz on the street has been excellent, and I finally had some down time this weekend to catch a meal at the bar, less than a block from the Woods Hole Inn.
The old Monger — as locals liked to call it — was rich with lore. People still talk about the thick cut fresh toast, inventive pies baked daily, piping hot coffee served on wooden tables. In it’s heyday in the 1970’s, the Monger was at the center of local life in Woods Hole.
So, it is totally fitting that the group behind this transformation are led by Molly and Chelsea Doohan (who grew up right here in Woods Hole) along with Molly’s husband, the talented chef John Wilson. This new restaurant is truly a Woods Hole family affair, and you can feel the genuine warmth the minute you walk in the door.
The dining room has been painted a glam slate grey, lit with low light creating a romantic atmosphere. The curved bar is well stocked with craft and vintage bottles, and small plates are from a Victorian grandmother’s collection which when combined with delightfully chilled cocktail glasses add to the the authentic family feel.
Views are as dramatic as always, with the building perched on the waterfront close to the drawbridge. The night I was there, the fog rolled in and created a seaside ambiance which made a great backdrop to attentive service.
And then there is the food. Chef Wilson is a man of considerable talent, and his unfettered vision is in full swing here in the Water Street Kitchen menu.
We started with the house baked bread with radish butter ($4), and added several “small plates” including a revelatory warm goat cheese in olive oil with a spicy cranberry relish and freshly sliced toasts ($8).
Then we tried the pan fried shishito peppers with a nori aioli ($9) and the yellowfin tuna tartare subtly flavored with Nobska Farm chilis, olive oil, lemon and sea salt ($15). Both dishes were excellent, with well balanced flavors and just the right size portion.
We opted to share the Water Street burger which is ground beef and brisket plus a braised short rib served on a sweet bun with a roasted tomato and a slice of gouda cheese ($17). The inventive and delicious “togarashi frites” are on the side, and it’s worth a visit just to try these beauties.
While we were quite full, it was not possible to leave without trying the dark chocolate pretzel tart ($8), which was a salty sweet dream — crust made of crushed pretzels, rich dark chocolate and a peanut butter mousse filled with strawberries on top. No Saturday evening is complete without an aperitif of which there is a thoughtful list — I went with the Burmester Ten Year Tawny Port – perfect preparation for the foggy walk home.
The log line at the Water Street Kitchen is “modern flavor, local roots” and that does a good job of capturing the experience of eating here. Check out the whole menu, and start dreaming about your next visit to our charmed village by the sea.
We are excited to welcome the Water Street Kitchen to the roster of waterfront restaurants that cluster the harbor here in scenic Woods Hole. Woods Hole Inn guests (and locals like me!) are lucky to have this option for fine dining during a stay in the Cape Cod village of Woods Hole, MA.
And best of all, the spirit of the Monger lives another day.