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Martha's Vineyard Attracts the Upwardly Mobile

March 16, 1986|SANFORD KREISBERG | Kreisberg is a Somerville, Mass., free-lance writer.

EDGARTOWN, Mass. — For every yuppie there is a season, and when that season is summer, yuppies in the know turn, turn, turn to Martha's Vineyard.

Because Martha's Vineyard is an island city, and everything a yuppie loves about the hard-driving, upwardly mobile, dual-career urban life style is here in sea-changed summer form. Including:

--An uptown: residential, celebrity-studded and gloriously scenic (quaintly called up-island by the natives); and three working downtowns--each with enough silk-screened clothing boutiques, exotic plant stores, soap and notion shops and antique porcelain purveyors to send your gold credit card into overdrive.

--Restaurants: butcher-block and plant restaurants, picture-post card restaurants, country restaurants and restaurants off the beaten path.

--Beaches: public, private, clothed, nude, and one where you dip yourself into clay pits.

--The right people: Jackie O, Art B, Walter C and an alphabet of other media, political and corporate stars.

--Real estate: for sale, rent and development.

In short: Status, charm, upward mobility, celebrities and shopping.

Up and Down

The Island (preferred nomenclature), a triangle about 20 miles long and nine miles wide, five miles south of Cape Cod, is unofficially divided into up-island--the sparsely populated, country-roaded, expensive acreage of Chilmark, West Tisbury, Menemsha and Gay Head--and down-island--the busy main streets of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. All three down-island towns are along the eastern side of the triangle.

The way to do the Vineyard is to rent a house up-island for one or two weeks.

The way to arrive is by ferry from Woods Hole on Cape Cod with car and bike rack, Steamship Authority to the natives: phone (617) 540-2022. Upper-yups can fly in and rent the cars and bikes. Reserve ferry space just as soon as you nail down the house. For two and the BMW it's $62.

Super yuppie ferry status is a four-wheel-drive Land Rover with Off-Road Vehicle Permit on the windshield, surfcasting gear in the front, Lucy Vincent Beach permit on the side window, bikes on the roof and a horse trailer behind.

You can, and should, check out Edgartown, Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs attractions and restaurants. Edgartown, the county seat, is a preppy Disneyland, old money, old houses (including Emily Post's), new crowds, and gentrified streets.

Island Funk

Oak Bluffs is island funk, quaintly cramped and computer-chip packed with its famous cookie-cutter housing. Vineyard Haven is charming, older and literary.

The down-island restaurant for the moment is the Ocean Club, a celebrity, fish-and-pasta place. Friendly, fans on the ceiling, wood on the floor. The food is good. Dress sharp. No reservations except for parties over five. Beach Street, Vineyard Haven, 693-4763.

The Black Dog Tavern, also Beach Street in Vineyard Haven, 693-9223. Well-known weekend brunch hangout. Ramshackle, hearty, nice ocean view if you're lucky. Expect to wait.

The Hot Tin Roof, famous disco-restaurant. Eat elsewhere, but this is for hassle-free hip fun, live and great deejay-played music, and dancing. Plenty of honey-limbed youngsters. If you're a couple and stay away from discos, give this one a try. If you're single and looking, a must. At the airport.

Chez Pierre at the Charlotte Inn on South Summer Street, Edgartown, 627-8947. Called by the Boston Globe's reliable food critic the best and most expensive French restaurant on the island.

Places to Seek Out

The biggest mistake first-timers make is staying down-island. The following up-island restaurants all require reservations and a good map, but seeking them out is what separates the yups from the nopes.

The Beach Plus Inn and Restaurant, off North Road, Menemsha, 645-9454: Eatery of choice for the Chilmark and Menemsha Fortune 500 crowd. Wonderful, unhurried atmosphere, nouvelle cuisine of distinction, heavenly desserts and homemade ice cream. Reservations a little hard to come by; call as early as you can--before you arrive on the island. Not snobby, just in demand.

Lambert's Cove Country Inn, off Lambert's Cove Road, West Tisbury, 693-2298. The vine-covered, stone-walled farmhouse, picture-book inn of your fantasies. Sunday brunch for the full Technicolor effect; dinner also a treat. The rooms are also out of a movie set, if you're interested in lodging ($80-$95, double). Reservations a must, especially for brunch.

The Home Port, at Dutcher Dock, Menemsha, famous seafood platter restaurant. If you're not looking for quiet charm and are hungry, this is the place.

Wine and liquor note: Edgartown and Oak Bluffs are wet, the rest of the island is dry. So it's a BYOB to any restaurant in Vineyard Haven or up-island. The restaurants will provide set-ups.

Bike ride in the cool morning to continental breakfast at the Patisserie Francaise, Main Street, Vineyard Haven (French coffee and homemade croissants), followed by a quick jaunt up West Chop (north on Main Street) for a fast look at Buchwald-Styron territory.

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