Chatham Raw Bar

By / Photography By Doug Langeland | July 01, 2015
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Steve Vining, Tim O'Brien, Mike Lewis
Chatham Raw Bar owner Steve Vining, executive chef Tim O’Brien and raw bar manager Mike Lewis.

How do you celebrate the 25th anniversary of your already insanely popular restaurant? If you’re Steve Vining, owner of Bistro on Main in Chatham (formerly known as Vining’s Bistro), it’s by taking over the lease of the adjacent property, thereby increasing your indoor seating capacity by fifty percent. As Vining succinctly puts it,

“Opportunity knocked and I answered.”

Andrew Duvol
Oyster shell chandelier
Photo 1: bartender Andrew Duvol
Photo 2: Light fixture made from oyster shells

The stunning new space, called Chatham Raw Bar, was designed by head bartender Andrew Bowman and Vining himself. It features a 40-foot-long acid-washed copper-topped bar over which hang copper nautical pendant lights. Crisp white walls, mahogany bar shelves and trim, a hand-painted indigo blue skyscape on the ceiling and vintage marine navigation equipment complete the nautical theme. A large window on the west wall provides a view of Oyster Pond where Chatham Oysters, a raw bar menu mainstay, are harvested.

Mike Lewis
Mike Lewis working on an order of oysters

While you can order off the Bistro on Main menu, this space is dedicated to serving up the best in local and regional seafood in their natural form, and inventive, prepared small plates. Vining plans to offer as many as eight different oysters, with Pleasant Bay (Harwich), Big Rock Dennis and Wellfleet’s always on the menu alongside Chatham Oysters. Stage Harbor littlenecks, jumbo prawns, chilled lobster, scallop carpaccio, local fish ceviche and tuna tartare round out the raw bar menu. There’s also house-smoked salmon and mussels and a seasonal smoked fish pâté, as well as salads and chowder. Executive chef Tim O’Brien serves up flavorful lobster bisque made the proper way from a rich shellfish fumet. Other tasty bites from the main kitchen include crispy shrimp tumbleweeds (coated with shredded phyllo and deep fried), sweet corn and clam fritters, coconut panko-crusted calamari, and royal Thai crab cakes.

Chef O’Brien sources as much local fish for the raw bar and kitchen as possible. He also purchases seasonal produce from Not Enough Acres Farm in Dennis and Hemeon Farm in Harwich and stops at the Chatham Farmers’ Market each Tuesday to see what’s on offer. Libations include eight craft beers on tap and white and red wines by the glass. There’s also a nice selection of half bottles of wine, which you don’t see enough of on restaurant menus. Specialty martinis and cocktails are made using as many local, fresh and organic ingredients as possible, starting with Cape Cod Vodka, made with local potatoes, and Cape Cod Great White Rum. Back in 1991 when Vining opened his original bistro, his concept was to create a neighborhood place where locals and visitors alike could come together and celebrate all the great food, drink and camaraderie Chatham has to offer. We’d say he has more than succeeded. Happy silver anniversary!

Chatham Raw Bar at Bistro on Main
593 Main Street, Chatham
508-945-5033 /

Open for lunch Wednesday-Sunday 11:30 am-3 pm, dinner seven nights starting at 5:30 pm.

Article from Edible Cape Cod at
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