There are some places on Island that make you feel as if you’re on vacation, even if you live here year-round, and Right Fork Diner is one of those spots. As soon as you walk in, the energy and vibe of the diner relaxes you as you spot the biplanes taking off from the Katama airfield and landing a couple of hundred feet away. The red, white, and blue color scheme of the space uplifts your spirit, as you’re welcomed with smiles by Robert and Molly, two veteran servers of the establishment.
Chef Kate Erwin is in the kitchen for the second year in a row, where she’s cooking up family favorites. She was born and raised in Baltimore, and after earning her degree from the New England Culinary Institute, she went on to study viticulture and oenology at Apicius, the Culinary Institute of Florence, so her background is well beyond breakfast. As one of the few female chefs on-Island, she holds her own in the kitchen, commanding a small but precise team to deliver consistently delicious food throughout the season.
Whether you’re there for breakfast (7 am to 2 pm), lunch (starting at 11 am with extended hours in July and August), or dinner (coming soon), you’re in for a treat. Unlike the greasy diner food you might be used to, the Right Fork Diner does it right by putting care and thought into every dish, whether it’s something as simple as a stack of pancakes ($10) or as complex as their Spicy Black Bean Hash ($14). But the one breakfast dish that won me over is the Fried Chicken Benedict ($16). You can choose to serve them on a toasted English muffin or cheddar polenta cakes, but why would you ever go with the English muffin? The polenta cakes are light and fluffy, with sweet corn and sharp cheddar flavors that work so well with the crispy fried chicken breast, poached eggs (or eggs your choice), bacon — all drenched in a hollandaise sauce that will make you want to order an extra side of it (because you’re on vacation and no one’s counting hollandaise calories).
For those that are sandwich lovers and crave them even in the morning, the Breakfast Club Sandwich ($14) is the way to go. Tucked between toasted multigrain bread (or you can get a gluten-free wrap for an extra $2) are two crispy fried eggs, thin cornmeal ham, fresh greens, juicy tomatoes, and red onions, all slathered with an herb mayo. You might be wondering, as I was, what is cornmeal ham? Chef Erwin explained that it’s a ham that’s been rolled in cornmeal and when sliced and fried, results in some of the most flavorful, most crispy ham you’ve ever tasted.
If you’re stopping into the diner for lunch, they have all sorts of soups, sandwiches, burgers, and more. I recommend the Cobb Salad with Chicken ($14 plus $8 for the chicken). I’m not one for salads, but while I toured the kitchen, I spotted a receipt with a note from a past customer that read: “best Cobb salad on the Island!” and I had to try it. And it was — it’s packed with the traditional fixings of a Cobb salad: tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, hard boiled egg, bacon, avocado, blue cheese, but it’s tossed in a housemade maple dijon vinaigrette that just blows it out of the park. Typically we see Cobb salads tossed with classic blue cheese dressing, making it all about the cheese, but this maple dijon dressing plays off the balance of sweet and savory, making each bite a delight.
Everything we tasted at the Right Fork Dinner was divine, but it’s even more about the atmosphere. You’re seated at the Katama airfield watching the planes as you sip fresh coffee and wait for your meal. The chattering voices of friends and family give it its energy, and being able to peek into the open kitchen to hear the sounds of a great brigade in action brings it all together. End the visit with one of their frappes ($8) and take in the beauty of the Island.
The Right Fork Diner is located on 12 Mattakesett Way in Katama. Follow them on Facebook for updates: facebook.com/rightforkdiner.
This article by Marnely Murray originally appeared in the MV Times.