It all started with a late-night visit to the new restaurant Flavors MV in Oak Bluffs last month. I was starving, and not in the mood for a little tapas plate. We walked into Flavors, and right away I noticed that there was plenty of room to dance, which I liked. Then I settled in at a table to order up one of my favorites — fish and chips ($14.99), even though it was way past the time I should’ve eaten it. The bar looked pretty awesome, though, and a seat there would’ve been equally nice.
My plate arrived, and I was happy to find the fish on top of a mound of thin-cut fries, just the way I like them. This could very well be the best fried fish I’ve had on the Island, because I like mine to really crunch when I bite into it — think growing up in Missouri eating fried catfish. I was so happy with the service and with my meal, I thought, “I need to come back here and try something else.”
When I returned a couple of weeks later, I was happy to get some of the backstory. The chef, Ralston Francis, who also owns the Edgartown Diner, brings a new Southern/Jamaican-laced menu to Flavors. He went to Denbigh High School and Portmore Community College in Jamaica, later finishing culinary school at Southern New Hampshire University. Now Francis has partnered with longtime manager Sonny Chhibber, after former Island House owner Billy Datta retired, and the two men have revamped the old restaurant into this new open space that has a great vibe.
While Ralston is at Flavors, his wife Mavis and mother-in-law Esther hold down the fort at the diner. I met with Ralston and talked to him about his hectic life, and how it’s been to open a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic — and there’s the fact that he and his wife are expecting a baby any minute.
“Everything is different here from the old Island House, from the hours to the clientele. It’s more vibrant, and people are loving it, loving the new look and the new menu. I try to add different flavors to the food — like the name says. The menu is basically American with a Southern twist and a little Caribbean,” Francis said.
He loves nightlife, music, and meeting new people, Francis said, and so the restaurant life suits him perfectly. “I love it. I love the restaurant business, and I love the nightlife too. I like going out and meeting people. I meet people from all over the world.”
“We have live music three days a week, and DJs four days a week,” Chhibbers added. “We have live music Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from 3 to 7 pm, and a DJ from 9 to closing.” Chhibber said that he wants customers to come in after a day at the beach and kick back and enjoy great food and music.
I asked Francis what he likes best on the menu, and he said without skipping a beat, “The halibut; it’s pan-seared, and I do a carrot purée and summer succotash with corn, lima beans, onions, peppers, and tomatoes in a sauté.” Then I asked what diners ordered most, and he smiled broadly and said, “Jerk chicken.”
Because I met Francis early in the day for a chat, I figured I would give the breakfast menu a try. I ordered Fried Chicken Benedict ($15.99), with fried chicken thighs and poached eggs served on Cheddar chive biscuits with gravy and home fries. Once again, I went all in. It was hearty, good food — the kind that stays with you so that you can skip right through lunchtime to dinner.
I’ve already decided what to get the next time I stop by for breakfast, the BLT Avocado Benedict, with smashed avocado, bacon, tomato, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce with home fries ($16.99). Then again, I may need to try dinner, with Fried Stuffed Snapper ($32.99) or Sweet Chili-Glazed Salmon ($25.99). Maybe I’ll study the menu first, to whittle down my choices.
Walk in or make a reservation, either way you’ll enjoy it. Open 9:30 am to 1 am, seven days. Flavors MV, 11 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs. 508-338-7401; flavorsmvy.com.