Most restaurants in Massachusetts are still dealing with the governor’s pandemic protocols, so it’s tough to do a regular restaurant review.

However, other than the fact that we had to wear masks to get to our seats on the Fifty-Six Union’s beautiful back patio, everything about Saturday night’s dinner was wonderful, so I decided to give them a review despite the current circumstances.

We’re in Nantucket for Father’s Day weekend and restaurant seating is tight. Last week I made reservations everywhere and since I am biased in favor of online reservations, I started on, which is where I discovered Fifty-Six Union.

Just out of town…

It’s not far out of town, but it definitely has a Nantucket countryside vibe (as opposed to the downtown seaside eateries.)

According to google maps, it’s actually 6/10ths of a mile from the Nantucket Boat Basin, which is the upper limit for Mrs. Horne to walk to dinner.

We were dining with Joan and Doc Ruel. Doc managed to rent the last Jeep on Nantucket so he drove us over.

It’s been a funny 5 days dining on Nantucket. We’ve discovered many great restaurants like Fifty-Six Union solely because they have permanent outdoor dining while others like The Club Car and Nautilus, with no outdoor seating, are shut down.

We went through “the front room” on the way to our table and immediately knew we were in for a cool and eclectic culinary experience…

The Masked Mannequin
The “Land Shark” bartender…

The dining area at Fifty-Six Union is both well covered and airy at the same time…

I imagine on a balmy summer evening this would easily be the preferred dining area.

If you didn’t know Fifty-Six Union has been here for over 20 years, you’d think it was some chic new restaurant just from the brilliant styling…

Makers and Mrs. Horne’s Signature Drink

The Food

Fifty-Six Union has a great menu. It’s just long enough for every palate to find something they like, but not so long that you wonder if anything’s really special.

We did find a lot of special dishes, but before they arrived we were treated to some delightful homemade warm rolls.

As I’ve mentioned before, when I see a warm homemade bread service I often skip the appetizer and enjoy this buttery treat. Of course, like most smart restauranteurs, they kept the bread hidden until we ordered!

Mrs. Horne and I decided to split an entree and each order our own appetizers – plus my warm buttered rolls.

I started with the Clams Casino…

Clams Casino

Clams and Bacon are one of those synergistic flavor combinations that taste far greater than the sum of the parts.

Mrs. Horne and The Ruel’s started with the Southwest Caesar…

Southwest Caesar

The southwest angle came from cornbread croutons and roasted poblano peppers.

The Ruel’s shared the Ahi Tuna for their entree…

Seared Ahi Tuna

Doc Ruel is a home chef and Ahi is one of his favorite dishes. He was particularly impressed by the assorted aioli’s dotted on the dish.

Although we debated the steak, in the end we opted for the exotic sounding Javanese Fried Rice…

Javanese Fried Rice

It’s an incredible dish filled with Asian Chicken and Jumbo Shrimp. We were warned that it was spicy and it certainly was.

Great Family Service

Our excellent service was provided by Blair and Elizabeth…

Blair and Elizabeth

Both have mastered the “smiling eyes” that I have come to appreciate here in “Maskachusetts.”

It turns out that Elizabeth is from one of our old neighborhoods – Chelmsford Massachusetts and Blair’s parents own and operate Fifty-Six Union. In fact his brother is a chef as well.

Before we left, Blair’s mother Wendy stopped by and shared more of the story behind this great little family restaurant…

Owner Wendy Jannelle

I’ll be back here for dinner again and if you haven’t tried it, please do, particularly if you’re in town for a couple of days and want a break from the downtown seaside eateries.