Is Ælder a high-end restaurant? The footwear of the two women dining at the next table (dark Birkenstocks and gaily patterned socks on one; floral Birks and plain socks on the other) says one thing. Chef Jay Blackinton’s sensational 10- to 14-course menus, the impressive natural wine list, and the policy that you pay for your meal in full when you make a reservation indicate something else entirely.
Either way, the former bakeshop at the foot of Eastsound’s main drag is actually two establishments in one. Blackinton and partner Jocelyn Cecil run a tasting menu–only restaurant in here, and Hogstone, their original chill alfresco pizza hang, in the rambling yard out back.
Ælder’s menu evolves with each microseason and shift in weather; even a simple starter like oysters—harvested 344 yards away and adorned with fermented celery—yields a progression of flavors that soar on the palate, then go deep. Meanwhile, Hogstone uses Neapolitan-style pies as a jumping-off point for deeply local combos like unruly fava shoots, green garlic, and a scattering of Blackinton’s own pork, but simpler pies are equal standouts. Whether you go tweezer food or pizza (and plain Birks or patterned), dinner at either of these nested restaurants is entirely worth a ferry reservation.