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“Can't wait to go back!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Red Cat Kitchen at Ken N' Beck

The Red Cat Kitchen at Ken N' Beck
14 Kennebec Ave, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, MA 02557
+1 508-696-6040
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Ranked #3 of 48 Restaurants in Oak Bluffs
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Price range: $20 - $40
Cuisines: American, Bar, Seafood, Contemporary
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Hubbardston, Massachusetts
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Can't wait to go back!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2012

Disclaimer: My wife is Ben's cousin. We've been going to his restaurants for years, so, we ARE a little biased. :) That said, the latest venture was incredibly delicious! I had the NY cut steak. You could have cut it with a butter knife. Laura had the fresh swordfish and that was like no other. It melted in your mouth.

We both raved over the yellowfin tartare and the calamari, well, I could have made a meal out of just that. The sauce/aoli it came with I couldn't stop eating.

You want an eclectic place fit for a foodie or president? Go here.

We can't wait to go back.. Oh, right, we'll be there tomorrow night for the festivities! Very much looking forward to it! :)

  • Visited August 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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281 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
18 reviews 18 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Inventive Food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 20, 2012

All of our selections had a different and unexpected twist for the taste buds. The Red Cat is small and noisy but the food is superb. Lobster Salad appetizer cam piled high on top of a fried green tomato, the lemony sauce was such a treat. Service was attentive and knowledgeable.

Visited September 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“The best food on Martha's Vineyard - hands down !”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2012

As someone who has lived on the Vineyard year round,and travels every winter world wide to eat in great restaurants I can only RAVE about Chef Ben deForest's new venture. It seems like he has finally found the perfect spot for his amazing talents. He has this great tapas-like menu called "Chef's Inspiration"- you tell your adorable server ( Maggie is a standout !) whether you want 2, 3 or 4 little plates and the incredible food just starts rolling out ( the whole table needs to order this way though). Ben is able to coax the true, bright flavors out of food without using lots of butter or cream so you never leave feeling stuffed. Each plate is a little gem of creativity( tuna tartare w/ nectarines and wasabi oil, and the BEST vanilla creme brulee I have ever had) , I had his Parmesan Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms & Truffle Oil one night and thought I'd died and gone to heaven. And don't miss the fresh Cucumber-Lime Gimlets- outrageous ! It's become our favorite place to eat, we go at least once or twice a week,and everyone we have told to go there has absolutely loved it. Fun vibe, great small bar and truly extraordinary food, Sarah and Ben have hatched a real winner !
P.S. I have owned several restaurants on the Vineyard over the years and am shocked by JPM62's review. High priced ? Disappointing ? I think not ! Don't miss this one.

  • Visited September 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Would go back.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2012 via mobile

Soup was amazing. I am pregnent and I know I will be craving it once u go back home. Cut little place. Reservations recommended. We had them and we still needed to wait a few minutes. But it was worth it. Waitress didn't check back with us for drinks. But the food was Awsome and we eventually got refills so it didn't bother us.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
2 reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“This Place Might Be Great For You -- Not For Me”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2012

We came here with a group in Summer 2011 and we loved the southern-tinged menu, the friendly service and the happy vibe. Plus it seemed like they were happy for our business. So we made a reservation when we were on the island again this year.

It was completely different. The place still looks great but, first off, the atmosphere is way more trendy, not a laid-back little place anymore. Our table was too small for 7 people, too. The menu was more limited than we remembered, and the prices were higher. That's still o.k. but the menu reeks of pretentiousness. The descriptions of the dishes seem to go out of their way to let you know that you will like it, you will pay a lot for it and you will not get much food. Again, that's still o.k., albeit to a lesser degree, so long as the food is good.

The only thing on the menu that my teenage son wanted, even though he is a relatively adventurous eater, was the "White Trash Burger." In the context, something about that irritated me. I don't like seeing a "White Trash Burger" on a menu where there is a dish proudly titled "The $50 Steak." I'd hate to see what the chef would name the collard greens or a plate of nachos.

My companions were split on whether to stay or go, based on the stark difference between this and the place we remembered from last year. I voted for staying. I figured the food has to be good, with an attitude like this. The "Yellowfin Tuna Imagined" sounded good. So after a moment, our waitress came over and cheerfully asked if we had any questions. I asked: "What's this Tuna `Imagined'"? Oh, she said, that's where the chef puts whatever sides he wants on the plate. I cheerfully replied: "What?! Well, could I make a request?" She cheerfully replied "No."

I calmly stated to my companions: "I hate this place! I hate this place! Let's go!" We made our excuses, left a decent tip on the table (we hadn't ordered anything) and went to the Chowder Company where we had a pretty good meal in a relaxed atmosphere.

If the above description and the other reviews appeal to you, then simply add 4 more stars and knock yourself out. For me, this is the opposite of what I want when I go out to eat with family and friends on an island vacation. I can get a talented chef to condescend to me at home -- I am here to eat oysters and lobster rolls in my shorts. I will pay you pretty much whatever you want to charge, just please, no hipper-than-thou attitude on my vacation.

I wouldn't have bothered to even write a review except we liked the place so much last year we told people about and made plans to come back. What happened?

Our waitress was extremely pleasant and diplomatic about our ill fit and abrupt departure. That alone might make it worth another try sometime. Maybe I am just too much of a dope to appreciate this place but for me this is a solid 1 star.

  • Visited September 2012
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sarah O, Owner at The Red Cat Kitchen at Ken N' Beck, responded to this review, September 6, 2012
You didn't even stay for dinner? That's too bad. I think we could have brought you around to how we see things...
First a little back-story, the Red Cat Kitchen is operated by myself and my soon-to-be-husband Ben (the chef). We are operating out of Ken n' Beck restaurant, so though technically the same, we're a little different. We enjoyed eating at Ken n' Beck very much last summer- the food was amazing, (we even went there the night we got engaged!) unfortunately, due to whatever the circumstances were, the management didn't return, so Ben and I took over.
Ben is definitely a big personality, where as I am not. We make a great team and serve to temper and balance each other well. Rather than being "trendy," Ben is more of an ahead-of-the-curve trend-setter, and anyone who knows me will tell you I am neither trendy, nor pretensions (I can't muster the energy for either). Our "trendy restaurant" is a conglomeration of things left over from the last occupants, some things donated or gifted from friends and family (my grandmother's kitchen chairs), and things we had at home- seriously, we don't have any dishes or cookware left at home! I've read Tripadvisor reviews that describe it as "Garage Sale Decor" and if we ever had enough time to go to garage sales on weekends I would probably be able to say that's accurate!
I don't know how the atmosphere of a place can be "trendy," but perhaps it's that we have been SO overwhelmingly busy in our first season, that the current "trend" seems to be to eat here? Yes, we are a tiny little place with only 12 tables, and we do our best to accommodate as many people as we can, so sometimes we will ask 5 people if they mind sitting at a 4 top, and in your case 7 people were sitting around 2 4-tops pushed together, which might be tight for some, cozy for others, and "I'm so glad we got a table!" for others still.

As for our menu, it's very tongue in cheek...
There are occasionally things like "A Few Whole-Belly Frier Clams" which show up from time to time on the "snacks" portion of the menu for $5 (the same portion (6) at the local clam-shack is closer to $15). the Beet salad is on the menu as "So you like Beets..." and we have the "Begrudging Caesar" because as rote as caesar salads are to a creative chef, Ben begrudgingly put one on the menu (with his twist) to appease demanding guests. The "White Trash Burger" is named such so you know what to expect and can have a little laugh at the same time- this isn't a pretensions "gourmet" burger. We use fresh beef ground right down the street by Mr. Pacheco, our neighbor at Reliable Market- known to be one of the best butchers on the island. It's on your standard white bun (the menu says "cheap bun") with American cheese and fries. for $10, it's one of the less expensive burgers on the island, and more than a few people have expressed that it's the best burger they've ever had. I bet your son would have loved it! And really, how many places can you go where they know the name of the man who grinds their meat?
I believe that words carry weight based on their intention, an our intention is to serve really good food with a sense of humor. Though it wasn't my initial thought, your comment made me ask if there was anything you wrote that wasn't completely PC so I counter your attempt to imply that we are somehow racist by using "white trash" on our menu with your use of "waitress" does this mean you are sexist? Now that we're over analyzing anything that could possibly be considered offensive I thought we were all "waitrons" or servers these days... and speaking of being completely without observation, what are you implying by referring to nachos and collard greens? I love them both, maybe we'll be redundant and call them White Trash Nachos or Working Class Collard Greens? Does anyone really care? There is no room for any sort of discrimination or hatred in our restaurant (unless it's Ben being discriminating in the food he puts on the plate), however there is always room for fun and laughter.

Yes, we had a $50 Steak on the menu for a few days- we named it such so people would know what they were getting into up-front before they traced over to the price. Ben put this on the menu after a late night conversation between the two of us when I requested a steak that made people exclaim "wow! now that's an incredible steak!" So he made me happy, with a dry-aged Kansas City Cut Bone-in Rib Eye and it was seriously unlike any steak I've ever had (and I just had nibbles off a friend's plate because we sold out of them before I could claim one as my own!). Now we're back to serving a $33 Barrel Cut NY Strip- still an amazing steak and priced lower than steaks at many other Island restaurants.
There are many items without description beyond "Ben's Imagination of..." as you mentioned, the "Yellowfin Tuna Imagined..." Ben credits ADD as the source for much of his culinary talent, so affording this freedom in the menu keeps him at his best creatively and allows us all to benefit from new flavor combinations we've never considered. Our waitstaff knows to ask a guest if they have any allergies or aversions when ordering one of these "imagination" dishes because both will be taken into account, and requests can always be made. I overheard your question to Phoebe (your server's name) and her response was a light playful "nope" which normally invites a conversation and further questioning, but evidently your experience had already been tainted and your companions decided they had had enough without having any at all.
I'm glad you found what you were looking for at the Chowder Company- they are friends of ours and we are happy to share clientele.
I regret that it has taken me longer to write this response than you spent in our restaurant in the first place, and I wish I had known the real reason your party left (other than the "to find a better place for the kids") because I was standing right there and would have gladly allayed your doubts. I do hope you decide to give us another shot and hopefully see where we're coming from next time.
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