You won’t find a menu on the Nobnocket Boutique Inn website.
But if you’re a breakfast person, their waffles, baked eggs, and frittatas are worth the ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard.
For the fourth year, The Nobnocket Boutique Inn in Vineyard Haven just won the “Best Breakfast — US/Americas” from luxury travel guide Condé Nast Johansens. It’s one of the few spots in the country that made their Excellence 2023 list — and the only spot in New England.
Nobnocket has earned its share of buzz since opening in 2016. Last year, the inn was a Conde Nast Readers Choice pick for “Best Hotel in the Northeast.” Yankee named it a Best Boutique Hotel in New England 2022 and a Yankee Magazine Editors’ Choice for Best of New England 2019. There’s been other fanfare, too.
The plot twist? The award-winning breakfasts are created by a totally self-taught cook.
Annabelle Hunton, a London native who co-owns the inn with her husband, Simon, laughed when I asked about her culinary background.
“None. I need to make that clear to anybody who thinks I might,” she says with a chuckle. “I just learned a lot from my dad — he trained as a chef, but never was one — and my joy for cooking comes from him.”
In fact, all of the Huntons’ hospitality skills are self-taught from their years as travelers and eaters, Annabelle says. “Simon worked in the pharma industry for 20 years. We met in Milan, where I was working as a translator,” she said. The couple opened their first inn, on Cape Cod, in 2011. They sold that inn and opened Nobnocket in 2016.
I asked Hunton about her breakfasts, recipes, and how an English couple came to create one of the buzziest inns in New England.
I’m intrigued by these breakfasts because, while I see photos on your Instagram, there are no menus on your website.
So it’s different every day, and I don’t have any rhyme or reason. We always have a fruit/yogurt/ granola. Then it’s either a sweet or savory main course. I try and do something a little bit different, rather than things you’d normally find going out for breakfast. It’s interesting — I think if we were to tell people what they were getting, nobody would choose what we serve, but when [they get it] they’re like, “Oh, wow, this is great — I wouldn’t have thought to order that.” I think that’s where [the buzz] comes from.
What are examples of sweet and savory courses?
For sweet, I might do homemade waffles with peach and mango with blueberry coulis, and a side of sorbet. So it’s like a dessert breakfast. If I’m doing eggs, I might do poached eggs on a bread, but then hide underneath it some pesto and crispy prosciutto. I do a lot of prosciutto in the oven; it comes out crispy and salty. We make our own pesto. We use as much local ingredients as possible. The joy is we don’t have a menu, so if the avocados look good that day, I have flexibility.
What did you make today?
The main dish was breakfast burritos — scrambled eggs, onions, beans, roasted red peppers, cheese, and sausage wrapped in a tortilla, then baked in the oven for 20 minutes. Then for the fruit, I had blueberries, strawberries, and banana parfait done kind of layered with vanilla yogurt and homemade granola.
What dishes might you make in the summer when the Vineyard gets busy?
I love to do baked eggs — that’s grated cheese on the bottom, then whisk the eggs and milk, bake for about an hour. It’s almost like a soufflé. Then I’ll do chopped asparagus so you’ve kind of got a splash of green. I might do eggs with spicy sausage on the side. I defrost the sausage with chili flakes, fry them off in orange juice. They get this sticky-sweet outside with a spicy inside. I’ve got a baked-orange croissant. I soak croissants in a vanilla-egg mixture with orange overnight. Those puff up beautifully. I’ll do that with marmalade-sugar syrup to pour over. They’re slightly decadent, but they’re not huge portions.
It’s a bit of a different experience. I’m not a chef. So I’m not going to try and go up against the poached eggs Hollandaise that somebody orders from professionals — mine’s never gonna be like that.
Your site says “signature egg dishes” — what are a few of those?
Baked avocado eggs with chips and salsa. You scoop out the avocado [pit], put the egg in and cook it. We might sprinkle cheese on top. We’ve got frittatas — spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta. If I’m doing scrambled eggs, I might stir in a little feta to give it a bit more flavor. I might chop up rosemary, roasted potatoes [as a side]. There was a TikTok craze of grated eggs this summer, which I’d never even thought of, and was a treat. I like to do flattened roasted potatoes instead of toast on the bottom.
What are some fan favorites?
The waffles. One of the most requested recipes — other than our granola — is baked blueberry French toast. Poached eggs with pesto underneath — people go gaga for that.
What’s your personal favorite to eat?
I’m not a breakfast person.
What do you like to eat?
I’m a dinner girl. I love pizza, Indian food, Thai, Greek, Italian. We’ll do trips to New York just to eat. Boston is, oh my God, fantastic for food. I could just spend an afternoon eating cold cuts in Eataly. We got stuck off-island last year, one of the ferries canceled, and we just looked at each other like “Eataly.”