Having lived in Boston for over 20 years, we have made many trip to Cape Cod Massachusetts. Now that we live in San Francisco, we seek out those New England dishes that we love but either can’t get or are very expensive. So excuse us if our Cape Cod restaurants tend to skew toward lobster, littleneck clams, fried belly clams, and onions rings. Although lobster and littleneck clams are both relatively quilt free (other than for the butter and mayo (on lobster rolls) that accompany them, the same cannot be said for the fried items—which we make even worse by adding tarter sauce and salt. We, however, do manage to rationalize away our guilt (albeit not the calories, fat and sodium) by promising ourselves that we will eat more healthily when we return home. Here are some of our recent 2023 meals. As always, menus and chefs often change. What we experienced may not be the same as yours.
Belfry Inn and Bistro (Sandwich)
The imaginatively redesigned church located in the Cape Cod canal-side town of Sandwich was the site of one of our only two restaurant dinners on the Cape on our 2023 trip. Although the service had a few gaps, we were impressed by the venue and by the food with three of us sharing four very nice dishes:
- Crab and avocado sphere with lemon aioli, arugula oil and parmesan crackers;
- Seared New Bedford scallops with butter-poached lobster risotto and Pernod-lobster fumet;
- Spiced Hudson Valley duck breast with cranberry/blackberry gastrique and asparagus; and
- New Zealand lamb Wellington with spinach, goat cheese, red wine jus and potato gratin.
Our dessert was equally good.
- Almond-caramel crunch tart with tiramisu gelato and fresh berries; and
- Flourless chocolate cake with white chocolate sauce and espresso gelato.
Due to an unfortunate miscommunication and questionable service, we ended up with a very pedestrian 2021 Siduri Santa Barbara Pinot Noir with which excited none of us. Even so, the food (despite changes in several ingredients that were not communicated) more than made up for our disappointment with the service and the wine.
The Red Inn (Provincetown)
The place was packed for our dinner and it was so loud that we gave up trying to talk to each other. We came primarily for the food. Our meal consisted of three very tasty dishes: Wellfleet littleneck clams steamed in white wine, tomato, and garlic-butter broth; lobster and artichoke fondue in a sourdough bread bowl; and fried, bacon-wrapped oyster brochette with remoulade.
We ate our other Cape dinners at our friend’s house: overstuffed Lobster Rolls for one and seafood paella, loaded with lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels and chorizo the other.
Flying Bridge (Falmouth Harbor)
We had our normal New England tourist lunch of lobster roll and fried belly clams, both of which, not to speak of the view and the service, were very good.
Pelham House Dining Room (Dennis Port)
We shared a casual, two-hour lunch with a friend in this beautiful location overlooking the beach and ocean. Our meals, both good, consisted of a cup of clam chowder, a plate of cape scallops, and a medium rare burger with cabot cheddar and caramelized onion and bacon jam.
Chatham Pier Fish Market Restaurant (Chatham)
At this popular take-out spot, you order at the window and then take your food to one of the picnic tables in the area. We continued to get our fill of fried belly clams along with garlic butter-steamed littleneck clams, and a side of onion rings. Great atmosphere for lunch but the food was not particularly compelling.
Bubala’s by the Bay (Provincetown)
Our lunch at this casual restaurant was steamed Wellfleet littleneck clams and grilled cod sandwich (which was mostly bun with a small piece of cod) with lettuce, tomato, red onion and tartar sauce along with a Manciat Poncet Macon Chardonnay for Joyce and Beer Tree Any Day’s Hazy IPA for Tom.
JD’s Woodfire Grill (Provincetown)
Another casual lunch location where we hit a happy hour. We enjoyed a platter of raw Wellfleet oysters and some steamed shrimp with a bottle of minerally 2021 Mer de Solei Silver Unoaked Chardonnay.
Torino Restaurant and Bar (Hyannis)
The packed outdoor space offered some of the classic Cape dishes we were looking for, but where we were terribly disappointed. Our server’s desire to please more than compensated for her inexperience. While the steamed littlenecks were good, they were outrageously overpriced. The fried clams too were overpriced for the portion. Our real problem, however, was that they were inexcusably overcooked and with the length of time we had to wait for them, we did not have time to return them.
Wequasset Resort (Chatham)
At this casual harbor and poolside restaurant, we had a lunch with lobster bisque, lobster roll and swordfish taco (and our friends had a scallop roll and fried cod taco)—all very good.
Beacon Room (Orleans)
The menu offered what appeared to be a nice selection of dishes for lunch but we were disappointed by the results. Although Joyce found the lobster salad croissant adequate, Tom found the croissant gummy and the lobster dry. The fish on the fried Atlantic cod and chips was dry, tough, and tasteless. Our friend was saved from this disappointment (not to speak of the calories, cholesterol and fat) by wisely sticking to a salad.
Mac’s Shack (Wellfleet)
Our dinner began with Wellfleet oysters on the half shell and steamed littleneck clams. We then proceeded to fried belly clams and butter-poached lobster. Our friends had pasta with littleneck clams and red sauce and pan-seared scallops. Although all were good, none were especially memorable. We accompanied our meal with a small bottle of sake and a bottle of oaky, William Hill Chardonnay.
When in Provincetown, we always like to check out the evening’s entertainment. In 2023 we went to a show with Paige Turner, a drag queen. S/he sings and gags her way through an hour of non-stop satiric and acerbic (often sexual) jokes and lyrics sung to popular 1970s/80s tunes. While it was fun, we preferred our previous P-town show by the even more clever and acerbic Kinsey Sicks.