So, where did we eat this weekend on the Cape?
It feels so unnatural to me to say Cape Cod. It’s so formal, like something that someone who hadn’t ever been there would say. But I’ve been there many times. As a child, my family would make a yearly pilgrimage to the Cape for our massive annual family reunion. There would be volleyball and lobster. My grandmother would convene with her cousins, the ones that she’d spent summers playing on beaches and swimming with. Meanwhile, I would search the crowds (yes, crowds) for my generation of cousins … the ones who, although older, would build sandcastles on the beach with me.
I have a great family.
This past weekend was the first time that my children visited the Cape. While I doubt they will ever connect the concept of visiting the Cape with huge family gatherings like I do, I certainly hope that they do associate it would good times and good friends. I have great friends too.
Alright, enough musings … onto the food.
The Sunnyside, Hyannis – It was pouring when we arrived in Hyannis on Saturday, intent on grabbing lunch and possibly heading out for the harbor cruise. Given the weather, eating at the clam shack by the docks was off (heck, so was the boat ride), so we headed back to Main Street and parked. When my friends spotted the words “A Family Restaurant” on The Sunnyside’s sign, we agreed it seemed perfect for our party of three adults and two little kids and dashed inside.
The food here is tasty and inexpensive — a very good combination. The children’s menu is basic and predictable, but that’s okay sometimes. Will had some sizable chicken fingers and Paige was happy to order a hot dog — her favorite. They both devoured their fries. Meanwhile, I polished off a flavorful and thick Monte Cristo sandwich with sweet potato fries. I definitely recommend asking to substitute sweet potato fries for the regular fries … very tasty.
The Lobster Claw, Orleans – When I was a child, my grandmother and I would eat out at Howard Johnson’s every so often. While there, she would inevitably order the fried clam strips. Somehow, I fell in love with them too, in all their rubbery goodness. I’m older and wiser now though, and can really recognize a good fried clam when I see taste it.
When I tasted the fried clams at The Lobster Claw, I knew for certain that these were fabulously good fried clams. They were tender and had that hint of salty sweetness that only comes with a good, fresh clam. The pile was huge, and yes, I devoured the whole thing. The kids chose off the children’s menu – fried shrimp and fish and chips. The big fried shrimp were meaty and delish, but Will wasn’t fond of the fact that they still had the shells on (and he wasn’t entirely sure where the shell started and the shrimp meat ended). I thought they were awesome though … not that I tried any of his or anything.
Cooke’s Seafood, Orleans – It seems like every restaurant on the Cape wants to proclaim that they have the best fried clams or lobster or whatever. I can’t really say whether Cooke’s claim of the best fried clams is valid or not, since they were out of them. But I can tell you that their fish and chips was made with beautiful fish. Will ate it all up, with not too much prodding.
As for their crab cakes, they were divine. I adore crab cakes. They are among my very favorite seafood dishes … and these ones? They are meaty. Some crab cakes have lots of fillers that give them a rich, bready flavor, but lack in the actual crab department. These, however, are thick and rich with lots of delicious, fresh crab meat. Total love.
What I wasn’t in love with though were the onion rings. I am a big onion ring fan, but my platter came with two that looked perfect from the outside but were too undercooked inside. I am just not a fan of crunching into onions when they are in fried ring form.
Also, just a note that their website is woefully out of date … it doesn’t even list this location, but I assure you it does exist.
Cottage Street Bakery, Orleans – If you go to Cooke’s in Orleans, then you need to pop over to Cottage Street Bakery, which is across the parking lot and just across the street. It’s a cute, small shop with a few tables inside and several picnic benches outside. The display cases are filled with all sorts of sweet confections.
I bought a peanut butter brownie (thick layer of brownie, thin layer of peanut butter buttercream, thin layer of chocolate ganache and peanut butter cups on top), a mint brownie (thick layer of brownie, thin layer of mint buttercream, thin layer of chocolate ganache), a coconut brownie (thick layer of brownie, thin layer of coconut buttercream, thin layer of chocolate ganache), a carrot cake cupcake with a thick swirl of creamy frosting and a peanut butter cookie. No, I didn’t eat it all myself. I shared.
Will and I split the coconut brownie in the car while Paige slept. But it was so good, we didn’t stop there … we split the mint one too. And the mint brownie? Absolutely to die for. It was the perfect combination of mintiness and chocolate, creamy and cakey all at once … oh, it’s so good. If it wasn’t so far away, I would drive up for another. They are just that good.
Do you have a favorite spot to eat on the Cape? Share in the comments below!
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.