Traveling is among my chief passions. New places, new experiences, new memories … it all comes with a good trip. This past weekend, my kids, husband and I headed to Cape Cod for a fabulous weekend of eating, enjoying and attending a close friend’s wedding. And yes, it was a good trip.
Of course, we’ve been to the Cape before (many times for me), but this time was different. The weekend was all about seeing a dear, dear friend wed a wonderful, loving man. The ceremony was beautiful — the kind that leaves you with tears glistening in your eyes. But the moment from the wedding that will be with me forever is when the vows were done and they were officially married. The look of pure joy, pure happiness, on my friend’s face was breathtaking.
Other than the wedding, we had a pretty laid-back, unplanned trip. The agenda was loose. The plans formed as we went and we changed directions in a heartbeat. Relaxing …
We visited Nauset Beach, a lovely public beach in Orleans. The surf was wild that day, with tall, crashing waves hit hard with strong winds, sending a cloud of spray back as the waves rushed forward. It was mesmerizing. As for the kids, they laughed and giggled while they ran (and fell!) in the sand.
Of course, the long drive? Not so relaxing … The long weekend started with the kids and I dashing from school pick up to the train station to pick up a friend to the Cape. Unfortunately, by the time we made the more than four-hour drive northeast, the seafood restaurant we planned to eat at had closed for the evening. We ended up eating at Papa Gino’s on what seemed like the best veggie pizza and grinder ever. Honestly, we can’t say if it was hunger or truly good food influencing our opinions … Whatever it was, it was just right for the end of that day.
Where else did we dine?
Eating on the Cape: 2010
- Cooke’s Seafood, Orleans – After not making it to Cooke’s on our first evening, we decided to grab an early lunch there the next day. I loved that it was within walking distance to our hotel, and we took full advantage of that, walking over there. This time, I had Fried Clams, as did my friend — something we were unable to try last time. They were good — flavorful breading on tender, perfect clams — but they could have benefited from a bit more salt. Still, I would definitely eat them again. The kids had Fish and Chips, which seemed to be a little bit lightly battered. The color of the breading was also on the yellow side — not the most appealing. And the cost of this lunch (one adult meal, two kids meals, three drinks) was a bit much — over $35. Overall, we still like Cooke’s, but the high cost knocks it down a bit.
- Capt’n Elmers, Orleans – Remember how I said that we changed plans on a whim? That happened the night we went to Capt’n Elmers. Somehow, we drove right past the restaurant we intended to eat at and ended up here … our second choice. Well, let me tell you — it was fate. I had a special called Lazy Lobster, a fabulous casserole of big lobster chunks in a creamy, delicious sauce topped with buttery breadcrumbs. It was amazing — Ah-Freakin-Mazing. My friend said that was the slowest she’s ever seen me eat — and that’s saying a lot. I savored every last bite. As for her, she had a Lobster Roll. That was a little unusual — chunks of lobster in a roll with … globs of mayo. Definitely not the best she’s had. Skip that, and try the Fish and Chips instead. We took some back for my husband (who arrived that night). He ate every last bit of the breaded fish strips and potato wedges. As for the kids, they ordered off the kids menu, which was typical at best. I was disappointed in their kids’ portions and the lack of vegetables … they would have loved a bit of steamed broccoli or something with their meal. But for that Lazy Lobster, I would go there anytime.
- Cottage Street Bakery, Orleans- Last year, this was a favorite stop during our trip. This year, it was just ok. We picked up brownies while there, but were disappointed in the buttercream on it, which was grainy. They were better when chilled for sure, but not the best … However, for breakfast, the kids, Shawn and I had some delightful breakfast sandwiches — egg, cheddar and ham on multigrain bread. The coffee was also pretty good (and I am super picky about that). But I will say that the breakfast sandwiches were pricey. My favorite thing from the bakery this weekend? The chocolate mousse cake we had at the wedding — delish!
- Sir Crickets, Orleans – This little seafood restaurant doesn’t have a website, but what they do have is awesome prices and delicious food. Now, I wasn’t that happy with my Crab Cakes, which were too crunchy on the outside and too soft on the inside. But I can totally forget that after trying my friend’s Fried Oyster Roll — it’s my new favorite clam shack food. Those little crispy, tender, juicy bits of oysters were amazing. And Shawn’s cup of New England Clam Chowder was superb too — creamy, packed with clams and potatoes and with excellent flavor. Shawn also loved his giant Fish and Chips, which he declared the best of the weekend. The kids had chicken fingers … and they totally devoured them. The only downside? The coleslaw was just so-so.
- Hearth n Kettle, Orleans – After another breakfast restaurant had a 30+ minute wait, we headed over to the Hearth N Kettle, a restaurant that I went to with my family as a child. It was everything I remembered — cozy with lots of wood and delicious food. My friend and I had the Nor’easter breakfast: a cheddar and bacon scone topped with Canadian bacon, a poached egg and cheese sauce. Delicious, decadent and absolutely wonderful. I need to figure out how to make savory scones like these tender, perfect ones. The whole dish is totally worth duplicating. Oh, and the kids and Shawn devoured their meals too (pancakes, eggs, etc). This is really as good as I remember it being.
- Ten Clams, Mystic, CT – It didn’t occur to us at the time, but this restaurant is all about inexpensive food — and it’s all under $10 (hence the name). We stopped here on the way home and had super buttery Hot Lobster Rolls, which were filled with tender lobster meat. The fries were good too.
Mmm. Good eating.
Do you have a favorite place to dine on the Cape? Share it in the comments!
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.