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Mid-Cape Summer 2011: One guy's opinions

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For the past 40 years, I’ve spent at least a few days each year on The Cape, in Brewster. For most of the past 15+ years, eating out has occurred infrequently. But get the kids out of the cottage and laissez bon temps roulez! Below are some opinions. Feel free to comment, challenge, or add.

Only time will tell if this summer is a death knell for the Brewster Fish House, or merely a speed bump. We’ve had excellent meals there for more than 20 years. However the two during these past two weeks – one lunch, one dinner - were not good. Bland, uninspired preparation. The end of an era? It'd be a shame.

Ratings are 10-point scale, with 10 as the largely unattainable top rating.

Breakfast:
- Brewster Coffee House (Brewster); uninspired basic breakfast. Rating: 2.
- Grumpy’s (Dennis); well known, decent overall. I think their better items are things like waffles with a pile o’ berries and whipped cream, vs. standard breakfast fare, although the homemade hash deserves a shout-out. Rating: 7.
- Home Port (Orleans); basic breakfast done well. Rating: 7.
- Keltic Kitchen (West Yarmouth); killer menu, great outdoors area, good execution. OK, the home fries are manufactured, but overall a good filling breakfast. Rating: 6.

Lunch:
- Café Alfresco (Brewster); didn’t try the lobster roll (which I’ve always liked), good fried shrimp po’ boy. Rating: 8.
- Sesuit Harbor Café (Dennis); great clam shack, outside seating next to water channel. Rating: 9.

Dinner:
- Beacon Room (Orleans); really like it, although kind of generic, blue-hair ambience. Strong calamari appetizer, duck, linguini with clams. Rating: solid 8.
- Del Mar (Chatham); good vibe, good eats. Good calamari, refreshing cuke and avocado gazpacho, pumpkin raviolis, and tuna entrée. Rating: solid 8.
- Inaho (Dennis); we love our sushi (family fave is Oishii Too in Sudbury), and this place does pretty well. Rating: 7.5.
- JT’s Seafood (Brewster); busy as always, but food not so great. We prefer Sesuit Café by a lot. Rating: 3
- The Ocean House (Dennis Port); great view, excellent food. Who knew? (Given a Zagat’s 27 rating for food, apparently everyone but me.) Lobster with 4 dipping sauces, kung pao shrimp, chopped veggie salad were all winners. Rating: 8.5.

Them's the culinary results from this year's vaca. Do with it what you will.

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Keltic Kitchen
415 Rte 28, West Yarmouth, MA 02673

Oishii Too
365 Boston Post Rd, Sudbury, MA 01776

Ocean House Restaurant
425 Old Wharf Rd, Dennis Port, MA 02639

Sesuit Harbor Cafe
357 Setucket Rd, Dennis, MA 02638

Brewster Fish House
2208 Main, Brewster, MA 02631

Home Port Restaurant
North Rd, Menemsha, MA 02552

Brewster Coffee Shop
2149 Main St, Brewster, MA 02631

Beacon Room
23 West Rd, Orleans, MA 02653

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  1. Can't take any issue with any of your ratings (except I'd definately rate Keltic Kitchen a point or two above Grumpy's). Sad to hear about the Brewster Fish House as it has always been among the best the Mid-Cape has to offer. Point of info, however, is that they lost their head chef this season who opened her own restaurant called Fin, in Dennis Village on 6A. Reports on the food have been positive with some knocks on the ambiance and tightness of the tables especially upstairs.

    JTs was sold two seasons ago and is a shell of its former self.

    The most notable thing about Brewster Coffee Shop is that it's been for sale for over a year. With an asking price of $1.3 million (!!!!!), I'm shocked it hasn't sold! (not)

    Next visit to The Beacon Room, try sitting in the lounge. Not as blue hair as the dining room.

    Been wanting to try Del Mar myself as it's owned by a long standing and very nice family who own the Paddock in Hyannis and Aqua Grille in Sandwich.

    Nice report!

    1 Reply
    1. re: CapeCodGuy

      Thank you, CCG.

      I have no issue with anyone challenging the Keltic Kitch rating. I can believe on another day I'd write a rave.

      Fin was the one place I wanted to check out but didn't. If you like fish, it's a great looking menu. Oh well, next time.

    2. Nice reviews musicman

      Just returned from 10 days in Chatham and we hit some of your spots. Had lunch at the Sesuit Harbor Cafe twice and agree it gets a high rating. Parking is very limited here and also be aware that they don't take credit cards- cash or checks only.

      Del Mar - had some of the same things you ordered; Gazpacho, the rare tuna entree (delicious), and the calamari and loved them all. Also had the lamb chop lollipops. We hit this place 5 or 6 times last summer and were never disappointed. One of our faves in this area. No reservations, but for some reason I think they will take them for a larger party.

      Beacon room - had lunch there last summer and really enjoyed everything. Wanted to go back for dinner this year but the teens vetoed it for the same reason you stated. They felt it was a quiet "older person" restaurant.

      Also had a lunch and a dinner at the Impudent Oyster (Chatham) and this continues to be our favorite restaurant. I'd give it the same high rating as the Del Mar. We always request to sit in the lower bar area in the back- it's cozier than the main dining area. They do take reservations.

      We almost stopped at JT's Seafood but opted to go back to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe again. Based on your rating, I'm glad we did.

      Also stopped at El Guapo's (Brewster) on the way back from the concert on the Dennis green. Good reasonably priced tacos and burritos and cold beers. No waitresses; you order your food then go outside and wait at the picnic table. Pretty nice place.

      We have always wanted to try the Ocean House, but have just never made it over there. Now it is on our "Must Try" list.

      And finally, after many times of frequenting the Land Ho (Orleans location), I now only think of it as an "OK" place. Had lunch there. Food is only okay; atmosphere is okay (unless you are just having some cocktails at the bar) , prices aren't a real bargain. I guess I'd give it a 6 rating.

      -----
      Ocean House Restaurant
      425 Old Wharf Rd, Dennis Port, MA 02639

      Sesuit Harbor Cafe
      357 Setucket Rd, Dennis, MA 02638

      Impudent Oyster
      15 Chatham Bars Ave, Chatham, MA 02633

      Land Ho Restaurant
      RR 6 Box A, Orleans, MA 02653

      1. Thanks for the nice summary.
        I never understood why JTs Seafood in Brewster was always so busy, having tried it several times over many years I was always disappointed. But their soft serve ice cream is pretty good.

        I will give a few of your suggestions a try this week, though the Fish House news is certainly disappointing. Many times I had my best dining on the Cape there, although last year Abba and Nauset Beach Club surpassed the Fish House, reversing their past rankings.

        -----
        Nauset Beach Club Restaurant
        222 Main St, Orleans, MA 02653

        1. Musicman. Since you have knocked my beloved Brewester Fish House, to which I have not been to yet this year, I have a few questions for you.

          1. Do you think that the clam box in Ipswitch is overated?

          2. Do you think Frank Pepe pies are burnt, and are upset at the way they slice the pie?

          3. Is ketchup on a hot dog OK if you are over the age of 13.

          If you have answered YES to any of these questions, I will discredit you immediatly. If you answered NO, I will be crushed, and have to, not only find a new vacation spot, but find a new reason to live. The Brewster Fish House has 4 places among my kitchen foodwall. If It's no longer good, I will have to rearrange my whole kitchen!

          -----
          Brewster Fish House
          2208 Main, Brewster, MA 02631

          12 Replies
          1. re: foodwallguy

            Actually, the sad news is that musicman is not alone in his claim regarding the possible decline of the Brewster Fish House. The happy news is that their very excellent former head chef, Martha Kane, and her aquaculturist husband have opened Fin, on Rte 6A in Dennis Village. Many of the same dishes went wiith her. Reports on the food are solid, but the room lacks the quaint ambiance of the BFH.

            http://fincapecod.com/

            1. re: CapeCodGuy

              If Fin had a few less tables, it could be great..the noise level and close seating is not in my comfort zone...maybe a mid week 8 PM time slot would work off season...want to love it for sure..

              1. re: CapeCodGuy

                CCG

                Went to Brewster Fish House last night 8/14/11. I was both happy and relieved with the experience. Although it wasn't as good or as ingenious as it was before the change in head Chef, it was a solid 8. Tonight we have reservations at Impudent Oyster in Chatham. Tuesdays Reservation is at Abba in Orleans. Wednesday is Fin. Tried to get into 28 Atlantic and it was either 5 or 9:30 for reservations all week. I'm trying to get Ocean House for Thursday night, but they're closed today so I can't book anything. Lunch tomorrow at Sesuit Harbor. Can't wait. Tried to go to Villa Roma Saturday night and there was an hour 40 wait. Some of the people there told me to go down the road to Lascala. Not good at all! Thanks for the top 5 from the other thread. I'm really living by it. PS, Never go to the Cape Cod chip factory on a rainy day unless you are a glutton for punishment.

                -----
                Ocean House Restaurant
                425 Old Wharf Rd, Dennis Port, MA 02639

                Sesuit Harbor Cafe
                357 Setucket Rd, Dennis, MA 02638

                Villa Roma
                278 Main St, Harwich, MA 02645

                Brewster Fish House
                2208 Main, Brewster, MA 02631

                Impudent Oyster
                15 Chatham Bars Ave, Chatham, MA 02633

                1. re: foodwallguy

                  La Scala..icky..sorry for you on that one..Norabella is a hit. My bf just went to Villa Roma and did not like it at all. Jillian loved Abba last week. Cannot wait to hear your take on Fin.

                  -----
                  Villa Roma
                  278 Main St, Harwich, MA 02645

                  1. re: foodwallguy

                    Thanks for that report FWG, glad to hear the the Brewster Fish House is not a total loss. You've got a nice selection planned out for the week. Well done! One word about Villa Roma, Although I like the food a lot, I'm no fan of the dining room. We usually eat at the bar which ofetn cuts the wait, but even then, it's not that good that I'd EVER wait an hour or more for it. And +1 on Phelana's opinion on La Scala.....too bad on that one.

                    1. re: foodwallguy

                      Have you considered/tried Pisces in Chatham?
                      I've only been there once (last season) and it may go down as my best meal on CapeCod to date.

                      1. re: foleyd7

                        Great rec foleyd....I've always heard great things. That's the problem with living in the mid-Cape, Chatham's a haul for dinner, so unless it's a real special occasion, I just don't go there. I'll put them on my to-do list though. Hope FWG does likewise.

                        1. re: CapeCodGuy

                          I stopped going to Pisces 2004. I was a regular diner there and found it so noisy. My then visiting boy friend came to town. I called and asked for the quietest most romantic table. They gave us a two top by the kitchen. No more Pisces for me.

                          1. re: CapeCodGuy

                            Just tried a reservation for Thursday night. 5 or 9:30. Forgot to mention, we went to JT's in Brewster on Saturday for lunch. Terrible! Impudent Oyster was fantastic. The bouillabaisse was terrific. I'm considering it for my food wall.

                            -----
                            Impudent Oyster
                            15 Chatham Bars Ave, Chatham, MA 02633

                             
                            1. re: foodwallguy

                              FWG...we could have warned you about JTs, mentioned often on this board. Sorry to hear your confirmation.

                              I have to ask, what is a Food Wall?

                              1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                JT's was a pressured choice. We arrived in Brewster at 1 and our house was a 2 pm "check in". JT's was just there. Next time i'd rather eat sand. Abba was fantastic last night. The lamb was as good as it gets. The food wall takes up 3 walls in my kitchen. Every time I anticipate a great culinary experiences, I take pictures of the food before it's consumed. If it's great, it goes on the "foodwall" either in a 5 x 7 or an 8 x 10 picture. I've got a lot of good stuff on that wall. I have 4 pics from the Brewster fish house. I thought i'd have to re arrange the wall when I heard it sucked. I was happy with it this year, but it has slipped a bit. Just about to leave for Fin tonight. I'll let you know...

                        2. re: foodwallguy

                          Another thumbs up for BFH. We visit Brewster for a few days every May and had our 4th dinner at the Fish House last spring. We had hoped to try Fin, but it was closed that evening. Happy to say our dinner was just as good as always. My wife, who's vegetarian had a pasta dish that she called one of the best ever and my fish entree was as good as previous dinners. Of course, this was still offseason and not as hectic, but we detected no decline at all.

                    2. Hate to pile on, but we just got back from the Cape, and our dinner at Brewster Fish House was mediocre at best. We have eaten there for 5 years, but no more. When we return to the Cape in two weeks, we will be trying Fin, hoping to rekindle the love.
                      The other big downer was Villa Roma - really bad Italian.
                      On the plus side, Sesuit, Norabella, and Ocean House were all A+, as usual.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: terrystu1

                        terrystu1,
                        have to agree about Villa Roma--that's some bad Italian food .
                        really want to try Norabella.
                        Sesuit and Ocean house also agree they are good!

                        1. re: chauncy19

                          Well, that makes 3 recent knocks on Villa Roma, so maybe it no longer qualifies as Top 5 Italian American. I confess I haven't been in a year and a half. A chef change perhaps?

                          1. re: CapeCodGuy

                            I agree on Villa Roma..yuckoooo. BFH...cannot find the love I had 20+ years ago...

                            1. re: CapeCodGuy

                              Dammit CCG. Your cape bible has holes? Fin was good, but I wouldn't put it past Brewster Fish House. The Menu at Fin was limited. Quality was similar. Maybe I hit BFH on a good night. Clientele at Fin were dated too. A bit stuffy and "cape sweater perfectly wrapped around the neck with their new girlfriend" types there. It made me a little ill.

                              -----
                              Brewster Fish House
                              2208 Main, Brewster, MA 02631

                              1. re: foodwallguy

                                FWG...holes? NEVER! A mere pinprick if you ask me. :-)

                                Not every review from Fin has been steller to be sure. Just the room alone, especially up stairs, is reason for displeasure. Not sure when you had dinner, but if it was pre-theater for the nearby Playhouse, that would explain the type of crowd you encountered. Other than that, Dennis Village has changed since I lived there 35 years ago. Too much new money owned by people who think they have a better lot in life than the common man, I guess.

                                Your food wall sounds like fun, btw. Love to see you post a shot of it here.

                                For those of you looking for outstanding Italian/American food, skip Villa Roma (Girardi's too for that matter), based on recent reports, and go to Tomatoes in Sandwich (Heritage Plaze, Rte 130) Had a wonderful hazelnut encrusted Salmon served on a bed of garlicky sauteed spinach last night. My DW had the always excellent veal saltimbocca. Great execution and quality service. I do want to try Norabella as I prefer authentic Italian, and Osteria La Civetta, the gold standard for that fare in Falmouth, is such a drive. I just can't get past the fact that it is a former Del Lemonade stand and therefor the extremely cramped quarters is not something I look for when fine dining.

                                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                  We had a very disappointing dining experience at Brewster Fish House this season. I had already had a bad experience a couple of years ago, but my friends insisted they always have loved BFH and insisted on going again. We got there early so there was no wait. The food was a big disappointment -- one dish too salty, the other bland, one fish dish overcooked, all at premium prices. My friends who used to love this place were shocked. No more BFH for us. Ocean House is a favorite, as is Pisces, and we will stick to those when we go out next.

                                  -----
                                  Ocean House Restaurant
                                  425 Old Wharf Rd, Dennis Port, MA 02639

                                  Brewster Fish House
                                  2208 Main, Brewster, MA 02631

                                  1. re: alohagirl

                                    Aloha, like Fin, I found Pisces noisy and crowded. That was in 04. Has it improved? LOVE OH forever and ever AMEN. Fin, I may go back this winter and give it a go..was not excited at all. CCG, get to Norabella after Labour Day. You will love it. The wine list has room for improvement.

                                  2. re: CapeCodGuy

                                    Had dinner at Ocean House last night. It was everything you could ask for in a restaurant. It really is the quintessential ocean front restaurant. The oysters were terrific. The calamari with fried with slices of chorizo melted in my mouth. The lobster ravioli might be the best I've ever has and the Wagyu steak with the cabernet soy reduction made me want to drink the sauce by the glass. Even the dessert was a work of art. I'm not a dessert guy at all, but when your vanilla ice cream comes in a chocolate bag with chocolate spoons, even I was helpless against it's powers. Tonight we'll try Pisces in Chatham even though I want to go back to the Ocean house.

                                    -----
                                    Ocean House Restaurant
                                    425 Old Wharf Rd, Dennis Port, MA 02639