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Eating in Orleans, MA (trip report)

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The setup: take our 20 month old daughter to play at the beach. Eat some yummy stuff while there.

The location: borrowed house in Orleans, MA- the "elbow" of the Cape

The specifics: looking for some quick meals in casual to mid-level settings (see: toddler. Also: pregnant mom). I noted a lack of general Orleans threads with a search, so decided to add my notes. Obviously not a high-level chow experience for our family vacation, but hopefully will be helpful for other travelers and families. Clearly we would have preferred to try Abba or any number of places out in P-town, but not to be...

Sunday- dinner at Cookes- had read a back-and-forth about food there vs Sir Crickets, but we decided the covered outdoor dining was a plus, as was the availability of high chairs. Fried clam platter was good, I'd give it a B+, and a bit pricey at $22. The clams just weren't as big and juicy as one would hope, but my standards are high (Neptune Oyster in the North End has the best I've ever had; the Clam Box in Essex is second, and I've had better at Kelly's in Revere Beach) Fries were limp and pretty poor. Fish was good- side of rice pilaf was as to be expected at a seafood shack- greasy and salty. Slaw was tasty. Clam chowder was extremely thick- bordering on gluey. Good flavor, but could have used more clams. I can't believe anyone voted this "best on Cape" but then again every single seafood joint seems to have received that accolade at some point. I would call it "serviceable, especially if you're hungry and in a rush."

Ice cream from Hot Chocolate Sparrow- they serve Richardson's. Nothing special but still tasty.

Monday- followed a rec for breakfast at the Cottage Street Bakery- I would call this our only total miss. Maybe our fault, because in reviewing the rec was technically for baked goods and after our fried food feast the night before, we decided whole grain bread with omelette sandwich was a bit healthier than pastries. However, they also advertised sandwiches and homemade bread so we thought we would be good to go. I think they microwave the eggs- sandwiches were composed of a rubber disk of egg-like material on completely dry toast which had just a hint of whole wheat. I had veggies on mine which turned out to be slices of raw red onions and jarred roasted red peppers. For $5, they need to step up the game on these because any airplane breakfast I've had was better. Coffee was fine.

Lunch was sandwiches from the Hot Chocolate Sparrow. Turkey on focaccia with pesto and artichokes. Good option for a picnic at the beach.

Dinner- went to Mahoney's Atlantic Bar and Grill on Main St. This was a pleasant surprise. We really wanted to get some healthier food into our kid, and it's hard to avoid the ubiquitous fries-for-dinner syndrome on the Cape, but we were worried this would be too fancy. We went right at 6, plenty of seating although there was a wait by the time we left at 7, and pretty casual and family friendly. I had blackened striped bass with mango salsa, a special at $28. Sides of mashed potatoes and asparagus were delicious, fish was tasty although a smidge over-cooked. My husband had the roasted half duck special with cherries with a side of cous cous and asparagus which for $24 was a very nice plate and only $2 more expensive than fried clams and greasy french fries. Our toddler happily chowed on cous cous and some duck. No time for dessert- sent a representative out to pick up ice cream from the Ice Cream Cafe after bedtime for the baby-- homemade, delicious! Highly recommended, especially the dark chocolate chip.

Tuesday- breakfast at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow. Excellent drip coffee, excellent iced mocha latte. Pastries- broke down and decided to go for the junky option- not sure if they make them in house, but the almond croissant was very good and the muffins were good too.

Lunch- swung by Young's Fish Market in Rock Harbor for their rumored $10 lobster roll. They're pre-filled and wrapped, which does not help with the sogginess of the untoasted roll, but hey, they're $10. I would have preferred a bit less mayo, but the meat was delicious. Did I mention they're $10?

Anyways, that's our wrap up. Would be eager to hear of others' similar experiences as we hope to make this an annual trip and maybe come up with some favorite places to look forward to.

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  1. Fun review...Try JoMamma's (Orleans original location) for breakfast bagels....up the road, Friendly Fisherman (Eastham) for seafood in the rough and and a bit further up, PB Boulangerie for baked goods in Wellfleet. I am not a huge fan of Chocolate Sparrow but glad you loved it. I did enjoy a hot chocolate there last winter with marshmellow. Never heard of Youngs..is it new? I think Sir Cricket's is pretty good actually. Some love Finbar but I believe their fish tacos are made with Tilapia.

    1 Reply
    1. re: phelana

      Thanks. I wouldn't say we "loved" Hot Chocolate Sparrow, but it sure is conveniently located and we found it reliable. Ice cream was definitely better from Ice Cream Cafe.

      I think it's Youngs-- it's the little shack right across from Cass' on the dock in Rock Harbor. Their steamers looked excellent at 4.99/lb.

    2. Nice report. Thanks for posting.

      Another nearby spot for decent b'fast is Hole In One. Old fashioned donuts and full breakfasts with many healthy options. I second phelena's JoMama's bagel rec. You could also go into Chatham for Hangar B for possibly the best breakfast (and great lunches,too) on the planet. His red flannel hash made with beets is legendary.

      Cooke's gets mixed reviews and now you know why. Honestly $22 for a clam plate with small bellies is borderline criminal.

      A nice lunch option that gets almost no love on this board is The Orleans Inn. Only go if you can get a seat on the covered waterfront deck in the back, and always go for lunch. It's fairly priced, pretty good basic food. They do a nice lobster salad for a reasonable fare, sandwiches and the like. The view of the cove is the star.

      I'm fond of Emack and Bolio's for ice cream in that area.

      10 Replies
      1. re: CapeCodGuy

        heard a rumor that H&H bagels went out of business if that is true (big if) JOMAMA's bagels now come from where? Admit never been to JOMAMA's but want to go. I am a NYC bagel lover! Can't seem to find anything remotely as good on Cape Cod. was hoping this was an answer.

        1. re: chauncy19

          It is true, although there are new rumors that H&H will be revived--and if they are, will their bagels and bialys really be as good.

          For ice cream, theres also the Sundae School in E. Orleans.

          1. re: chauncy19

            From what I heard only the H&H store near Zabar's was closed. The wholesale operation continues.

            1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

              sorry if i am hijacking this tread. so is JoMamma's still selling H&H bagels?

              1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                Well, after googling H&H and glancing at the responses, the business failed to pay taxes and went bankrupt to boot.

                1. re: sr44

                  I hadn't heard that. Bad news!!

            2. re: CapeCodGuy

              Respectfully disagree about the Orleans Inn. Four of us had lunch there in July and we opted to eat in- it was too hot out- and the dining room, view, service were terrific. The food not so much. The clam chowder is way too thick for my taste, a real disappointment. Three of us had three different luncheon salads that were meh- under dressed and mainly lettuce- we each ate less than half. It appeared the winner was fish and chips, although I only had a chip, and the person who ordered that dish was the guest of honor and she said it was lovely and ate the whole thing. Not cheap either but we were allowed to linger and order leisurely. Maybe we just ordered wrong but chowder and salads at lunch seems like something a basic place like this should do better.

              1. re: Berheenia

                For a different perspective..I know a few food reviewers on Yelp and can trust their judgement (Laurie P - no relation).

                http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-orleans-i...

                1. re: phelana

                  I see the woman who gave it 1 star was there the same day we were. Maybe that was the day they let the dishwasher take over the salad bar and make the chowder.

                  1. re: Berheenia

                    Mostly positive reviews. No one will mistake it for 4 star, or even 3 star dining, but it seems rather universal that when sitting on the covered waterfront deck for lunch, people enjoy the experience. As a comparison, we ate at Baxters in Hyannis yesterday for lunch and for $60 without drinks, was typical of a mediocre overpriced waterfront Cape Cod restaurant. Orlean's Inn meal would have been about 25% less and as good or somewhat better.