I hope I’m not alone in feeling slightly stupefied by “The 99 Best Things to Eat on the Cape” article in the June issue of Cape Cod Magazine. My suspicion over the magazine’s choices starts as early as their #2 selection – namely, the Bread Cone and Dip from Not Your Average Joe’s – written up as, “fresh soft bread dipped into its simple olive oil, garlic, and grated Romano cheese dip.” Now, if the second best thing to eat on the Cape is bread and oil at the Hyannis Mall, then please let me never dine out here again. And, even if the cloud’s part, the angels sing, and God himself feels present in the flavor and sumptuousness of eating oil-soaked bread at the mall, I still call foul. Not Your Average Joe’s is, after all, a chain restaurant (a small Massachusett’s based chain, but a chain nonetheless) and whatever its culinary charms may be, it is not at all representative of our local food culture. So how, pray-tell, can it be #2?
There are other things on the list that bug me, such as the inclusion of several cocktails. Now, as much as I wish it weren’t true, martinis, beer, and Bloody Marys are not food; they are something you drink, so why are they part of a “best things to eat” list? And is it wrong to feel frightened when Cape Cod Magazine writes that the best risotto on the Cape is “made daily”? Isn’t it always? But, there are points where the list and I agree – such as Four Seas Black Raspberry Ice Cream, pies from Marion’s Pie Shop of Chatham, and anything at Inahoe in Yarmouthport, which is my most favorite sushi restaurant on the Cape.
Another point of contention is their claim that the best lobster roll can be found at The Friendly Fisherman in Eastham – when, in my lobster-loving opinion, the best lobster roll, hands down, is served at The Raw Bar in Mashpee, which can be found amidst the various shops in the The Pomponesset Market Place in New Seabury, Mashpee. The Raw Bar is a small, dark, and rather rowdy bar that is rich in down-home charm. Some go for the drinks and (to see or to be) the local color, but I go to enjoy the most audacious and bodacious, lightly dressed, unadulterated lobster roll around.
At $25, the lobster roll is most definitely pricey, but one is enough to feed two or three hungry grown-ups. I like to eat on their patio – with its crushed oyster shell floor and weather-worn picnic tables, surrounded by fresh white lattice fencing, it feels as Cape Cod as you can get – or, even better on a soggy night like tonight, I also like to get it to go (with a couple cups of clam chowder thrown in) and split up that heaping pile of lobster over two or three toasted and buttered rolls (something The Friendly Fisherman gets right and The Raw Bar, with its untoasted roll, gets wrong) – thus creating an easy, perfect summer meal in my own home with no work and no mess.
So, let me know if you think soft bread and cheesy oil at the mall is as good as the Cape can get. If not, I’d love it if you shared your favorite culinary treasures. And weigh in on the lobster roll debate. What could be better than searching high and low for the best lobster roll in town?