A June 2001 trip
to Hyannis by parramore
Quote: Famous for its Kennedy Compound and known to Cape Cod visitors as the departure point for the Martha's Vinyard and Nantucket ferries, Hyannis Port offers excellent dining, a quaint Main Street, whale watching excursions and very friendly B&B's.
I was a little suprised to sense that Hyannis Port itself has a bit of a mid-Western feel to it--or Middle America at least. Lots of classic cars, stores selling country bric-a-brac, and an attitude that is very friendly but a bit insular (understandable, given the geographic separation of the Cape). Hyannis Port is generally more provincial in feel than the arty Lower Cape, and less historically-focused than the Upper Cape.
Hotel | "The Simmons Homestead"
Guests visiting the Cape for the first time will not have to wonder what to do. Bill is extremely knowledgeable about the area and will offer you printed sheets on daytrips and scenic drives, as well as advice from his storehouse of information. His boundless enthusiasm for the area is catching, and you''ll find that his recommendations are spot-on.
Families with children and those traveling with dogs will be welcomed here, as well as social types who will enjoy the 6 pm wine hour where guests gather to chat on the porches or in the living room of the main house. This is a friendly, lively kind of place, so people looking for that 'just the two of us' feeling may want to consider an alternative. Car aficianados will be blown away by what''s stored behind the house--Bill has a large collection of British sportscars, all in knock-your-socks-off red.
Breakfast: the Simmons Homestead offers a family-style breakfast starting at 8:00 am. Non-morning persons take notice: the crowd is likely to be chipper and lively. Bill serves a down-home breakfast of eggs, sausage, melon, and homemade bread. When you''re in the dining room, you''ll notice a collection of Simmons Homestead All Purpose Drinking Mugs dedicated to guests who have stayed three times--and who have earned the affection of Bill. Bruce Jenner has a mug.
Guests have access to a hot tub on the porch, fireplaces in cooler weather, a lending library, bikes, and pretty much anything else they can think of to make them comfortable, as long as it doesn''t interrupt Bill''s Sunday morning Formula One series.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 10, 2001
Simmons Homestead Inn
288 Scudder Avenue
Hyannis, Massachusetts 02601
Restaurant | "The Black Cat"
In addition to having an extensive seafood menu (I've heard they buy their fresh catch TWICE a day), The Black Cat can also fulfill carnivorous cravings if you're in the mood. I was, and enjoyed a delicious and hearty rump steak--as thick as the span of my hand--while sitting at the attractive bar. The bar, by the way, has excellent nuts and great single malt Scotch--I was with an expert. As to seafood, you'll find a wide variety of local specialties (lobster, cod, chowder) as well as some interesting pasta items (Swordfish Piccata – "pan bronzed center cut swordfish with fresh spinach in a lemon caper butter sauce over angel hair").
These guys know what they're doing--I found the service both professional and friendly.
The vibe is a bit on the upscale side and very festive--a great place to enjoy a meal and kick back a drink or two. Perfect for a group or a date--check to see if they'll be having music and dancing the night you dine. Great location by the harbor near the Steamship Authority.
Black Cat Tavern
165 Ocean Street
Hyannis, Massachusetts 02601
Restaurant | "The Paddock "
For an appetizer I was intrigued by "Mike's Polenta", which turned out to be a mountain of fluffy polenta surrounded by a moat of thick and tasty Bolognese sauce. Very good, and very filling, so share that one. The swordfish special the night I dined here was very good, served with a slightly sweet peppercorn sauce and mashed potatoes. One thing I couldn't get enough of was the bread--fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth bread from a local bakery with an amazingly crispy crust--perfect and highly addictive. Portions are very generous, and you won't leave hungry.
The wine list is the most extensive I found anywhere in the Cape, and an in-house wine steward is available to help you make your selection.
The atmosphere at The Paddock, which has been serving Hyannis Port for 40 years, has a pleasant old school vibe--I enjoyed the live piano music in the background and thoughtful touches like fresh flowers on every table. Service is superior. Great for a special occasion.
20 Scudder Avenue
Restaurants from all over the Cape set up tables, ladling out small plastic cups of heavenly chowder from big, bubbling kettles. A chowder novice, I secretly wondered to myself how different the various chowders could taste, knowing there's not a whole lot of ingredients. The answer is: different! Some were too thin, some too salty, some seemed to have an artificial smoke flavor added which upset the purity of taste. After trying somewhere between 8 and 10 chowders, here’s my final assessment.
#1. Captain Parker’s (West Yarmouth): thick, rich, and delicious: the perfect chowder.
#2. Hearth N Kettle: (Plymouth) a more delicate chowder, wonderful balance of flavors
#3. Something Brewing Company: the Southwestern Chowder has a spicy kick.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 12, 2001
Annual Cape Cod Chowder Festival
Behind The Paddock Restaurant
--The Emperor's Old Clothes: Women's and men's vintage Japanese costumes, including kimonos, nagajuban (worn under kimonos) and kasuri (peasant or homewear). 354 Main Street, Wellfleet.
--LandHo: Best local joint I found for seafood. Lively scene with all kinds of license plates and signs dangling from the ceiling. Chowder just right. Grab a table or belly up to the bar. Route 6A, Orleans.
Scargo Pottery & Art Gallery: Off Route 6A, Dennis. Fascinating pottery workshop and gallery. Someone's usually at the wheel, and the pieces are innovative works of art.
Antiques Center of Cape Cod: Huge showroom filled with antique furniture, clocks, jewelry, china, etc. 243 Route 6A, Dennis.
The Brewster Store: Wonderful old-timey general store. Lots of games for kids and books on the Cape. Try the fudge. Main Street, Brewster.
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