While we were on Cape Cod for the weekend, we had the pleasure of good, simple, family meals. TheHearth ‘n Kettle is a local Cape Cod chain of restaurants that I had known only in name until recently.
I’m not a snob, but I’ve definitely been spoiled when it comes to food. I grew up in Canada where we got a great deal of our food at the nearby, primarily Mennonite, farmer’s market. My mom made almost everything from scratch, and she shopped to get the best quality ingredients. I don’t mean that she shopped at little foodie boutiques and high end stores, but she got the best quality for the best prices she could find. We often drove out to get our meat from a farm’s meat coop. We went to the health food store for a lot of our bulk flour and other ingredients. We went to one grocery store for produce and another for meat. I have also lived in France, when I was 7 and when I was 12 as well as travelled throughout Europe during my junior year abroad. So I have eaten well in many a place. I live in Cambridge now and continue to be spoiled. Though I am definitely a foodie, I am not a food snob because I can appreciate a good grilled cheese sandwich with Kraft singles (my parents are rolling their eyes at this I know). I enjoy a drippy, assembly line Burger King burger every once in a while. I’ll even admit I like theChik-fil-A salad, hold the chicken, when I’m shopping at the Mall.
So, when we went to Cape Cod for the weekend, I’ll have to be honest I didn’t expect much. When I think of the Cape, I think of ice cream stands that sell friend food, I think of sandwiches on white soft bread. I think I’m miles away from my culinary home of Cambridge with my crusty Iggy’s bread and my Hi Rise sandwiches. I know there are some fabulous restaurants sprinkled across the Cape. Portuguesebakeries and other hidden jewels have built a name for themselves. Most of the restaurants are on the “high end” side and tend to be not particularly family friendly. With our kids, we love going to the Wicked Oyster in Wellfleet and when they were babies we even dined outside at Winslow Tavern. I wouldn’t want to try to take the kids to some of the other gems of the Cape like Black-Eyed Susan’s on Nantucket where the wait with a reservation can be a while and the restaurant is a bit too intimate for young kids. The other thing that you have to remember is that during late fall and many restaurants are seasonal and I know that. During our weekend of family time on the Cape, we had our meals at the Hearth ‘n Kettle(H’nK). I was pleasantly surprised. The menu had a a wide variety of choices. I always like to get whatever “makes sense” for where I am. If I’m by the water I’m going to get some fish. The seafood was cooked well as was the prime rib my husband ordered. The best dishes to get are New England classics: Cape Scrod, Fisherman’s Platter, Traditional roast turkey dinner. You aren’t going to get the updated gourmet version of these. You’re going to get the classic rendition. I can get “modern, nouvelle, updated, fusion” food at home in the city. When I eat somewhere like the H’nK I want simple, classic and comfort and that’s what they serve.
As I was flipping through the menu, I noticed that they had started to include organic ingredients. This was more than I expected from such a restaurant, but it just goes to show the influence that huge grocery chains such as Whole Foods Market have had on the food we eat and are served.
When I met with Debra Catania, VP of the Catania Hospitality Group, we talked about how important our family is to each of us. Love, tradition, and family are at the core of both our our lives, mine as a stay at home mother of two little ones, hers as a working mother of grown children. This is something that you feel at the restaurant. It is a well run restaurant, not a well-run money-making machine. The staff are extremely nice and genuine. The quality of the food is very good, they go the extra step to make the dining experience a good one and the portions are more than generous. They had local high school students caroling while we dined. This brought me back in time to where I grew up, before I lived in New York and Boston. It was nice to have the small town experience. Live music doesn’t have to be the Boston Symphony Orchestra, I had wanted to take my daughter to hear Elgar but couldn’t coordinate schedules, any live music is an experience for them. Both kids appreciated a few simple carols sung by the students. They asked questions about the pitch pipe, their outfits and about the singers. They got so excited when a familiar song was sung.
So if you are lucky enough to escape and carve out some family time this winter, I definitely recommend a weekend on the Cape and you can rely on the Hearth ‘n Kettle for a friendly, family feel with good, classic New England style cooking.
Bon appetit. ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)