I’ve had some great meals on Cape Cod and Nantucket, but most of them are made at home with goodies from the farmer’s market and the local fisherman. Dining out on the Cape has historically been a bit of a let down. I would head to Wellfleet or Nantucket leaving my high standards for dining out in Boston and Cambridge behind and putting my palate on “vacation mode” letting a mediocre dish slide and putting up with paying for dishes I’d rather have never eaten. It’s not that the food is terrible, it’s just that I am my father’s daughter and I hate wasting money (and let’s face it calories) on something that isn’t just right.
Over the past few years, more and more year-round (or close to it) “city caliber” restaurants, bakeries and markets are setting up shop on the Cape. Setting up a restaurant in the city is hard enough. Chefs are struggling to find just the right people to work alongside them. Finding people with training, the passion, the drive to work in one of the hardest and often least rewarding jobs outside the “big city” is even harder.
A few weeks ago, my daughter and I met some friends in Falmouth for the afternoon and were invited to check out Bear in Boots. Bear in Boots is a new gastropub right in the center of town. I was a little hesitant because how good could a little gastropub in Falmouth with a British pub-like name really be? I’m happy to say I was knocked right off my high city dining horse by this warm, fuzzy, welcoming, and totally talented Bear.
Let’s start with the space. The pub has a beautiful bar, and although it’s fairly small inside there are plenty of tables and even a fabulous chef’s table right by the open kitchen. It’s not dark and crowded like an old pub nor overly sleek or modern. It feels comfortable and warm like being at a friend’s house (who happens to have a dining room that seats all your friends) and who happens to have a fabulous designer.
Okay now let’s get to the really good stuff. From our meal, there really was nothing that Chef Gates Rickard didn’t execute well. I have to admit that I’ve never had a homemade ketchup (sorry Tony Maws you’re still fabulous and we’ve been craving KT&T lately) that I like as much as this one. I was even suspect of the pretzel (we did just have one of the best in town at home at Bronwyn’s so this was going to be tough competition) because it was the “wrong” shape. The pretzel was less German bretzel and more American soft pretzel and the mustard and beer cheese just took it to the next level. There are so many ways the pretzel could be wrong or the dips. I’ve been to some great restaurants where either the bread is off or the condiments are sub-par. Then chef surprised us with some perfectly made raviolo al uovo with duck confit and kale from the garden. Below is a slide show of the dishes we sampled. Each one was really made perfectly. There are some dishes we are craving more than others, and the chef’s garden dish was tasty but I thought perhaps a spring asparagus didn’t belong in a mid-summer dish, but that’s just nitpicking.