On a recent family trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, my husband and I were determined to scope out the best lobster roll around. Our cousins, who go to Cape Cod a lot, had raved to us about the lobster rolls there. Since The Cape is known for its lobsters, we knew we couldn’t go wrong wherever we got one, but the question was, which place serves up THE BEST that Cape Cod has to offer?
Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar:
Arnold’s (as the locals call it), is a great place to bring the family. The adjacent Arnold’s Mini Golf (complete with fountains and waterfalls) and gourmet ice cream shop mean you can make a whole afternoon of it. The dining area is huge, and there are picnic benches outside the front of the restaurant as well as in a nice, shaded area next to the mini golf course. When you order off of the kid’s menu (fish and chips, chicken fingers, mac and cheese, pizza; ranging from $4.49 to $9.99), your meal is served on a frisbee to take home. The service is casual. You place your order at the register, and then they give you a beeper that lets you know when to pick up your food.
There are two lobster rolls on order: Arnold’s Cold Lobster Roll (chunky lobster meat lightly dressed with mayo, served cold on a bed of lettuce with Cape Cod potato chips, $15.99, shown above) and the Warm Lobster Roll (served warm with hot butter and Cape Cod Potato Chips, $16.99). We had the opportunity to go to Arnold’s three times on our trip because it was close to where we were staying, and was just so easy and accommodating to families. I tried the cold lobster roll first, which was very yummy. The type of roll they use does not have the most practical shape to sustain the amount of lobster it is supposed to hold, but if the worst thing I can say is that they serve too much lobster, then they can’t be doing such a bad job. Everyone else in our party agreed that the warm lobster roll was the way to go. There’s just something special about buttery, warm lobster paired with crispy lettuce on a sweet bun. The New England Clam Chowder ($4.79 for a bowl) was good, but not transcendent. There are also some nice salads (Greek, Summer Salad, Strawberry Spinach Salad, to name a few options) on the menu, if you’re not in a lobster mood, or if you want something a little lighter.
After lunch, we got a cone at the ice cream stand. Be forewarned: A small cone is four scoops of ice cream! The mint chip was delicious.
Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar
3580 Route 6, Eastham, MA 02642
Sesuit Harbor Cafe
Since we had to pick up my little sister from a bus stop one afternoon in the town of Dennis, MA, we decided to try Sesuit Harbor Cafe. One of the best things about this lobster shack is the location: right on the bay, where you can watch the boats go by as you dine or gaze at the rolling dunes of the nearby beach. Like Arnold’s, the service is casual. You have to wait on line to place your food order, and then a server brings it to your table. Raw bar, drinks, and soup are on a separate line at the Raw Bar shack.
Little J got a little impatient while waiting for our food (he had already reached the point of the meal where he was trying to destroy the salt and pepper shakers) so I took him on a walk to look at all the boats. I love places where there are easy diversions for impatient little ones.
We started our meal off with some raw oysters (not as cold as I like them, but good) and New England Clam Chowder ($4.95). The clam chowder was the best I have ever had, with a heavy cream base, and lots of clam pieces. If you like a very rich chowder, this is the place for you. A neighboring diner told me that she goes there each week to have her usual, the Lobster Caesar salad ($18.95), so that is what I ordered. The lobster on the salad was out of this world. I don’t know exactly what made it so special — I think it was the way the lobster was shredded, and the fact that they were heavier handed with the mayo than at Arnold’s — but even though I had enjoyed a lot of lobster that week, I was still able to eat the whole plate.
My husband ordered the Sesuit Harbor Cafe’s World Famous Lobster Roll (cold lobster in mayo, served with fries and coleslaw, $16.95). The roll here is different than at Arnold’s — served toasted, buttered, and shaped like a cross between a sandwich slice and a hot dog bun. We loved getting the buttery flavor of the bun mixed with the cold, cool flavor of the mayo-covered lobster pieces. If you like a more lightly dressed lobster salad, then you would prefer the lobster roll at Arnold’s. But since I tend to like my lobster salad more well dressed, then between the two restaurants, Sesuit Harbor got the prize.
In addition to lobster rolls and other seafood-based sandwiches, they also serve breakfast (omelets, pancakes and the like) and dinner (grilled salmon, boiled lobster, fried scallops and clams). They also have a kids’ menu.
Sesuit Harbor Cafe
357 Sesuit Neck Rd., Dennis, MA 02638