Farm Fresh Dining

Eating local and farm-to-table trends are growing across Cape Cod, with delightful results for diners. Fish and shellfish from local waters have long been popular menu items, but as more small farms emerge in all 15 towns, savvy chefs are reaching out to farmers as well as fishermen to bring the freshest ingredients to your table.

The Coonamessett Farm in East Falmouth is a 20-acre farming and research enterprise. The folks at the farm not only supply local markets and restaurants with fresh produce, but they also serve breakfast and lunch daily all summer at their own Coonamessett Farm Café. Friday nights feature a farm buffet with about 20 different seasonal dishes, and on Wednesday nights they serve an equally impressive Jamaican buffet with farm-fresh ingredients grown right on the premises. Both buffets are family-friendly activities with live music.

At Quick’s Hole Tavern in Woods Hole, the motto is “wicked fresh” and the menu changes with the seasons. Chef Stephanie Mikolazyk is committed to farm-to-table sourcing whenever possible and features produce from Morning Glory Farm on Martha’s Vineyard and Allen Farm in Westport, Mass. Highlights include local fried oysters and their very popular “pig candy,” made with house-smoked pork shoulder braised in maple syrup and house spice mix.

The Belfry Inn & Bistro in Sandwich also uses fresh regional ingredients and changes the menu seasonally. All of their seafood is locally caught and their meat comes from Pineland Farms in Maine. Some summer highlights at the elegant former church turned restaurant/inn include a Cape Cod lobster roll with lemon mayo, poached local lobsters with lobster brandy sauce and crunchy day boat scallops with mango chutney.

For a more casual meal, Pizza Barbone in Hyannis features Neapolitan wood fired pizzas baked in a Stefano Ferrara oven built in Naples, Italy. The husband-and-wife team of Jason and Ali O’Toole are committed to using the best possible ingredients they can find, like non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) “00” flour from Italy. Everything is made from scratch and they harvest their own vegetables from their rooftop garden, including greens, carrots, beets, radishes, scallions, onions and a wide variety of herbs.

Cape Abilities Farm has expanded to three different farm stands in the towns of Dennis, Chatham and Brewster. The non-profit farm, which employs people with disabilities, is known for its award-winning tomatoes and community partnerships. Many local restaurants, such as Fin in Dennis, The Brewster Fish House, and Pain D’Avignon and The Naked Oyster in Hyannis, feature menu items made with their produce.

In recent years, the Chatham Bars Inn created a working farm on Route 6A in Brewster. The eight-acre Chatham Bars Inn Farm has a farm stand open to the public in the summer – staffed by Cape Abilities – and supplies Chatham Bars Inn’s STARS restaurant with fresh produce daily.

Farm manager Joshua Schiff works closely with STARS executive chef Anthony Cole in planning what to plant and keeps him informed of what vegetables have been picked each day during the farming season. Vegetables picked in the morning end up on STARS diners’ plates the same evening, in myriad creative ways that change daily or weekly. Heirloom tomatoes might be sliced, roasted or turned into a green zebra gazpacho with a miniature white cucumber fresh pickle garnish. Grilled local swordfish could be served over braised Tuscan kale with summer beans and a white carrot and clam fumet.

In addition to fresh vegetables grown at the farm, STARS serves local seafood, including a local catch of the day and shellfish. The oceanfront dining room offers fabulous views of the waters where their seafood is harvested.

While in Chatham make sure to stop by the Hangar B Eatery at the Chatham Municipal Airport for breakfast or lunch. Chef Brian Erskine puts the focus on organic and local products with delicious results. His handmade potato buttermilk doughnuts with house-made strawberry balsamic jam, raspberry red wine vinegar jam and lemon curd are not to be missed. On any given day, he features items like locally grown heirloom tomatoes, fresh lettuce, sweet onions and radishes, depending on what is in season.

Up the road in Wellfleet, The Wicked Oyster focuses on fresh New England flavors with ingredients such as local oysters, mussels and clams. Local specialties include a seasonal risotto with pan-seared scallops and Panko-coated, pan-fried sole with a lemon caper beurre blanc sauce. In the summertime the daily specials reflect a palate of local food, including striped bass and other local seafood, that changes depending on what is available. The Wicked Oyster serves breakfast and dinner.

Eric Jansen, chef/owner of Blackfish in Truro, was hooked on the farm-to-table style of cooking long before it became trendy. His philosophy for all three of his restaurant ventures - which also include Crush Pad, a mobile kitchen at the Truro Vineyards, and Local 186 in Provincetown - is to use the best local ingredients he can find whenever possible. He considers “local” in concentric circles, beginning with fresh produce from farms in Truro. He also sources from farms in other Cape towns, Massachusetts and New England.

The local signature dishes at Blackfish include a seared day boat scallop in Parmesan fondue on the appetizer menu, and an entrée of tuna bolognaise over fresh papardelle pasta. Blackfish always serves some seafood dishes, but it’s not predominantly a seafood restaurant. Unique dishes like rabbit ragu and pork belly are par for the course in Jansen’s kitchen.

At the tip of the Cape, Chef Lucio Garnica at Sage Inn & Lounge in Provincetown puts an elegant spin on local cuisine with items like Wellfleet oysters on the half shell on a bed of lemon meringue. They have an organic green salad with local greens, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber snow and fennel pollen, and a two- part masterpiece deconstructed chowder with littlenecks, potatoes, smoked bacon and clam scented cream that is served tableside. The restaurant features small shared plates and weekly dinner specials like a grilled beef filet with foraged black truffle mushrooms from Massachusetts, a demi-glace and green peppercorns with a quail egg on top, or local swordfish with a house-made sweet soy and ginger reduction with chanterelle mushrooms.

And if you’re looking for farm-to-table dining at home, the newly opened Whole Foods Market in Hyannis has you covered! Known for their diverse selection of natural and organic foods, Whole Foods stands firmly behind its belief that food in its purest state is the best tasting and most nutritious food available. The Hyannis location even has a catering department, which can combine quality ingredients and authentic flavors to create dishes that are right for any occasion. Or dine on-site at one of their picnic tables!

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