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Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary by trying a new restaurant here on Cape Cod. New to us that is. ABBA, located at 89 Old Colony Way in Orleans, opened in November 2001, but yesterday was the first time we had an opportunity to dine there. We were welcomed by the effervescent hostess, who gave us our choice of tables from a cozy nook in the corner to a lively table near the miniscule bar, or on the tented terrace with its billowing ceiling and airy feel. We chose the intimate corner, of course, to mark the special occasion.
Renowned for its pan-Mediterranean menu, ABBA’s Israeli chef specializes in unusually flavorful dishes with a distinctly Thai twist. Our waiter, Tom, was attentive and knowledgeable, sharing his insight into the restaurant’s menu offerings and proffering a confident review of the spices used to infuse each dish with its unique flavor.
I chose a starter of grilled scallops with an eggplant salad dressed in a grapefruit vinaigrette. It was, in a word, exquisite. Perfectly grilled, the scallops were lightly seasoned and accompanied by a creamy eggplant custard topped with fresh greens. Rich opted for a grilled calamari Thai salad with watercress, and declared it perfection.
The wine list is extensive and is composed of highly rated wines at excellent value. I chose a French red from the Rhone region, but was highly intrigued by the offerings from the chef’s native Israel.
The dining room is an intimate affair, with candles flickering in hand-painted Moroccan tea glasses, banquettes strewn with pillows in rich fabrics, and tables set for 2, 4, and 6 casually, but elegantly placed around the small dining room.
Our main courses were simply divine. I had grilled tuna with a vegetable nori roll in a balsamic, miso, and mustard sauce. The tuna melted in my mouth and the nori roll was a delightful mix of sticky rice with crisp vegetables done tempura style. Rich tried braised beef cheeks in a masman curry, which was accompanied by a golden Yukon potato puree wrapped in a grilled strip of zucchini and a side of grilled broccolini. It was clear his choice hit the mark, as he is still raving about it today.
Dessert for him was panna cotta infused with lavender, and I chose the Oxymoron after-dinner drink fashioned from a mix of Stoli Vanilla, Kahlua & Espresso. The perfect ending to a perfect meal. In the words of our good friend, Jerry McGuire (the one and only) ABBA just became our “new favorite Cape Cod restaurant”.
Rich and I have lived on Cape Cod, happily running our bed and breakfast inn, for seven years now. Yet, today we learned something new about the place we call home. Our inn is located just off Route 6A, affectionately known as the Old Kings Highway. Having been designated one of the 10 most scenic drives in America, Route 6A is also the longest national historic road in Massachusetts. A drive along the winding curves of this historic route will take you past some 200 sea captains’ homes that date back to the 1800 and heyday of the whaling era here on Cape Cod.
In Yarmouthport, a mile and a half strip of 6A has been aptly and officially named the Captain’s Mile, for along this length are 47 stately homes that belonged to former sea captains. In 2004, the Yarmouthport Historical Society completed extensive research that identified 55 properties along that route that were once owned by men who sailed the seas. Many are still private homes, although some have been converted to bed and breakfast inns or other commercial enterprises. In honor of their unique history, each sea captains’ home along the Yarmouthport Captain’s Mile proudly bears a black and gold Schooner Plaque near the front door as a means of identification.
So today as we drove this historic route, winding along the sinewy tree-lined curves past manicured lawns and well-tended gardens, we tried to spot the Schooner Plaque homes and imagine what life was like for the hearty sailors that took to the sea in pursuit of whales or some other treasure, and the wives and children they left behind.
There are days when you toil at this thing called inn-keeping, and days when it seems as if the moon and the stars align to beam all their energy directly on you. Today was one of those days…a moon and star day.
When you are a small business, like the High Pointe Inn, competing in a big pond, like Cape Cod, it is often an effort to stand out among the many fine lodging establishments that dot the landscape. But today the light shone on us, and we are so grateful to be recognized as one of the nicest places to stay on Cape Cod by not one, but two publications, one national and one international.
First, we received a letter from Foder’s Travel, the leading publisher of guidebooks for American travelers, informing us that the High Pointe Inn has been selected as a “Fodor’s Choice 2010” establishment. Each year their team of expert travel writers from around the globe select an exclusive list of lodging accommodations as the best places to stay while visiting a particular region. This is the second time we have been recognized by Fodor’s as a Cape Cod “Fodor’s Choice” lodging establishment and we are sincerely grateful for the wonderful recognition they bestowed upon us.
Incredibly, as if that weren’t enough, in today’s edition of the London Telegraph, the High Pointe Inn was featured in an article written by Pamela Petro, entitled “Cape Cod: A Cape for all Seasons”, as one of the “finest water-view lodgings” on Cape Cod. We were delighted to among such fine company that included the Chatham Bars Inn and the Wequasett Inn, two of what many consider to be world-class resorts.
We count our blessings every day that we live and work in this beautiful part of the planet and we are delighted to share our small, but intimate B&B with guests who travel here from around the world. With any luck, we’ll be here for many moons to come.
As innkeepers on Cape Cod, Rich and I are often asked for restaurant recommendations by our guests. Part of our job, as we see it, is to be knowledgeable about all things Cape Cod so that we can guide our guests to the best places for an authentic and memorable experience. This includes scouting out the best places to catch a sunset, off-the-beaten path spots for a hike or a picnic, and knowing where all the lighthouses are located and when they might be offering tours. It’s a challenge, but well worth the effort and much-appreciated by our guests.
The High Pointe Inn sits up on a hill overlooking the Great Salt Marsh and the dunes of Sandy Neck Beach, with Cape Cod Bay in the distance. In season, we have the distinct pleasure of serving breakfast on the 75-foot deck that spans the back of the Inn. Guests enjoy having a leisurely breakfast al fresco, listening to and watching the birds, with the scent of summer hydrangea wafting up from the cobblestone courtyard and fountain below.
Dining on or near the water adds a certain something to the experience that is hard to define. Perhaps it’s the vastness of the ocean that puts things into perspective, or the gentle ebb and flow of the sea as it washes ashore that seems to sooth the soul. Whatever it is, dinner for two with an ocean view is one of the most-requested recommendations we are asked for by our guests.
So this year it was our personal goal to seek out, and of course sample, as many restaurants with a water- or ocean-view as time and waistlines allowed. Many restaurants offer an outside dining option along with enclosed dining, but the unifying feature, whether inside or out, is a water view. Here, in no particular order, are several restaurants that meet the criteria and are well worth considering on your next trip to Cape Cod. Bon Appetit!
We were invited to an open house last week at the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable. We have owned the High Pointe Inn on Cape Cod since 2003 and have often driven down Bone Hill Road to visit friends, passing the sign at the entrance to the Sanctuary. But we had never taken the time to drive in and explore the grounds. So we were curious as to what the place was all about.
Wednesday dawned bright and beautiful on the Cape, and after serving breakfast to our guests, we gussied ourselves up and headed out for an adventure compliments of Mass Audubon, who operate Long Pasture. You approach the Wildlife Sanctuary from a long dirt drive off Bone Hill Road. At the end of the drive sits a modest cottage clad in cedar shakes and surrounded by grassy fields and dense forest. Our host, Ian Ives, greeted us at the door and welcomed us to explore the visitor’s center while we waited for the other guests to arrive. I found myself drawn to the large picture window at the far end of the room that framed the most incredible view of Sandy Neck, a dune covered barrier beach that extends seven miles and protects Barnstable Harbor from the open waters of Cape Cod Bay.
Once all the guests had arrived, Ian took us on a tour of the 110-acre sanctuary, along a portion of the 2.5 mile trail network, and through a variety of wildlife habitats, explaining the evolution of the property and its current mission. Sherman Parker, original owner of the property, donated a series of parcels to Mass Audubon beginning in 1973 in memory of his wife, thus protecting over 100 acres of harbor front, wetland, and upland for future generations to enjoy. Of particular interest was the Marsh Boardwalk that provides access into the Great Salt Marsh, the second largest salt marsh on the east coast. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall the wildlife sanctuary offers guided kayak trips, some of which launch from the boardwalk, and all of which are guided by a naturalist. You can do a birding paddle, a twilight paddle, a full moon paddle, and much more for $45 per person ($40 for members) including all equipment. Reservations are recommended.
Also gracing the grounds of the sanctuary are vast tidal flats, butterfly and vegetable gardens, and a small collection of farm animals. On Wednesday evenings they offer marine biology lectures, and weekly throughout the summer teachers and naturalists provide interactive, hands-on learning experiences for children, plus adult and family outdoor programs and lectures. Visit Mass Audubon for a list of scheduled programs at Long Pasture, as well as at any of their other facilities located throughout Massachusetts.
The Sanctuary is open every day, dawn to dusk, and you are welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds, explore the shoreline, launch a kayak, or just sit back and savor the breathtaking view.