Old Yarmouth Inn
Among the charming mom-and-pop shops and sprawling sea captains’ homes with gardens overflowing with blooming hydrangeas that line Route 6A is the Old Yarmouth Inn. Established in 1696, it is one of the oldest inns on Cape Cod and retains much of that Old Cape charm. The white picket fence and humble exterior of the inn welcome guests to an evening filled with good cheer, an unforgettable meal, and a staff that has the uncanny ability to make everybody feel like a regular.
Upon our arrival, my guest and I were immediately met with first-class service as we were shown to our table in the tavern, with décor straight from a Herman Melville novel. The atmosphere at the inn is that of a neighborhood pub and has none of the pretentiousness that can crowd a fine dining establishment. Owners Sheila Fitzgerald and Arpad Voros are on a first-name basis with many of the patrons; the group seated next to us had no hesitation about introducing themselves and eagerly discussed highlights of their many past visits to the restaurant.
Bartender Brian Forbes guided us through one perfect recommendation after the next. Our meal began with the risotto ($9) cooked with an array of garden-fresh vegetables and short ribs ($24) that had been slow cooked and were fall off the bone tender. Our entreés—rosemary-garlic grilled rack of lamb (price varies) and hand trimmed, bacon-wrapped filet mignon ($29)—were both served perched on airy, whipped potatoes and asparagus. We were both noticeably less talkative at this point. There was nothing that could be said out loud about the meal that couldn’t be said with a bright-eyed glance at each other in between bites.
With a wine list as extensive and respected as the one at the Old Yarmouth Inn—recipient of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence—neither of us were in a position to make a wise decision. We relied on Brian’s expertise as he paired two glasses of blended reds with our respective dishes.
Finally, we approached the most difficult decision of the evening: dessert. It would have been in both of our best interests to share one plate at this point, but we couldn’t fight temptation. My girlfriend satisfied her sweet tooth with Gifford’s vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two profiteroles and topped with homemade chocolate ganache ($7). I was happy to find a personal favorite on the menu and received a hulking slice of six-layer carrot cake ($8), the cross-section of which was something out of a baker’s fantasy.
The tavern began to fill with patrons as the sun set. Some were stocking up before hitting the road and leaving Cape Cod behind. Others were returning for another summer, celebrating cherished memories over world-class cuisine.
–– Matt Nilsson