Edible Reads Spring 2018
Have you ever found yourself quietly humming the old Thompson’s Clam Bar jingle while driving past Wynchmere Harbor in Harwich Port? If you can conjure up a few bars of that tune, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the cauldron of memories and recipes percolating throughout Historic Restaurants of Cape Cod. Christopher Setterlund revisits the shuttered front doors and back stories of restaurants from long ago, while considering menu favorites and remembering rustic staples of simpler times, as well as the often-forgotten pomp and panache of whitegloved celebrations.
Setterlund, a ninth-generation Cape Codder, is the perfect tour guide, and his passion for the past adds spice to the stories as he takes the reader back in time. A visit to the more recent past, like Hyannis’ Starbuck’s (1986-2006) and Mildred’s Chowder House (1949-1999), often begs the question, “Has it been that long already?” while iconic fine-dining destinations, like Ostervillle’s East Bay Lodge (1886-1998), take the reader back to a place when men wore formal wear to dinner while their wives enjoyed the trappings of white tablecloths, fine china and silver.
Do you remember eating at My Tin Man Diner in North Falmouth? Launched in 1941, it got its name when Jimmie Evans, a vaudeville promoter who represented stars that included Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley of The Wizard of Oz fame, purchased it and decorated his eatery with his memorabilia from his favorite Oz clients. This place was so beloved that in November of 2000, after the husband of a jealous waitress burned My Tin Man to the ground, loyal customers still met in the parking lot to sip coffee among the burnt ashes of the shelled diner. How about The Flume Restaurant in Mashpee, which was run by Wampanoag Native American Chief “Flying Eagle” Earl H. Mills Sr.? If you remember The Flume, then no doubt you’ll recall their signature Indian Pudding, and of course the salt codfish cakes, a dish that was actually invented by Earl’s father, Ferdinand.
Whether sipping cocktails at Bill & Thelma’s Jolly Tar Lounge in West Yarmouth, enjoying lobster Thermidor at Provincetown’s Bonnie Doone Restaurant, or celebrity-gazing at Hyannis’ The Paddock, the restaurant anecdotes are fascinating, but it’s equally interesting to read what happened to the men and women who made their mark on Cape Cod (as of the book’s launch, Chief “Flying Eagle” is still going strong at 88), and if you’re like this reader, you may find yourself driving around with a handful of the old restaurant addresses, hoping to sneak a peek at the past, while quietly humming a familiar restaurant jingle.