A Standing Ovation for Scargo Café
By: John Lipman, July 12, 2012
JOHN LIPMAN - Located on scenic Route 6A opposite the Cape Playhouse, Scargo Cafe draws the theater and apres-beach crowd year-round.
In an area of Dennis famed for its theatrical icons, the Scargo Café has earned its place on the stage of the stars.
Nestled on scenic Route 6A opposite the Cape Playhouse, the Scargo Café is a desireable dining venue for locals, vacationers and theater-goers alike.
Scargo’s cozy fireplace-hewn entrance draws you to the traditionally styled restaurant on the left or the elegant tavern on the right. The brothers Troutman, Scargo’s owners, embody this same duality – Peter, casual in jeans and sneakers, counterbalances meticulous David, dressed in a perfectly pressed suit with a tie and crisp handkerchief.
The tavern is subtly decorated with modern orange bell-sconces softly illuminating a polished granite bar. Gorgeous yet intimate, it combines bar-edge dining with elegant, informal tables.
The curtains part...
The first act is the tuna martini – silky cubes of sashimi and pickled ginger propped on a cool brine of seaweed salad, drizzled with wasabi cream and sriracha. Sweet honey soy and a sesame seed sprinkle provide a textural contrast to the pepper-wasabi performance.
The soft-shelled crab, a favorite this time of year, is a lime-infused soliloquy of seaside sweetness, softened with a homemade pepper-and-celery remoulade.
The remarkable beet salad features goat cheese, walnuts, and a creamy balsamic vinaigrette on an orchestra of fresh arugula. Warm and thick, the beets are perfectly roasted, grandly sweet and sharp, breaking crisply on the tines of a fork.
For the main act, the daringly named and prepared “deconstructed osso buco” is a chorus of exquisitely tender veal shank chunks tossed in Marsala with fresh roasted vegetables and black tagliatelle.
Tasting is believing...
799 Main Street, Dennis
A limited number of reservations are accepted each night. Call 508-385-8200.
Open 7 days a week, serving lunch and dinner year round
Lunch 11 AM to 3 PM (until 4:30 PM on weekends)
Dinner 4.30 PM to 10 PM (until 11 PM in the summer)
Ideally balanced and perfectly prepared, each element excitedly steps forth for its own brief intermezzo.
The twin wild salmon, an intimate dialogue of sockeye and Chinook, are painted with orange shallot vinaigrette over Yukon gold potato cakes and dressed in a careful fennel slaw that enlivens the fish flavor without overwhelming it.
Scargo’s signature dessert deserves a standing ovation – Grape-nut custard dashed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and whipped cream so indescribably light and dreamy that its fame is justified.
Before or after the show
The Troutman brothers started as busboys at Mildred’s Chowder House in Hyannis, then helped run Dorsie’s Steak House in Yarmouth for five years. They took a gamble on the Scargo Café, and a quarter-century later the show is still a sell-out.
Their success is due as much to business savvy and good marketing as their love of food. Located in a prime venue, they pick up the summer after-theater crowd as well as vacationers and locals year-round. The service is meticulous yet friendly. Chef Jan Wright, who has been with the restaurant for most of its run, crafts a splendid repertoire with a subtle ethnic influence for a diverse clientele.
The menu uses the theatrical word “featured” to announce special dishes, recommending a wine pairing with each. Scargo’s 160-wine assortment has won several Wine Spectator awards. The Scargo Café is also open for lunch, featuring the same menu with an additional savory sandwich selection.
Worthy of an encore is Scargo’s lobster mac-and-cheese, which dazzles the tongue with Gruyere, cheddar, and perfectly steamed, generous lobster chunks nestled in texturally incomparable macaroni.
Applause is also due for the filet trio Arabica, tenderloins of beef with a coffee rub and hazelnut demi glaze, served atop Yukon Gold potato cakes. Finally, a bow for the duck confit and lamb chops: very popular and absolutely outstanding.
Prices are reasonable for fine dining - $6-$14 for appetizers, $19-$29 for mains, and a great lunch menu in the $11 range. There are so many delicious dishes at the Scargo Café that my only recommendation is to see this show again and again.
A healthy choice: Scargo Café was the first Cape Cod table service restaurant to become smoke-free in 1995 and was the only major year-round restaurant with a smoke-free bar and lounge.
The legend of Scargo: The name came from a love affair between a handsome Nobscusset brave and Princess Scargo. While she awaited his return from a long and uncertain journey, her tears of fear formed Scargo Lake, and kept alive a fish given to her as a token of his love. The good news: he came back.