Vacations are a time to relax, be with the ones you love, and enjoy your favorite places to eat. When it comes to food, we tend to go to the same places because they are our favorites, they make great food, tradition, etc. It can be hard sometimes when you go on your yearly vacation to try a different place. It’s like “why would I go here when I need to get this dish at this restaurant?” Well, for you Cape Codders I have the restaurant that you need to make an exception for.
I too fall victim to the ‘tradition restaurants’, but now that going to the Cape is a more frequent thing I can afford to save the favorites for actual vacations and try new places on the short trips! So this trip we decided to try Orleans Public House.
Located on Cove Road, a bit off the beaten path, sits the little restaurant OPH. At first glance you can tell it’s a nice place, not necessarily made for the six crazy kids kind of place, but perfect for a casual yet fancy dinner. The main parking lot is pretty tiny, but there is additional parking across the street.
Upon walking in you immediately feel the warmth of the restaurant. Don’t worry there is air conditioning, but it has a sophisticated, welcoming feel to it. The dining area is pretty small, but there is a bar and outdoor patio, when available. The waitstaff were just darling, girls from Eastern Europe who come to America to work over the summer and pay their way through university. Props to them and their work ethic, the tips go a long way and I know makes me feel good knowing what the money is going towards.
Onto the food: the restaurant had just changed their menu to the seasonal fall menu. I’m sure a good amount of the menu items are year round though. We started with the Shrimp and Grits. Living in Texas now, I said to my parents “I come all the way to Cape Cod to have grits” but these grits were something else. They were crispy and divided into three triangle patties. They were cooked beautifully and tasted amazing. The shrimp was also cooked beautifully. I’m not the biggest shrimp fan, but I could have ordered this as my meal and be happy as a clam. In the dish was also ham and fried brussel sprout leaves. Now ham is ham, hard to go wrong, but brussel sprouts can either be really good or not, depending on how you cook them. When you fry them, how could you! Again, not a brussel sprouts fan, but I could have eaten a plate of them. The sauce they came in was extraordinary too, be sure to save some bread to eat it all up (since licking the bowl is socially impolite). The chef really wowed us with this dish, and it was only the appetizer!
As a family we decided to order separate dishes, but we almost always share them around. We settled on the house made gnocchi, Public House burger, and cod cake sliders.
Gnocchi can be a hit or miss, not every chef is capable of cooking them properly. However, this gnocchi was cooked to perfection. I’m going to use that word a lot in this post, but this meal truly was perfect. It came in a fall vegetable ragout with pan roasted mushrooms, parmesan, and truffle essence. Now I would say, if you’re not a truffle fan (truffle=mushroom), then I wouldn’t recommend this dish. Between the amount of mushrooms and the extra essence it was very ‘truffly’. If you are a fan, though, I highly recommend this fall menu item.
I’ve had my share of burgers, as you can see from my past posts, so when this burger came out I was truly amazed. I ask that you all, before, continuing to read, quickly refer to my Cape Cod Food Trail post and read about the Rock Harbor Burger. Have you read it? Proceed:
The Public House burger was better. From the first moment it was placed in front of me to the last bite, this burger was better. The meat was cooked superbly, each ingredient complimented each other, you got everything in one bite and it worked harmoniously. The house pickles were definitely house made, they were actually sweeter pickles than I expected, but they weren’t overly sweet. The bacon bourbon aioli and smoked jalapeño ketchup really gave the burger a nice smoky flavor, so much so you would have thought they had a smoker in the back. The bun was also very complimentary, it wasn’t dense and didn’t make the burger feel like this huge monster as you ate it, it just condensed and fluffed up as you enjoyed it. With the burger we got the parmesan truffle fries and they were fried exactly the way you want them. Not as good as the Sesuit Harbor fries (see previous post) but very close. The truffle wasn’t overpowering either, which can be another thing chefs tend to overuse, but this chef really knows his stuff and knows when to stop adding.
The third entree we ordered was the Cod Cake Sliders. How can you not eat cod on Cape Cod? The sliders were an excellent portion, three was even too much! Of course you nibble on the fries at the same time, which are equally as delicious. The cakes were cooked beautifully, they had a nice crispy fry. As you bit into the slider, the inside was soft and full of tender cod. The funniest thing about the cod cakes was there was something the chef used, a spice, that we just couldn’t figure out! Our last prediction was thyme, but please if you go and get it, comment what you think it may be!
Being that this was their fall menu, the dessert and drink menu had fall inspirations. Everything was pumpkin spice and fall flavors. With that being said, how could we even pass over the thought of Pumpkin Spice Gelato? Now, let’s be real, pumpkin doesn’t really have a taste. It’s the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and other fall spices that makes it ‘pumpkin’. Still, it all tastes of fall and it’s hard to resist those flavors. The gelato was very delicious, it was denser than ice cream however it certainly didn’t take me back to Italy… For those who don’t know gelato starts with the same base as ice cream, but has a higher milk proportion and less cream and eggs (or no eggs at all). Gelato is also churned at a slower rate so there is less air being incorporated into the gelato leaving it denser than ice cream. Again, it was delicious, but I think they used the word ‘gelato’ to make it sound fancy. The spices were not overpowering, there was a nice hint of them. It came with a delicious ginger snap that was soft and complimented the ice cream wonderfully.
Orleans Public House is definitely going to become a regular vacation restaurant, at least the fall menu convinced me! I am assuming, with having a fall menu, this means it’s a year round restaurant. You never know with the Cape though, it may close come October/November. When it’s the Cape Cod season it may be hopping, but we won’t know until next year! It’s off the beaten path, but Orleans Public House is worth the adventure…and the food!