Cape Cod is a solid, reliable little seafood place of simple charm and simple cooking. There is no bouillabaisse here, no fish in parchment; there are no sauces to speak of.
But they know how to buy seafood and how to broil and fry it, which, after all, is what traditional seafood restaurants are all about anyway. Prices are moderate, service is friendly and efficient, and the dining room is austere but very pretty, with polished oak tables, soft lighting, a seaside mural, and odd but effective "windows" that are mirrored to reflect the room.
Cape Cod is one of the few restaurants where one of the highlights of the house arrives before you've ordered: Homemade rolls, brought as soon as you're seated, are exemplary -- yeasty, crusty, with wonderful texture and flavor, some with sugar and cinnamon, some plain. What a treat!
For starters there are mushroom caps stuffed with excellent chunky crabmeat and a good, peppery tomato-based crab soup crammed with vegetables -- just a bit of crabmeat, but plenty of flavor.
But stay away from the clam chowder and the cream of crab soup, both of which are floured almost past the liquid point. The oyster stew is generous with big, plump oysters, and it's made with the requisite milk-butter mixture, but it's totally bland, seeming to lack even salt and pepper.
Crab imperial is an impressive rendition, with huge pieces of lump crabmeat, barely moistened by a bit of binder. But it suffers, although not as acutely, from the same shortcoming as the oyster stew. It needs flavor.Note that the most economical way to have the crab imperial is stuffed inside a broiled fish dish.
Fried foods have been consistently top-notch. The batter is delicate, the surfaces crisp and dry, the oil tastes fresh, the color is golden light, and there's no penetration of oil into the interior of the food.
The fried shrimp and scallops are acceptably plump and tender, the oysters properly juicy in their batter cocoons, the fish fillet fresh-tasting and not overcooked, the french fries excellent. The combination fried platter, which is something of a rarity in a seafood restaurant, is worth considering here.
The one flop among the fried items are the crabcakes, which are greasy, heavy, brownish and mushy. It's hard to believe they came from the same kitchen as the other fried items.
Broiled fish is fresh, generously portioned and cooked carefully, meaning that it's not left on the heat long enough to dry out or turn to mush. In fact, on a couple of occasions, we've had it a tad undercooked, which is easily solved by having it returned to the kitchen for another quick pass in the broiler. Better underdone, which can be fixed, than overdone, which is a total loss.
Norfolk dishes, plain shellfish sauteed in butter, are good. They're not afflicted by an excess of melted butter, as in some restaurants.
When it comes to side orders, remember that the green beans and applesauce are canned. Choose instead the decent coleslaw or potatoes. Early-bird specials are available weekdays before 6 p.m.