Thursday, October 18, 2007

Christmas on Cape Cod

Cape Cod is well known as a fantastic summer destination. The beaches, the dunes, the sailing, whale watching, golf - all and many more attractions draw crowds of visitors from end of May to end of August. But it's a gem during the remaining months of the year and well worth a trip, even if you could only make it a weekend getaway (but it certainly deserves a longer stay with so many things to do!)

The holiday season is fast approaching and Christmas is a lovely time to spend on Cape Cod. This is the time of tradition and celebration on Cape Cod and you are invited to experience it with the native Cape Codders.

Many towns and villages have tree lighting, Christmas strolls, caroling, special concerts and performances. Historical homes and inns decked in holiday finery open up their doors to visitors. Towns like Falmouth and Chatham have Christmas-by-the-sea traditional celebrations that start right after Thanksgiving day and go into New Years.

Dunbar Tea Shop in Sandwich features a Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol reading - a favorite that always draws a full room. Dunbar Tea Shop is a "historical tea room in the heart of old Sandwich, Massachusetts" - check out their afternoon tea menu for that pick-me-up treat after an afternoon of gift shopping.

Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod and is full of history and charm. The Heritage Museum and Gardens are decorated with holiday lights on at the end of November. The holiday festivities include a Christmas stroll through the town center, caroling, indoor Victorian displays, and free rides on an antique carousel.

Chatham and Falmouth have a month long Christmas by the Sea celebrations - take part in holiday strolls, tree lighting ceremony, tour the historical inns. Caroling in the famous Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth, decorate your own gingerbread house, watch Santa arrive by boat into the Falmouth Harbor - for the complete schedule of events, check Falmouth Chamber of Commerce:

Falmouth Christmas By The Sea Schedule

Get into the holiday spirit as you stroll along the Hyannis harbor and take part in the Harbor lighting ceremony, Watch the wonderful boat parade, see Santa arrive in a lobster boat, partake of the cheer, fabulous Christmas lights all around, free chowder, piping hot chocolate, and the festive hayride.

The Cape Codder Resort and Spa in Hyannis sets up a enchanted village lights and figures in the courtyard - this is always a favorite with children.

Schedule of holiday events in Hyannis

Santa Train on Cape Cod Railroad in Hyannis on Saturdays and Sundays

Enjoy a train ride and lunch with Santa - Cape Cod Central Railroad features special Santa on Saturday and Sunday - music, caroling and candy canes galore!

Don't forget the fabulous shopping and dining opportunities available on Cape Cod throughout the year.

And of course, the beaches remain spectacular no matter the season!

At the end of the day, relax in one of our Cape Cod vacation rentals, in front of a roaring fire, enjoying the peace and tranquility of the area.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Free WiFi points in mid Cape Cod

While I generally don't have a great need to use a public internet access point while on Cape Cod, our recent trip abroad had made me aware that many of Cape visitors might find the information below useful.

We spent a fabulous 10 days in Switzerland, staying in a small village at a lovely villa with stupendous views over the lake and the mountains. Its only drwaback for a net junkie such as myself was the lack of internet access. A lot of time and effort was spent locating internet cafes in the cities that we visited. So in the attempt to save the same effort for Cape guests and visitors, here is a list of 3 location in mid-Cape, all with free high speed internet access.

Panera Bread
Cape Town Plaza (map)
790 Iyannough Road
Hyannis, MA 02601
(508) 862-8015 | phone
(508) 862-8017 | fax

In addition to free internet access, Panera Bread serves delicious sandwiches and salads and mouth-watering breads. It's a great place to hang out with your laptop - cozy, comfortable and free wifi!

Next door to Panera Bread is Burrito Bistro
790 Iyannough Road
Hyannis, MA 02601
(508) 771-6071 | phone

I have reviewed Burrito Bistro in a previous post.

And lastly, the most surprising store to offer not only free internet access but also 5 actual computers visitors can use free of charge - KMart! Yes, KMart. I was very surprised to see that the store now offers free internet cafe of sorts. The store itself has been hugely improved from the KMart of years past - it's clean, well-lit and fairly logicaly laid out, so I no longer avoid it as a plague. The bonus of free computer access is just an icing on the cake :)

KMart is also located in Cape Town Plaza.

In addition to the above free access points, Barnes and Nobe Bookstore across Rt 132 from Cape Town Plaza has paid internet access (T-Mobile).

And of course, we all our homes are set up with high speed wireless as we frequently work from our vacation rentals.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Cape Cod Restaurant Review :: Urban Delights on Main St

We have recently popped into RooBar after more then a year's absence - it's close by, and yet we rarely choose this restaurant, possibly because I am always worried about crowds and noise. RooBar always appears to be packed at night, with loud music and much revelry spilling out of its doors.

We made reservations and upon arrival, the hostess attempted to guide us to the worst table in the restaurant (right by the kitchen entrance), even though there was a very nice booth open. My husband and brother in law immediately unleashed all charm they could master, and after some protestations that the coveted booth was reserved for "mafia", we found ourselves seated at booth by the window and sending a glass of wine as a "thank you" to our hostess.

After this inaspiciuous arrival, we got our menus and a wine list and cracked down to the hard task of choosing. RooBar is a very different type of Cape Cod restaurant - the slant here is urban fusion, with choices such as tuna tartare or mussells provencal, instead of the more typical Cape Cod fare. I remembered stuffed quahogs as being excellent from prior visit and we got a couple of orders of these. They were truly heavenly.

Tuna tartare salad and mussells were a hit. The salmon I ordered was perfectly acceptable, but somewhat on the meh side. I do recall that they make excellent pizzas - the lamb pizza was very good.

I was disappointed in the wine list - I recall more imaginative choices from prior visits, but it would appear that RooBar in Hyannis decided to go the safe route and only stock wines from very large producers (Mondavi, Gallo, etc). The Louis Latour Pinot Noir my sister ordered was adequate but no more then that.

So the food ranged from ok to very good (those quahogs!), the ambience while not subdued, not rowdy either - there was some music and an active bar. After 10 pm, the dining area is cleared out and there's live music and dancing - I think that's why we always see it packed on Saturday nights!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Cape Cod Restaurant Review - B2 Burrito Bistro, excellent choice for a quick bite in Hyannis

Unfortunately, as much as I love spending time on Cape Cod in off season, quite often we are involved in working on one project or another (painting, cleaning, planting, remodeling, etc) and really have no time for a nice sit down lunch during the day. Still, the regular fast food options rarely appeal (if you do not count hitting up MickeyD for fries late in Sunday night, as we are leaving the Cape and it is the only game in town at that hour). Luckily for us, there's the fabulous B2 Burrito Bistro, when the service is prompt and courteous, food is quickly prepared but does not suffer in quality for it.

B2 Burrito has contemporary, warmly decorated interior and it's a pleasure to sit down while waiting for your meal to be prepared or eat in - no sterile athmoshpere of Subway or Papa Gino's.

The signature B2 burrito is a great collection of flavors - beans, rice, carrots, corn, zucchini, onions and broccoli, cheese and sour cream. Personal favorite - steak fajita salad, with *fresh* salsa on top of romaine lettuce, chargrilled peppers & onions, sour cream and cheese. The hard shell tortilla is actually tasty - by the time I was done with the salad, there was no sign that it came in a tortilla shell :)

Chuck loves Fajita Burrito - rice, peppers, onions, cheese, sour cream, well prepared steak strips. My goal is to try the Boston Blue Burrito next - combination of blue cheese, steak and onions is irresistible.

B2 Burrito Bistro is located in Capetown Plaza, in the same strip mall as KMart, Panera Bread and Filene's Basement, right across from Cape Cod mall. The location is definitely short on charm, but oh so convenient if you are out shopping in Hyannis, and the pleasantly decorated interior, excellent service and great fresh food prepared quickly more then makes up for it.

B2 Burrito BIstro is at 790 Iyannough Road, Capetown Plaza, Hyannis, MA 02601
Phone: 508-771-6071

You can get there from our Hyannis Port vacation home by taking Old Town to Craigville Rd to Pitchers to Bearses, and taking a left on Rt 132. From our West Yarmouth vacation homes, you can get there by taking Bayview to Main to Rt 28 to Rt 132.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cape Cod Restaurant Review: Palio Pizzeria - best pizza on mid-Cape

We spent the long weekend in the Cape as we usually do in off season, working on our vacation rental homes (as is also usual :). This time it was finishing up painting of the living room in Bayview Getaway (it came out a lovely soft taupe color, with the kitchen backsplash and the backwall of the staircase a color of milk chocolate).

On the way off the Cape, we decided to stop for a late lunch. I had a thing for Italian but Alberto's on Main St seemed to be a bit of an overkill for a quick lunch, so we compromised on Palio Pizzeria. I have enjoyed their pizza in the summer - love the fact that one can sit outside, enjoying the pizza and a glass of nice Chianti, but was not sure they would be open in February. Not to worry - the restaurant was open and food was excellent as usual.

This Cape Cod restaurant is a great place if you are a fan of thin crust pizza - the pizzas are imaginative, well prepared, huge (small is 14", large is 18"), priced in a very wallet friendly fashion ($12.50 for small, $14.50 for large) and the service is always friendly.

The complete menu can be found here:

Palio Pizzeria Menu

I have seen consistently good reviews for this restaurant on Chowhound and various area dining guides, so our positive experiences (we have eaten there 5 times so far) seem to be a rule, not an exception.

The location is particularly convenient if you are planning to take your kids to Ryan Family Amusement Arcade on Main St, or board one of the Duck Tours amphibian vehicles for 2 hours of fun - this Cape Cod restaurant is located right next door to these recreation options, and across from JFK Museum.

Palio Pizzeria is located at 435 Main Street in Hyannis, about a mile from our West Yarmouth vacation homes (you can walk by taking Bayview, cutting through hospital parking lot by taking Park St, and taking a left on Main St), and 2.2 miles from our Hyannis port vacation rental home (Old Town to Craigville Beach to Scudder to South St to Pearl St to Main St.).

Palio Pizzeria delivers, so if you are staying in the area and want an excellent pizza but do not want to bother leaving the home, call them up at 508-771-7004.

Cape Cod Restaurant Review: Grand Cru Wine Bar - Ambience and wine

We visited Grand Cru Wine and Bar recently... It is not one of our usual restaurants on Cape Cod, as I dislike fighting the traffic on Rt 132. I am also usually not too keen on the idea of dining inside a hotel (Cape Codder Resort and Spa)... However, if one gets past these drawbacks, the Grand Cru Wine and Bar is well worth the visit if you are after the mellow athmosphere, soft jazz music and a good selection of wines by the bottle. The complete menu can be found here:

I have greatly enjoyed garlic bread, lobster bisque (am usually not hugely fond of lobster as I find it lacking in flavor but this was truly truly good) and steak delmonico, thoroughly to die for. It was full of juicy flavor, done exactly as requested (medium rare) and accompanied by excellent mashed potatoes.

Chuck has ordered steak au poivre and found it measuring up 'tre bien' to his gold standard of steak au poivre as served in Le Troumilou in Paris :)

We have sampled both Viogner and Zinfandel at this Cape Cod restaurant (on 2 different occasions) and found both to be very satisfactory. The price of wine by glass or bottle is reasonable ($6-10/glass, $26-44 bottle).

1225 Iyanough Rd.
Route 132 & Bearse's Way
Hyannis, MA 02601
Local: (508) 771-3000
Toll Free: (888) 297-2200

This Cape Cod restaurant is located 3.3 miles away from our Hyannisport Hideaway vacation rental home (Old Town to Craigville Beach Rd to Pitchers to Rt 132) and 2.8 miles from Lewis Bay Retreat and Bayview Getaway vacation rental homes (Bayview to Camp to Rt 132).

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cape Cod Restaurant Review: Brazillian Grill - where if you are not rolled out in wheelbarrow, you have not dined

The Brazillian Grill - where if you are not rolled out in wheelbarrow, you have not dined

We love The Brazillian Grill in Hyannis (Main St)! And it would appear so does the rest of Cape Cod permanent population - do not, I repeat, do NOT, attempt just to show on a Saturday evening at this Cape Cod restaurant, blissfully assuming that the middle of February is no time for reservations. Reservations are essential on a weekend night, no matter time of the year. I suspect that in the middle of summer one has to reserve on weekdays as well.

Why, would you ask, would you brave the crowd, the elements and snag a reservation at The Brazillian Grill? The quality and the variety of food is quite exceptional, and it is matched by a very reasonable price. We consider this Cape Cod restaurant to be an excellent value for money - provided you can get in :)

This Cape Cod restaurant specializes in churrasco - a variety of barbecued meats, that are brought out on rotating basis and are served until the patron screams for mercy. The usual variety includes various steak cuts (New York, flank, etc), lamb and beef ribs, salmon, pork loin, chicken wings, various sausages, filet mignon wrapped in bacon...

The unlimited meat bonanza is matched by a buffet bar that serves a fantastic variety of well prepared foods: from green salads to marinated olives, from sushi to jalapeno peppers, from mashed potatoes to steamed fish. There's usually a chicken dish and an offering of braised beef ribs, collard greens soup, butternuts squash bisque and a clam chowder on offer. Several varieties of olives and at least 10 different varieties of cheese and smoked meats.

The full buffet with meat costs $22, and the buffet without meat is $15. The dessert list has a number of interesting options, from flan to an excellent chocolate cake, all running $4-6. There is a full bar, with a number of Brazillian cocktail options (caipirinha, etc).

The wine list is varied, with a strong emphasis on Portuguese and South American wines. There are several options by the glass, about $5-7 per a genereous glass.

All in all this Cape Cod restaurant is a great value for money and its popularity is well deserved. The athmosphere is jovial but it does not feel overcrowded. There's no parking lot but there's street parking in front of the restaurant.

This Cape Cod restaurant is located about 1.7 miles away from 2 of our Cape Cod vacation homes in West Yarmouth (take Bayview to Main) and 2 miles from our Hyannisport vacation home (Old Town to Scudder to North Main to Main).

Our favorite Cape Cod restaurant has been well reviewed - below are links to reviews on TripAdvisor, Fodors and Cape Dining Out Guide.

TripAdvisor Reviews

Fodor's Review

Cape Dining Guide

680 Main St, Hyannis, MA 02601-5413
: (508) 771-0109