April 27, 2007
It was a dark and stormy night, and no one wanted to leave the house, but since no one wanted to cook dinner either, my family trudged out in through the rain to enjoy a friendly meal at the Orleans Inn. The landmark building is the only waterfront restaurant in Orleans and, under the ownership of the Maas family since 1996, the building has been beautifully restored.
Perhaps more important, the Maas family understands what hospitality is all about.
A gas fire greeted us in the lobby and set the tone for a respite from the storm we watched rage over Town Cove from our table in the tavern. With walls covered with family photos, memorabilia and whimsical signs with messages that focus on the important things in life (like family, faith and humor) there is a sense that you are visiting a home and not just a place of business.
In keeping with the feeling of family fun, each table had a deck of Cape Cod trivia cards that entertained us greatly, especially since we knew most of the answers. Warm and cozy is great, but the big question was could I keep to my budget of $20 in a restaurant I suspected might prove to be a challenge?
While we were deciding what to order, our server brought us a basket of warm and yummy focaccia bread with a bowl of olive oil seasoned with Parmesan cheese and Italian herbs.
Even though most of the entrees were slightly out of my price range, the dinner menu also offered a great selection of sandwiches, salads and appetizers that allowed more creative choices for budget-minded diners.
I decided to start with the small duck salad ($7) and was very pleased with the not-so-small offering of romaine tossed with shredded duck, chevre cheese, toasted pecans and a sherry mustard vinaigrette. It was tasty, intriguing and very filling.
For my main course I ordered the scallop and bacon special pizza of the night for $10. It was a white pizza with a tender but crispy grilled crust. It was topped with mozzarella cheese and bits of scallops and bacon chopped into nicely sized pieces that offered maximum flavor yet were still easy to eat.
The rest of my family fared just as well. My husband ordered a cup of hearty chowder ($4) and the fried fish sandwich ($10). My daughter had the enormous Orleans Inn Appetizer Sampler that included chicken fingers, potato skins and onion rings for $12, and my son enjoyed the juicy Orleans Inn Angus Burger with cheese ($9.50). With everyone happy and full, my 14-year-old daughter was the first ready to leave.
As she waited for the rest of us in the lobby, owner Ed Maas greeted her and gave her a signed copy of “Orleans Inn: A Cape Cod Legend,” the book he wrote about the history of the inn and his family’s efforts to restore it. It was a sweet gesture of friendship from one family to another that perfectly summed up our dining experience.
By: Laurie Higgins