Fine Dining at the Brewster Fish House

by Donna Cain

We have always loved the Brewster Fish House and recommend it to our guests as not only a culinary treat but also as a wonderful way to experience a Cape Cod landmark. (it use to be a small local fish market)

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The Fish House has a very faithful local following and the owners, Melissa and Vernon are Cape Cod natives that have a delightful entrepreneurial spirit and are wonderful business partners to many in Brewster. Vernon was very helpful to us when we arrived 12 years ago and has helped us to connect with many  local food sources that he has gathered over the years. We continually strive to be farm to table, organic and homemade whenever possible and the Wellfleet oysters shown above are a perfect example of the wonderful bounty that is available close by.

We decided on the Five Course Tasting Menu, not only because everything sounded delicious but also so that we could have a broad tasting of their new menu to pass on our experience and thoughts to our guests. We were also celebrating a very special occasion as we just moved over to the Captain Freeman Inn where we have built comfortable new owners quarters. A new talented innkeeper, Elizabeth will be moving into our old quarters in April at Brewster by the Sea who will bring wonderful new talents to our team! Enough of the celebratory news and on to the food……

The Five Course Tasting Menu is described by the Fish House as “Amuse Bouche”

Love to learn new things and had embraced “small bites” in our cooking schools at the Captain Freeman. Was tickled when I looked up the meaning of Amuse Bouche- as described in Wikipedia

“The amuse-bouche emerged as an identifiable course during the Nouvelle Cuisine movement, which emphasized smaller, more intensely flavored courses. It differs from other hors d’œuvres in that it is small, usually just one or two bites, and preselected by the chef and offered free of charge to all present at the table.

The functional role of the amuse-bouche could be played by rather simple offerings, such as a plate of olives or a crock of tapenade. It often becomes a showcase, however, due to the artistry and showmanship of the chef, intensified by the competition among restaurants. According to Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a popular New York celebrity chef with restaurants around the world, “The amuse-bouche is the best way for a great chef to express his or her big ideas in small bites.”

I like to think of it as a little bite of food to amuse the mouth and invigorate the palate. This idea is our new inspiration for our upcoming social hour this summer. Our new innkeeper Elizabeth loves to cook and is especially fond of appetizers and farm to table cooking. A perfect compliment and wonderful opportunity for us to start a new tradition of gathering with our guests  to talk about their day and to share good food.

The Fish House tasting menu started with a Beet Sphere with Watercress and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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Several years ago I purchased several dozen of these cute little spoons for our cooking schools, and we never used them. After enjoying this little mouthful of heaven I decided it’s time to bring out those spoons for our summer Amuse Bouche at Brewster by the Sea! Byron and I had to laugh as we first thought of eating beets with a fork. I grow beets in our summer garden and love pickled beets that my mom made every year. This little delight, as many might already know, is a beet puree which forms a sphere in the olive oil and is perfectly complimented with the fresh watercress. It slides down your throat almost like a fresh oyster and is bursting with flavors.

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The second course included Wellfleet Oysters with your choice of Ice Grape Granita or the traditional fresh Horseradish. The presentation was a feast for the eyes and palette and the flavors in the Grape Granita refreshing and unique. We noticed the chef peeking out to see how quickly we ate each course and found the timing of each course to be perfect. I also noticed there was no salt or pepper on the tables this year. I had just listened to a foodie talk show mentioned that many of the urban restaurants no longer have salt and pepper on the table as the chef takes great care to make sure each dish is properly flavored. I must say that each course was perfectly seasoned and that while I love our local sea salt in my own cooking, the Fish House seasoned everything perfectly.

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The third course included Sisters Five Dayboat Sea Scallops with Juniper, Phytoplankton, Sea Urchin and Salt “Air”. Byron is not especially fond of scallops and since they are my all time favorite we agreed that he would share 2 of his and I would share the next course since Byron is all about the beef (a Wyoming boy at heart:) I can’t wait to ask Vernon about the meaning of Sister Five……maybe the scallops were caught by a family that named their boat “Five Sister”??? Who knows but the smoky flavors in these scallops were outstanding and the hint of Juniper a delight.

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The Fourth course was truly extra special, and I was a little saddened that I agreed to share half with my hubby. The Sirloin was Twenty Eight Day Dry Aged and served with Eastham Turnips (turnips have never been my favorite but these were really good), Shiitake Mushrooms and Foie Gras Butter. The beef was so tender you could cut it with your fork and the flavors astounding! As we sat and happily talked about our meal and upcoming season I realized that I was perfectly full and content. I had experienced many wonderful flavors, and I felt truly satisfied. The restaurant was filled with lively conversation with just a few patrons waiting for a table, and we never felt rushed.

Last but not least was the final dessert course that included an Orange Mascarpone Crepe with Dehydrated Citrus and Hazelnut Tuille.

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I have been on a new diet “lifestyle eating” plan for the past 5 weeks and happy to report I have lost 12 pounds and feel much better. I had read where if you are going to splurge -use the 3 bite rule. If you are celebrating a special birthday or occasion and want to indulge just take 3 bites and enjoy each one and feel comfortable pushing the plate away. I had to smile when the dessert was placed in front of me as it was a PERFECT 3 bites!  After enjoying each bite I had the thought that maybe we should do a similar citrus crepe for our summer menu. I loved the flavor of the mascarpone and citrus but was a little unsure of the texture of the crepe. My thoughts were solidified when a guest commented the next morning that she did not like the crepe texture as well. It almost tasted like it had pectin in the batter.

The regular menu  included Cod, Monkfish, Cassoulet, Tuna, Salmon, Sirloin and Lobster. The table next to us had the lobster which was from P’Town and included the tail and claw- lazy man style. Hoping they keep the lobster on the menu as many of our guests ask for Fine Dining with Lobster.

Thanks Brewster Fish House for a wonderful meal and for being such a great destination for our guest!

Bon Appetit!

We continue to work on creating excellence to the best of our ability for our guests!

Happy thought for the day…… this guy was parked next to us at the grocery store last summer. Just have to smile:)

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