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No one goes to Cape Cod for the food — or do they? Actually, the Cape has always been a great place for a pit stop. Farmers’ stands dot U.S. 6 and 6A, the Cape’s main arteries. On your way to the beaches, you can stock up to your heart’s content on the local produce, not the least of which being the delicious corn and tomatoes. Seafood too, for it’s a rare town on the Cape that doesn’t have a fish market where you can get Maine lobsters and plenty of succulent native Wellfleet oysters. But restaurants? It used to be that a culinary outing at the Cape meant standing in line at a fried clam shack. Today, the Cape’s top eating spots — most of them located in Provincetown (P-town, as the natives call it) and in Brewster, Mass. — are far more interesting than that. An argument could be made that the two best restaurants on the Cape are both located in Brewster. Chillingsworth may be a bit formal, but the French cuisine is based on classic principles, and the wine cellar is outstanding. Game in season is a specialty of the house. High Brewster is a country inn with an accompanying restaurant, set in a colonial farmhouse. Here, the cuisine is very American: rack of lamb, grilled duck breast, squash soup, and apple rum ice cream. Provincetown boasts more good restaurants than any other town on the Cape. Front Street, known for its Mediterranean cooking, is a charming restaurant beloved by locals. Nearby Martin House is cozy and intimate, seductively inviting, while the Dancing Lobster, also close at hand, is known for its brilliant carpaccio. Inevitably, though, you’ll want to do some cooking yourself, especially if you’re renting a cottage. While you won’t have any problem finding prime local produce, you will have some trouble finding a decent bottle of wine. The average liquor store on the Cape is just that: average. One notable exception is Orleans Liquor Loft in Orleans (Tel. 508-255-2812). Chablis with those Wellfleets, anyone? ZAGAT RATINGS — WHAT THE RATINGS MEAN The Zagat ratings are based on a 0- to-30-point scale and are for Food, Decor, and Service, in that order. The fourth column, Cost, reflects the estimated price of a dinner with one drink and tip. Lunch usually costs 25 percent less. 0-9 Poor to Fair 10-15 Fair to Good 16-19 Good to Very Good 20-25 Very Good to Excellent 26-30 Extraordinary to Perfection Aesop’s Tables 22 20 19 $39 316 Main St. (next to Town Hall), Wellfleet, Mass. 508-349-6450 An intimate New American seafooder in a white clapboard house, Aesop’s Tables is an oasis in this land of fish and chips. Fans claim that the oysters here are nothing short of “divine,” while most of the other dishes on the menu could be described as hearty and satisfying. The setting is pretty, especially if you’re sitting by a window or out on the patio. Abbicci 24 21 22 $42 43 Main St (on Route 6A at Willow St.), Yarmouth Port, Mass., 508-362-3501 This Italian-Mediterranean is noteworthy for its creative pastas and other inventive dishes, and the quaint house in which it’s located is both beautiful and romantic. A few critics fault the too-close seating and the lackluster service. Chillingsworth 26 25 25 $57 2449 Main St. on Route 6A (at Route 124), Brewster, Mass., 508-896-3640 Fans of this contemporary French give it five stars for its multicourse gourmet spectaculars (offered in two evening seatings), exceptional service, and rarefied atmosphere. There’s a casual cafe for those stung by the “astronomical” prices, but enthusiasts insist that you get what you pay for here — the Cape’s ultimate dining experience. High Brewster Inn 25 24 25 $50 964 Satucket Rd. (at Stony Brook Rd.), Brewster, Mass., 508-896-3636 One of the great country inns of Cape Cod (dating back to 1738) is home to this beautiful, innovative American restaurant. It’s a wonderful vacation treat with memorable food, superb service, and an enchanting atmosphere. Front Street Restaurant 25 20 22 $41 230 Commercial St. (at Masonic Place), Provincetown, Mass., 508-487-9715 Despite the years, this creative Provincetown Mediterranean, tucked in the brick-walled cellar of a Victorian mansion, remains unchanged. Loyalists like its “cavelike” atmosphere, though some have begun to feel that it’s time for an update. Dancing Lobster 24 19 18 $37 371 Commercial St. (at Johnson St.), Provincetown, Mass., 508-487-0900 “All the seafood dances” at this trendy Italian seafooder, which boasts some of the best food and views in Provincetown. There are criticisms: waits can be very long on summer weekends; there’s a bit “too much attitude;” and, some claim, the food’s not as good as it used to be. Red Pheasant 23 23 23 $42 905 Route 6A (at Elm St.), Dennis, Mass., 508-385-2133 Locals love the cuisine served at this delightful New American with its Asian and Mediterranean touches (caramelized ginger sea bass with sesame mussels, for example) and a variety of game dishes. The atmosphere is warm and romantic; the setting, a historic Cape home. Martin House 23 23 22 $42 157 Commercial St. (at Atlantic St. Landing), Provincetown, Mass., 508-487-1327 A grand old house (circa 1740) in Provincetown is the domicile of New England cooking that’s been consistently excellent for years. The fetching decor includes delightful private rooms, a beamed loft, and a garden terrace. The superb presentation, though, comes with a price.

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