The goods: Massachusetts-born chef Ken Lyon looks to his New England roots for his latest restaurant, The Cape Cod Room. The seasonal seafood of the Northeast – oysters from Wellfleet, Maine lobsters, Ipswich clams – is the focus at this refined supper club. The menu will appeal to those nostalgic for Nantucket fish feasts, as it elevates roadside lobster shack staples like lobster rolls (on brioche here) and fried clams with tartar sauce.
Ambiance: Nestled in the poolside dining room at the historic Bath Club on Miami Beach the restaurant hints at nautical influences with pale blue upholstered chairs, cushy banquettes and framed black and white photographs of seascapes.
The grub: American seafood with an emphasis on retro-classics from New England. Lyon has put Jorge E. Cardenas in charge in the kitchen, a chef whose experience includes working with Laurent Tourondel (of the BLT restaurant empire) and stints at New York’s Café Boulud and Russian Tea Room. Don’t expect lobster shack prices here though, as this spot is aimed at upper-crust diners. Starters are $8-$24, mains are $18-$48 and sides are $6.
Dinner starts off with addictive corn bread logs that set the tone for country cooking. Plunge right into the oceanic goods with a Cape Cod Quahog stew made with cream, salt pork and Quahog oysters or start off light with a tomato bisque dotted with cheddar cheese croutons. High-rollers will enjoy the $120 seafood tower brimming with oysters and clams on the half shell, lobster and shrimp cocktail and Nantucket Bay scallop crudo. Less flashy starters include a cast-iron pot of Tuckernuck mussels made “fisherman’s style” with white wine and garlic.
A highlight on the menu is the Cape Cod pot pie, a hearty casserole of Maine lobster, scallops dotted with peas, carrots and potatoes bathed in a sherried lobster sauce and topped with a thick bread crust. The Provincetown stew is a saffron-scented broth in which bob mussels, ½ a Maine lobster, clams scallops and codfish. Fish dishes include a delicately breaded and pan fried sole and a hefty filet of salmon with crispy skin served with wilted cabbage. If you’re not in the mood for seafood you can choose from a handful of meat dishes like beef short ribs, hanger steak and a Long Island duck breast with cranberry compote.
Sides include Thanksgiving-inspired creations like Indian corn pudding and Narragansett succotash, an autumn’s bounty of corn, lima beans and onions sautéed in butter. Wines are sourced mostly from New York including the house red and whites from Mattebella Vineyards in North Fork of Long Island, a very drinkable and wallet-friendly $28 a bottle.
Verdict: It may be a bit pricier than a lobster shack, but with this restaurant Ken Lyon has managed to recreate the cuisine of a salty New England summer.
Photo: John B. Gynell