Chatham Bars Inn serves up a beachy banquet for the whole family
A Cape Cod culinary spectacle is available through September 6
By Walter & Patricia Brooks
The New England Clam Bake is a traditional method of cooking foods, especially seafood such as lobster, mussels, crabs, steamers, and quahogs. The seafood is often supplemented by sausages, potatoes, onions, carrots and corn on the cob.
While clam bakes are usually held on festive occasions along the coast of New England, the Cape's most prestigious resort, Chatham Bars Inn, on Shore Road overlooking the Atlantic and the harbor, now offers a truly magnificent one to their guests and the general public Monday through Thursday through September 6.
Whether you're a native, "washashore" or visitor, your Cape Cod summer isn't complete without experiencing this quintessential New England style clambake.
The grand bakes at CBI celebrate the best that the Cape has to offer - freshly caught seafood, the aroma and visual spectacle of a genuine clambake, seaside dining with sand underfoot, and a bonfire under the stars.
What goes in?
The mammoth clambake pit is located on the resort's private beach, in front of the Beach House Grill restaurant.
The process begins early in the day when the culinary crew harvests fresh seaweed from the Chatham waters. A bonfire is then built in the 4 foot deep pit, using a quarter quad of hard maple and oak wood laid over 1,800 pounds of rock. The fire heats the rock to a very high temperature. Well tended, the fire will settle down to a bed of hot coals and rock, which provide the catalyst for the bake.
This base of rocks and coals is then covered with mounds of seaweed. The bubbles in the seaweed burst when heated, emitting seawater that steams and seasons the food. Individual cheese cloth bags filled with lobster, clams, mussels, red potatoes and corn on the cob are layered in a manner that ensures perfect cooking times and a wonderful balance of flavoring. The food is then covered with multiple layers of canvas and left to bake.
After an hour of cooking, guests are invited to gather around the pit for the unveiling as the canvas is peeled away. The bags of food are unloaded and served buffet style along with clam chowder, a raw bar, salads, steaks, chicken, gourmet side dishes, desserts and children's fare (including pizza, french fries and chicken fingers).
Guests can eat on the Beach House Grill shown on the right, on the deck or dine around the fire on adirondack chairs.
"The clambakes are without a doubt the biggest culinary draw at Chatham Bars Inn during the summer months," said Executive Chef Anthony Cole. "It's more than dinner - it's an event. Guests love to watch the entire cooking process and ask questions. It's as much fun for me and my culinary team as it is for the guests."
Clambakes are $78 for adults and $38 for children aged 5-12 ($18 for children without lobster). Bakes are served at 6 PM Mondays through Thursdays through September 6. Guests who want to watch the process unfold should arrive at 4:30 PM when the pit is prepared. For reservations, call 508-945-0096.
The historic Chatham Bars Inn has welcomed guests from near and far since 1914.
Located on Shore Road in the quaint Cape Cod village of Chatham, it is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and is listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information or reservations, visit the CBI website, or call 508-945-0096 or 800-527-4884.