An Unexpectedly Delightful Meal
I begin with a tip for dining out on the Cape this time of year: always call first to make sure the restaurant is open. Websites and even Google will not always be correct. And so we found ourselves wandering around dark streets in Harwich and Chatham looking for a second choice place to eat on Thursday night. Del Mar Bar & Bistro was like an oasis of light in a shuttered world, so we pulled in and proceeded to enjoy a spectacular meal.
We were seated at one of the high semi-circle booths with a table topped with linen and white butcher paper. The dining room and adjacent bar were both fairly lively and we had a nice view of the wood-fire oven and open grill. The upscale urban atmosphere made cocktails seem like a nice way to begin our meal.
Del Mar has a creative special cocktail menu that made deciding what to sample difficult. We settled for an “In Fashion” ($10.50) and a Cranberry Negroni ($10). The In Fashion was a balanced blend of Bullet Bourbon, Solerno Blood Orange Liquor and bitters with a Luxardo maraschino cherry served on the rocks. The Cranberry Negroni was made with house infused cranberry Dry Gin, Compari and Sweet Vermouth. Both were excellent.
From the specials page, the blood orange and roasted beet salad ($13) was simply amazing. Chunks of roasted red beets and slices of blood orange are always a nice combo, but the additional ingredients really elevated the salad. It was served on a bed of baby arugula, with creamy fresh Burrata cheese, rolled slices of paper thin prosciutto, juicy pomegranate seeds and toasted pepitas. The light olive oil and pomegranate glaze dressing tenderized the greens without overwhelming them.
Also on the specials page, the smoked salmon latke ($9) was equally beautiful. A scallion laced potato latke was spread with a layer of horseradish crème fraiche. Elegant pinwheels of thinly sliced smoked salmon created height. A dilly cucumber and daikon slaw burst with flavor and added the necessary crunch. It was delicious.
My husband had a big lunch that day, so he opted for a lighter dinner in the form of the steak salad ($17). Mixed baby greens were tossed with slightly spicy red pepper vinaigrette and piled high on the plate along with grape tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese. The steak was rubbed with coffee and grilled to perfection and then sliced and fanned onto the plate. The salad was topped with breaded and fried cherry pepper slices. He loved it.
I couldn’t decide between several tempting menu items, so I asked our server what her favorite was. Without hesitation, she said, “The filet.” I was equally decisive in ordering it and I wasn’t sorry. The filet ($32) was wonderful on its own, but the accouterments made this dish shine.
It was served over mashed potatoes liberally laced with pieces of thick cut bacon that held up to the potatoes in a fine fashion. The potatoes were topped with slender haricot verts. As soon as the dish was placed in front of me, a tantalizing whiff of truffle wafted up from the topping of micro arugula, frizzled leeks and grated Manchego cheese.
I mopped up every bite in the port wine demi-glaze pooled on the bottom of the plate. It was the kind of meal that you eat slowly enough to know when you are full, but then just keep eating on for flavor because you can’t resist.
Service was exemplary and included nice touches like bringing over a tray of silverware to replace the pieces that had been cleared between courses.
Del Mar may not have been our destination when we headed out that night, but we were very happy it was the place we landed.
Del Mar Bar & Bistro, 907 Main St., Chatham, 508-945-9988, www.DelMarBistro.com.
Hours: Serving dinner starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.