One of my favorite places to eat around the Cape is Baxter’s in Hyannis, a wonderful cooked-to-order seafood restaurant sitting literally right on Hyannis Harbor with a great view of the Harbor and the boats constantly floating past.
The place has a pretty cool history too. The current location was purchased originally by a local sea captain named Benjamin D. Baxter, who intended to use it as a place to offload and pack fish from local fishing vessels. Benjamin’s son, Warren Baxter, started a fish market which later became today’s Baxter’s Boathouse Club. In the 1950’s Warren’s wife installed a fryolater in a shed next to the market and she started making her own coleslaw and fries, selling these with her husband’s fresh fish at a restaurant she opened in 1957, called Baxter’s Fish & Chips. In 1967 Warren had the idea of turning the Fish Market into a Bar and Restaurant, and thus opened Baxter’s Boathouse Club in 1967. The two, Boathouse Club and Fish & Chips were eventually integrated into one restaurant with two slightly different parts, with the former being more of a bar and event venue while the latter is more of a simple, harborside restaurant.
I went there for lunch last summer and got a beautiful assortment of the house specialties at Baxter’s Fish & Chips: New England Clam Chowder, Fried Oysters, and Boathouse Fish n Chips with delicious crispy French Fries and House-Made Coleslaw. The Clam Chowder was flawless, with a generous portion of big bits of clam, potato and celery – very flavorful and thick indeed. The Fried Oysters were also wonderful. Juicy, plump oysters that burst forth a briny, low-tide jus when bitten into, covered in a thin batter and fried to perfection. Seasoned very well too, not too salty and very little excess oil. The fried haddock was fantastic as well. Beautifully fresh white flesh, firm but falling apart at the flakes after just one bite. The fried coating was thin, crispy and a beautiful color. Adding a tiny bit of malt vinegar (on the side) brought out the natural sweetness of the fish within and got rid of any excess oiliness (of which there was very little anyway). The fries were crisp and firm, the coleslaw wonderfully fresh, crunchy and very well seasoned with plenty of fennel seed and not too much mayonnaise.
A wonderful place to relax with a nice glass of wine and some fresh fish, and enjoy a beautiful day on Hyannis Harbor.