[Barnstable, MA] Mattakeese Wharf

The success of our dinner here was due, in large part, to the restaurant’s location. It’s right on the waterfront with fabulous views of the sunset. You can put up with some slips in the cooking when you have compensation like that.

It’s fair to say starters were a bit of a disappointment. Two quahog clams were stuffed with chorizo, breadcrumbs, onion and red pepper – but, oddly, it was all very bland and boring. Clams Casino brought half a dozen local clams topped with a bacon, herb, butter and breadcrumb mix. Flavour was fine but the clams themselves were a bit chewy and gritty.

Main courses were much, much better. Haddock was treated simply and with respect, being topped with just breadcrumbs, flavoured with lemon. It came with green beans and roast potatoes. A bugbear of mine is the pretentious way restaurants sometimes use foreign words for which there’s perfectly good English. So, this place chooses not to describe the vegetable coming with the haddock as “green beans” but “hericot vert”. If you really must do this, then please get the spelling right on both occasions your menu lists it. It’s “haricot”, not “hericot”.

Swordfish was as good as the haddock – simply grilled with no other cheffing about. That came with lemon quinoa and a blackbean, corn and tomato salsa. For me, the two accompaniments were a bit samey in texture – both to be scooped up on your fork, but flavour was fine (although it wouldn’t have hurt to put some chilli in the salsa).

We shared a key lime pie for dessert. Disappointingly, it overly sweet


I thought haricots verts (plural) or French green beans are slightly different than standard green beans. A bit skinnier and longer?

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Hadnt appreciated that there might be different names in American English. In British English, we have “green beans” and “fine/thin green beans”.

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In our farmer’s market, haricot vert, or French green beans is about half as long as half as thick as typical green beans.

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Once again, American and British English are different languages. In the US, haricot verts are usually much thinner and shorter, as others have noted (hericot verts is a blatant mispelling, as you know). I’ve known for a while that what the Brits call “broad beans” are what Americans call “favas”, or at least I think that (please, correct me if I’m wrong). You do not eat the pod but rather shell them, same procedure for using what Americans call “English peas”, which are also shelled in the US. Today I was totally stumped by reading a Ottolenghi recipe in the Guardian that called for something called “mangetout.” I googled and it seems to be what Americans call “snow peas”…immature pea pods you “eat all of”, or “mangetout”. There is a slightly more mature pea pod called “sugar snap peas” in America that you also eat all of, the peas inside are bigger than in “snow peas.”

I remember a very long thread on Chowhound which detailed the many food related differences between British, American and, to a lesser degree, Australian English. You’re right, Madrid, on all your calls here. We also have sugar snap peas, as well as the mangetout.

By the by, my partner worked as part of a Europe-wide procurement team for an oil company. The various managers used to hold meetings in its various regional centres, including Copenhagen. On the table was a bowl of peas, still in the pods, intended as a snack. The Skandis were surprised/amused when she started to pod a couple, as their custom is to eat the pod as well.