Cozy surroundings. Friendly service. And the food is great, too.
Dan'l Webster Inn Tavern
149 Main Street, Sandwich, MA ~ 508-888-3623
Food - 10
Service - 8
Setting - 9
Value - 9
The Dan'l Webster Inn is located in the heart of historic downtown Sandwich. As you approach this 300-year-old inn you will encounter a peaceful setting filled with colorful flowers and an old buggy out front. The bold red color of the main building sets it apart from most of the other historic structures you will find on the Cape. It has 53 rooms and suites that "reflect the essence of Colonial charm and casual elegance". Along with the well-appointed accommodations, the inn features four dining rooms that consistently are rated very high in local publications and on the national level as well. It is rated in the top 1% of restaurants by the Distinguished Restaurant of North America (DiRoNA).
A step into the lobby brings you into a visual melding of the old and the new. Antique decor and dark wood around the reception area are mixed with signs of the 21st century such as computers and people on cell phones. But the casual charm and quiet immediately relaxes you.
Past the lobby is a short ramp that leads to the restaurants, so we ventured down to what appeared to be a host/hostess podium. We unknowingly arrived before the lunch hour began. A man wearing an inn name badge was on the phone behind the podium and he never acknowledged us in any way, even between two separate phone calls. We did not see any signs indicating restaurant hours, but because it was 11:15 AM, we figured they must open at 11:30. After about a 10 minute wait, a waitress passing through the area spoke to us and told us it would be another few minutes before they would be ready to seat us.
At just a minute or two past 11:30 we were offered our choice of the music room or the more casual tavern for our lunch. After inquiring about the menus - the same for each - we chose the tavern. The dark wood, comfortable booths and quiet room featuring a large fireplace proved to be the perfect setting for us to relax and dine. Again we waited longer than we thought was reasonable for our waitress to appear - almost 10 minutes. Once our server arrived the service was very good and friendly and helpful.
The lunch menu at the Dan'l Webster Inn offered a wide variety of dining options, from soups and chowders to salads, burgers and the inn's famous chicken pot pie.. The chef's special soup creation that day was a smoked seafood bisque that was out of this world. When we inquired about the bisque we were gladly offered a sample before ordering. The smooth, creamy soup hinted of smoky cheddar with a delicious seafood taste. We only ordered a cup as the bisque had such a rich taste that we knew it would be quite filling (it was!). The bisque was served with the traditional oyster crackers and a basket of rolls and butter.
Our main dishes came nicely spaced after our bisque. We ordered the classic inn specialty chicken pot pie and the beef teriyaki salad, both of which arrived perfectly prepared. The pot pie came in a good-sized ramekin and our server spooned the delicate puff pastry onto a plate and topped it with the chicken and vegetables in a rich gravy. As she presented the pie, the hearty chicken aroma wafted over us, and we both let out a spontaneous "mmmmmm". The pot pie required a few minutes to cool, but with each bite the wait was obvious worth it. The large chunks of all-white chicken meat were tender and moist. And the carrots, onions and peas were cooked to just the right consistency.
The beef teriyaki salad was just as excellent as the pot pie, with the steak cooked medium rare, exactly as ordered. The entire presentation was an attractive mix of baby greens, cucumber, tomato, water chestnuts and baby corn. The soy and toasted sesame dressing was a light and complimentary finishing touch to a delightful salad. Another basket of home-baked bread accompanied our entrees and went wonderfully with the salad.
It was obvious from our food that the chef takes great pride in serving attractive and delicious dishes. Our meals were perfectly seasoned and the portions were certainly generous. Our total bill, including 1 soft drink, 1 bisque and 2 entrees (before tax and tip) was $29.45, which we felt was very reasonable for the Cape and for the high quality of the meal.
Here is what the Dan'l Webster Inn tells us about taverns and their importance in revolutionary times -
"A Tavern of revolutionary times was an important part of its community. The publican or innkeeper served as gossip, newsmonger, banker, pawnbroker, expediter of men or effects, and general host to all.
In the early days the intimate association existing between landlord and public brought about a still closer one between the tavern guild itself, establishing a network of communication coextensive with all the great routes from Maine to Georgia. This network became the most important tie lines the colonies had during the revolution."