CAPE PORPOISE – Weekends are bustling in Cape Porpoise, with its small village of eateries and shops, and The Captain’s has stood among them for 58 years doing its share to appease summer appetites. For 30 years, the Persson family has owned and run the restaurant, opening up every spring and keeping the place clean and bright through the busy summer.

This is a modest little restaurant with no pretensions, and the meals it serves are, for the most part, plain and simple. Owner Ruth Persson’s pies are a reliable attraction.

Sometimes plain and simple is exactly what is needed and wanted, especially among families, and The Captain’s does a good job of pleasing parents hoping for a straightforward meal they can enjoy as much as their youngest kid likes his grilled cheese.

“As far as food is concerned, we’re more of a comfort-style restaurant,” said Persson, a family nurse practitioner at Biddeford Middle School during the school year. Once The Captain’s opens for the season, she is also “manager-chief-cook-and-bottle-washer.”

The low, white wooden booths seem as old as the restaurant itself, and the turquoise seat cushions are a more recent addition. Paneling of knotty pine is light in color, and windows in the two dining rooms give the space an airy, country atmosphere. One of the big picture windows on the street is made of wavy glass, perhaps as old as the building itself.

A bottle of Pellegrino sparkling mineral water ($3.50) can be ordered to drink, but if you would like to enjoy wine or beer you will have to supply it yourself, perhaps buying whatever appeals to you at the grocery store nearby. Glasses and corkscrews are available to enjoy the drinks you bring with you.

An appetizer of fried clams and scallops ($12.95) gives a taste of those Maine summer specialties. Better by far are the scallops, which arrived juicy and tender inside their crunchy golden coating.

The clams were OK, but suffered from the high heat of the fryer because they were so small, and any belly juices inside had cooked away. Creamy tartar sauce went a little way toward replacing the missing moisture.

But while some people might prefer smaller clams, more typical of Maine clam flats, the taste of the sea inside bigger clams is what makes fried clams worth eating.

Hot, soft oatmeal rolls quickly absorb the butter that you spread on them. Their slightly sweet flavor and softness have made them a favorite of generations of customers.

A sweet, thin vinaigrette is the house dressing for a salad of romaine and cherry tomatoes ($4.95). The coleslaw that accompanies some of the entrees is made with that same sweet vinaigrette and finely chopped cabbage.

Baked haddock is topped with cracker crumbs mixed with butter and sherry, but I pushed aside the salty yet bland topping and enjoyed the nicely cooked plain fish with more of the tartar sauce. House fries are crunchy and hot.

Lobster salad ($26.95) required an introduction, the server said, because The Captain’s does it a little differently from other places. The generous serving of plain cooked lobster meat is set on a leaf of romaine, and a small cup of mayonnaise is served on the side. The presentation is austere and the flavors as basic as they get, but for a certain kind of appetite, the simple meal is excellent.

“That’s been the tradition of the Captain’s. That’s how we’ve been serving it for 30 years,” Persson said. Salad dressing or drawn butter can also be requested.

Boiled lobster ($23.95) is, of course, the standard option, accompanied by a vegetable, choice of potato and garden salad. Persson said she buys local produce when she can get it and has high hopes for her own garden, which was a bust with last year’s rain.

Baked stuffed lobster ($26.95) is stuffed with lobster, scallops and shrimp served over the cracker-crumb stuffing.

Baked salmon ($18.95) comes with cucumber dill sauce, and grilled tuna steak (19.95) comes with garlic butter, but supplies of both were depleted by 8 p.m. on a recent Sunday. Baked scallops ($18.95) and grilled swordfish steak ($19.95) were still available, and if you wanted something light, a hamburger, cheeseburger or hot dog were as well.

The lobster roll is $15.95 and filled with lobster meat picked fresh daily, a rarity on the coast these days.

Chocolate cake and ice cream are on the dessert menu, but lemon meringue pie ($4.95) won out, with beads of caramel forming on the surface of the tender, browned meringue and a loose, tart and smooth lemon filling. Freshly brewed and slightly bitter decaffeinated coffee cut through the sweetness.

Persson is getting lots of rhubarb from colleagues at work right now, keeping strawberry and rhubarb pie on the menu.

You can look forward to fresh-picked local apples for fall pies — but of course, it’s far too early to even imagine fall. 

N.L. English is a Portland freelance writer and the author of “Chow Maine: The Best Restaurants, Cafes, Lobster Shacks and Markets on the Coast.” Visit English’s Web site,

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