CAPE PORPOISE — We had a 20-minute wait to sit down in a bar called the Ramp, literally down a ramp from the pavement at this scenic point of land. But I was more than content.

For one, we’d been intending to review a place up the road, had called to confirm it was open on Sunday night, and had arrived to find it closed at 5:30 p.m.

There was no one there to keep it open, I guess — perhaps because they had all driven over to the Ramp.

I had the best lobster roll of my life at the Ramp last summer, so I was pretty sure the rest of the menu was top-notch.

“Mighty battle forces take French beachhead as the battle begins,” blazed the framed headline hung above us on a rafter. On the RFK Stadium scoreboard, there were two minutes left in the quarter. In the bathroom, a poster for a concert by Ella Fitzgerald made me sigh. At no moment was I at a loss for something to read. The walls, the ceiling, the doors all sport sports stuff, and cabinets hold signed baseballs and mitts.

Owner and chef Pete Morency has been adding to this haul for most of his life.

With his wife, Kate Morency, who is the dining room manager, the building formerly called Seascapes Restaurant has been a focus of social life and great eating since 2003, and I envy the locals’ luck having this place within a quick drive.

The Ramp has a small seating area outside, and in the summer, a drink under the bright-yellow umbrellas at the edge of the pier can’t be beat. Even now, folks linger outside, wrapped up in their coats trying to prolong the summer with a glass of wine clutched in their hands.

Children and families keep the room busy early — and although one distraught father tried to apologize to me and the bar generally for his upset kid, it hardly seemed to disrupt the noisy, happy atmosphere.

Even on an apparently short-staffed night, the woman in charge of the bar and tending to about 25 of us didn’t let a speck of stress bubble up from her brisk, relentless activity.

Big pours of wine might be one reason. The Yangarra Shiraz ($8.50), a fruity, meaty red, and Nieto Senetiner Malbec Reserva ($8) could warm up and soothe just about anyone.

Fried clams are on the bar menu with slaw and fries, ($18) and as an appetizer on the longer menu served with house remoulade, a well-made thin mayonnaise. The crunchy clams were light gold and still tender, but small and lacking the big bellies that hold lots of juice.

We gobbled them up happily.

The crab cakes ($14) with a rocket and shaved fennel salad were flecked with chopped red pepper, something I have never quite cottoned to, preferring crab cakes unadulterated by just about anything.

However, these were chock-full of crab, and the meat’s sweet, delicate flavor predominated, while the fresh arugula and crunchy fennel made refreshing bites in between.

Wild cod ($24) with pesto gnocchi and pea tendrils was perfect in almost every way — the fish translucent and shimmering, flaking into its signature fat slices of moist, mild white fish. Tender but creamy gnocchi robed in aromatic pesto sauce went alongside with perfect felicity. But the chalky flavor of the pea tendrils wasn’t my cup of tea, although they certainly looked pretty.

Chicken with dumplings ($19) was another pleaser, and although fresh thyme was running rampant in the sauce, the chicken was tender and good. Creamy gravy, toothsome dumplings, carrots and snap peas made it another fall menu prize.

That lobster roll last summer achieved immortality (at least, as long as my memory holds) by combining slightly warm, tender and delicate chunks of lobster, tail and claw, with creamy mayo inside a buttered, hot toasted bun.

The “pulled pig” sandwich ($9) hails from North Carolina. Spaghetti and meatballs, chicken taquitos ($10), an 8-ounce burger ($10) and penne Bolognese ($18) make a meal here thoroughly appealing on a cool fall night.

Dessert is highly recommended.

Apple tarte tatin ($8) might cost almost as much as the pork sandwich, but it is heaven, with buttery, tender pastry, warm caramelized apples and vanilla bean gelato as smooth as silk.

The blueberry tart ($8) in a cylindrical pastry cup was dark brown and crunchy, but held blueberries that had lost some moisture and couldn’t impress with their juicy marvelous taste.

Strong coffee in a footed glass cup reinvigorated our satiated senses before the drive north on winding Route 9.


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,