Dock & Dine: The Chart Room, Cataumet, MA
June 13, 2019
A boating fan favorite for over 40 years, this Buzzards Bay mainstay is a heavenly spot for a hearty meal or sunset cocktail.
Text & Photography by Tom Richardson
It all began with a barge.
When Kingman Marina (now Kingman Yacht Center) expanded its operations on Cape Cod’s Red Brook Harbor the late 1960s, it placed three scuttled barges along the shoreline to extend the property. One served as a machine shop, but as the marina’s popularity grew, customers began requesting some type of on-site sustenance.
“So the owners set up a big steamer pot at the end of the barge and began offering lobsters, clams, hot dogs—small stuff. That was the beginning of the Chart Room,” explains Dave Jarvis, who, along with business partner Tom Gordon, owns what is one of the most popular dock-and-dine restaurants on Cape Cod.
Now in it 44th season, the Chart Room bustles with customers who come for the good food, lively bar scene and spectacular sunsets. Jarvis, whose father bought the restaurant in 1972 and whose mother used to sing there, has maintained its cozy, nautical ambience with a focus on fresh, high-quality food. “We use only fresh lobster meat in every dish, including the baked stuffed lobster,” he says, referring to one of the restaurant’s more popular dishes.
Another favorite is the broiled swordfish, which is caught locally through much of the summer. “We probably go through 150 pounds of swordfish a day,” Jarvis says. “All of it is hand-cut right here in the kitchen. Our chefs spend a lot of time prepping for the dinner rush.”
Other crowd-pleasers include the clams casino, clam chowder, steamer clams and the lobster salad sandwich on Portuguese bread.
The Chart Room also has a large bar staffed by three bartenders, who have their hands full most nights. “We’re well known for our mudslides,” says Jarvis. “Our blender is running flat-out from 3:30 p.m. on Friday to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday!” Customers can enjoy those mudslides and other drinks in the bar, whose dark beams resemble the interior of a wooden ship, or on the large patio overlooking the Kingman docks.
Boaters who wish to visit the Chart Room can hail Kingman Yacht Center on VHF channel 79. Dockage is sometimes available along the facing dock, but if not, the marina staff can put you on a mooring and get you to shore via the launch.
The Chart Room opens the weekend after Mother’s Day in May and closes after Columbus Day. Dinner reservations are a must, especially on summer weekends. Of course, you stand a better chance of getting a last-minute table on a weekday or during the shoulder seasons.