The oldest structure in Cape Girardeau, Port Cape Restaurant is a favorite of mine. When I moved to Cape in the summer of 2014, I was enamoured by the town’s rich history. Port Cape (as if you didn’t already know this) was the temporary headquarters of Ulysses S Grant during the Civil War, and now houses a restaurant, bar, private upstairs venue and ice cream counter.
The menu at Port Cape has a wide variety of offerings, but for the first several times I ate there, I always ordered the Smoked Trout Risotto as my meal. Man, talk about yummy. So I almost dreaded the sit-down talk with Chef James Cain, so certain was I that my beloved Risotto would end up on the Red Light list! I mean, doesn’t yummy = bad-for-you?
Actually, no. No, it does not.
Even though the Risotto is on the appetizer section, it really is enough for a full meal. Creamy rice, white wine, smoked trout, pecans, asparagus, and green onion are the main ingredients. If you’re watching your calories, you could ask for reduced butter, or even have it left out altogether. I ordered it this way and could not tell at ALL, it tasted JUST as good as it always does!
Other healthy apps include the Smoked Salmon Bruschetta, made with a whole grain baguette – I tried this and it was very good – you could even go light on the aioli to reduce calories. There’s also the BBQ Shrimp and the Smoked Chicken Pizza which used naan bread instead of pizza dough. If you like wings, order the Smoked Dry Rub or the Chipotle Honey Barbecue. Both are smoked so are already cooked and can just be thrown on the grill instead of fried upon request.
Healthiest salads are the Gala or Grant’s salad, both are vegan, although you can add chicken, shrimp or salad for more protein, and both use a vinaigrette instead of a creamy salad dressing.
Port Cape is probably best known for their barbeque because, well, it’s amazing. Want to try it? Order the BBQ Chicken Platter with Grilled Asparagus and Water Street Mushrooms and request white meat. I found the chicken to be tender and perfectly cooked, and IS there such thing as grilled asparagus that’s NOT awesome? If there is, I’ve never tried it -and Port Cape’s version is right up there with the best I’ve ever had.
Another good option is the Pork Tenderloin – it’s seasoned with fresh garlic, herbs, salt and pepper, then smoked and grilled and finished with honey mustard barbeque sauce. If you are a rib person, choose the Baby Back over the Original Ribs – they are less fatty.
When ordering one of the Dinners, your best bet is going to be the Marinated Chicken Breast, the Filet Mignon (6-8 oz. before cooking – order sauce on the side) or the Shrimp Platter – request grilled or lightly sauteed instead of fried.
The Sandwich section is a little tricky. Even though the Chicken Salad Croissant sounds healthy, the buttery croissant and the mayo dressing adds a substantial number of calories. A better option is the Chicken Flatbread, light on the cheese.
You might want to stop reading the menu there, because next on the list is the Burgers. As much as I tried, I could not find a selection that met my criteria for “healthy”, but they ALL meet my criteria for “awesome”! The closest thing I can find to a hack is to order the Great River Burger and save half for later…. But I say if you’re going to have a burger, you might as well just order a burger – enjoy it and eat extra well for the other parts of your day!
Most menu selections come with one or two sides. I didn’t know what Belaires were, but I learned it’s basically a twice baked potato casserole…mmmmmm, but maybe Broccoli Salad (broccoli, grapes, red onion and sunflower seeds in a mayo dressing with bacon crumbles) Sweet and Sour Slaw (fresh cabbage and onion in a light vinegar-based sauce), Grilled Asparagus or Water Street Mushrooms is a better fit for your nutrition plan. Occasionally you may request fresh steamed broccoli instead, just ask your server if it’s available. You may also sub a house salad as a side upon request.
Here’s my GREEN LIGHT / RED LIGHT breakdown:
SMOKED CHICKEN PIZZA
SMOKED SALMON BRUSCHETTA
SMOKED TROUT RISOTTO
CHIPOTLE HONEY BARBEQUE (GRILLED)
SMOKED DRY RUB WINGS (GRILLED)
(ADD CHICKEN, SHRIMP OR SALMON)
RED LIGHT :
CHEF SALAD (LEAVE OFF BACON AND CHEESE AND IT’S FINE)
BARBEQUE PLATTER WITH ½ CHICKEN
MARINATED CHICKEN BREAST
SHRIMP PLATTER (GRILLED)
TURKEY CLUB (ASK FOR LIGHT ON THE CHEESE)
CHICKEN SALAD CROISSANT
GREAT RIVER BURGER
ALL THE REST
WATER STREET MUSHROOMS
SWEET AND SOUR SLAW
MAC & CHEESE
HAND CUT FRIES
And as always – Enjoy the food, enjoy the company and tip well!!