Saturday, May 18, 2013

What's New? - The Canteen Opens to Great Acclaim, Already a Best Bite

Tom, Tyler, James, Rob and Loic welcome you to The Canteen,
at 225 Commercial Street, serving perfect summer food in a beachy atmosphere.
I stopped in at 225 Commercial Street yesterday to wish good luck to the folks at The Canteen on their opening day, and to taste a bit of their menu, but I wasn't prepared for all of the delightful surprises I found there. Their evolving menu is thoughtful, innovative, fairly priced, and everything I tasted was extraordinary, all made from scratch. This little shack is destined to become one of the great eateries of Provincetown. And this is the first time a new restaurant has earned a Best Bite award (two of them, actually) from TheYearRounder on their opening day. If I'd had enough room to taste more of their food, I have a feeling they might have gotten a couple of more Best Bites as well.
TheYearRounder names a Best Bite whenever an outstanding taste or value (and often both) surface in a PTown restaurant, deli, bar, gelato shop or wherever it might be. Type Best Bite into the search bar above, or click on Best Bite in the "Key Words" section in the column to the right to find more of such award-winners.
The Canteen's Best Bite awards are for the very best in food and drink that I found all week long in Provincetown: Pucci Wings, which the entire town has been jonesing for ever since Pucci's Harborside Restaurant closed many years ago, and The Canteen's rhubarb soda, made from scratch by chef Rob Anderson. Rob was a journalist and food writer for the Boston Globe when he and partner Loic Rossignon bought the building a couple of years ago, and Rob decided to shift careers, giving up journalism for culinary school. He seems to have been born for this job, bringing a genuine delight in fresh flavors and ingredients to this new kitchen. For example, he makes a syrup from fresh rhubarb to create the restaurant's own soda, with the most unusual, refreshing and delightful flavor, hence the Best Bite nod.
Veteran chef Tom Pucci is also in the kitchen, and his legendary chicken wings are a great addition to this menu of summer foods, with a texture and flavor unmatched by any who have tried to duplicate them. He's also brought back the Hollywood sandwich, a Pucci's favorite, and we eagerly look forward to seeing more of Tom's influence as this collaborative menu created by talented chefs expands with the summer season.
The menu centers around favorite beach shack foods like clam chowder and seafood made with classic techniques, but perfected with a few little tweaks to traditional recipes. Their chowder, for example, isn't made with the usual quahogs, but instead uses fresh littlenecks, leeks and herbs from their own garden. The chives in my chowder were snipped fresh that morning. Everything is made from scratch, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farms just a few miles from here.
Some menu items spring from traditional foods that are still unknown in much of the world. Bánh Mì sandwiches herald from Vietnam and are usually made with pickled daikon, cucumber, jalapeño and fresh cilantro, and traditionally are filled with ham and a bit of liver pâté, but instead The Canteen uses fresh cod. That's just one thing I want to taste the next time I'm there, which will likely be tomorrow. 
New PTown resident Corey loves The Canteen's
kale and linguica sandwich, as you can see.

Others would be the Mexican grilled corn, and surely the kale and linguica sandwich, rated "two thumbs up" by Corey, in PTown for his first season and pictured here on a break from his job at Kiss and Makeup, at 357 Commercial Street. "I give it both thumbs up," Corey said, "because it's so good. They make the linguica right here." He'll likely be a frequent  customer for lunch, and for dinner as well when the restaurant's hours expand after Memorial Day. They also plan to do late nights during the height of the season, breakfast will start soon as well, and the blackboard lists a number of dishes we can look forward to as the menu grows with the season.
They will likely do a good bit of takeout business, with the food rolling out of the kitchen pretty quickly.  And even though you'll order your food at the counter, and service is quite swift, this is in no way your typical fast food restaurant. There are real chefs in the kitchen turning out some remarkable food. New also is a beer and wine license and indoor as well as outdoor seating, for those who want to take their time with a good meal.
I can't wait to return for vegan and vegetarian choices, a lobster roll served hot or cold, and the BBQ pulled pork sandwich, thanks to their own smoker. I want more of their lemon rosemary ice for dessert, too.  I'll let you know what I taste on my next visit there.
Rob emphasizes that this has been a real team effort, with this entire small staff performing Herculean tasks to make their opening day such a roaring success, and we happily welcome a great new restaurant to Provincetown.

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