Friday, May 19, 2017

Box Lunch Celebrates 40 Years Serving Hungry Cape Codders, 35 Years in PTown

This A-frame style sign lists just a few of the specialty
sandwiches, salads and soups offered by Box Lunch.
It was good to see recently that Box Lunch is open again, tucked away just off Commercial Street, down a wide, sloping, red brick walkway. It's right across from the Provincetown Public Library.
It's worth the effort to find this great little sandwich shop. Julie and her crew are among the friendliest folks in town. They truly do go out of their way to serve their customers in any way they can.
And the food is not only terrific, but it's different from any other sandwich shop or deli in town. Box Lunch is home of the Rollwich, a name that is copyrighted, to perfectly describe the roll-up style sandwiches invented in Wellfleet by a school teacher during summer break, back in 1977.
That's right… This spring Box Lunch is celebrating its 40th anniversary, making unique, delicious, rolled sandwiches that are easy to eat on the go. These have also proven to be some of Cape Cod's all-time favorite sandwiches, winning multiple awards from Cape Cod Life magazine and others.
There are four Box Lunch shops, from Provincetown to Eastham. Sandwiches start at just $5.49, with dozens to choose from, or you can come up with your own combination. Kids have a menu of their own, too, with a choice of six Kidwiches. Gluten free, vegetarian and vegan folks will also find plenty of choices.
Owen MacNutt created his sandwiches by rolling his fillings up tightly in big, round, thin discs of fresh Syrian flatbread. That way you can easily carry them with you, to the beach or on the bike trail, without the sandwich suffering in transit. These are easy to eat while you're working, or walking down the street, or through the forrest, without all the spilling and dripping that can tend to make a conventional sandwich too difficult and messy to eat while you're doing something else. You can eat a Box Lunch Rollwich with one hand, without all the filling falling out.

Julie told me about a customer who comes in every day for the Gilded Lobster,
above: Succulent lobster, melted Swiss, avocado and a bit of mayo. Perfection!
My first sandwich from Box Lunch was more than 25 years ago, at the original Wellfleett location, which is still run by Owen and his wife, Kathryn.
I remember I had a hard time choosing from their huge menu that day, but finally settled on Porky's Nightmare, made with ham, three melted cheeses, tomatoes, onions, mayo and Durkee's mustard vinaigrette. It was so good that I don't remember ever trying anything else in all these years. Turns out it's their number one seller. Except in Provincetown…
Here, the best-selling sandwich at Box Lunch is the Gilded Lobster, pictured above, which Julie got me to try a couple of days ago, on my first visit there this year. It's stuffed with plenty of fresh lobster, mild, melted Swiss cheese, avocado and a little mayo. I'm not normally a fan of Swiss cheese, but this inspired combination was really good!

This excellent version of a hearty tomato soup, made with fresh basil and
crumbled feta cheese, was one of three great soup choices offered on this day.
Another unusual thing about Box Lunch's PTown location is the tremendous number of salads they sell; far more than the Turo, Wellfleet or Eastham branches, and again, a gazillion choices.
I was there on a cold, drizzly day, so to warm up a bit, I had one of three soups offered that day. Clam chowder is always on the menu, with other favorites popping up on a daily basis. Each is made right there, in the tiny kitchen at Box Lunch, from scratch, just like everything else they make. That chilly day, I ordered the tomato/basil/feta soup, which was perfect on that blustery afternoon. Those bright flavors make me want more of this hearty potage as I am writing this.
Provincetown, by the way, was the second Box Lunch location to open, and celebrates its own 35th anniversary in PTown this year. After five years of hard work, with the popularity of MacNutt's Rollwiches steadily growing as more people discovered them, he opened a new Provincetown location in 1982, at the Pilgrim House complex. It later moved to the old Whalers Wharf, then it moved to its current location in 1998, when the Whalers Wharf burned to the ground. Oddly, the Pilgrim House had also gone up in flames in 1990, in a suspicious, four-alarm blaze. Happily, the third incarnation of Provincetown's Box Lunch has been thriving for nearly 20 years in its present spot.
Box Lunch does breakfast, too, for under $5. They open by 8 AM. Right now they stay open until late afternoon, and hours are bound to be extended as the summer season gets into full swing, so you'll be able to get a quick, tasty, inexpensive supper, not to mention a great breakfast or lunch.
The Provincetown location is nestled under the trees in a little courtyard, down that wide, red brick walkway at 353 Commercial Street. Choose the sunlight or shade with relaxed, comfortable outdoor seating at tables or benches, or you can take your food with you. If you're in a hurry, or dashing between jobs, you can call ahead at 508 487-6026 to have your order ready to pick up.
This spot is only a few steps off Commercial Street, but you could walk right by without seeing it. Look for their bright red, A-framed blackboard sign, shown above, to lead you to this unusual, award-winning little PTown eatery, popular for all the right reasons.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Visit Spindler's for Their 1922 Dinner Special Before it Ends

The 1922 dinner special at Spindler's starts with your
choice of soup or salad. This French onion soup was terrific,
topped with a blend of Swiss and Gouda cheeses.
I visited Spindler's the other night and ordered their 1922 special, which runs for about another week, but perhaps not much longer, so put this dinner bargain on your short list of things to do by May 15th. Squeeze it in one night while you still have the chance. Let me explain…
Spindler's has had a few things to celebrate during the last few months. First, the restaurant reached its first anniversary on December 29th. They had opened briefly at that unusual time of year in 2015 to give us a preview of what they'd offer when they would get into full swing, as we got into last summer, and they proved to be a worthy addition to PTown's lineup of great eateries.
The restaurant opened on that particular day because that was the anniversary of the British cargo ship Annie L. Spindler, running aground on Provincetown's shoreline in 1922, in the height of America's prohibition era, carrying about 600 cases of Canadian whiskey. Not much of the contraband was "recovered" or turned over to officials by scavengers along the beach that day, though there were many of them.
It seems, though, that a few hundred bottles were recovered by the authorities, and were then locked in a storage shed while the Coast Guard, Customs and the courts decided what to do with the liquor. When the decision was eventually made and officials finally opened the shed to carry out their duty,  they found that most of the whiskey had mysteriously disappeared. Although a house-to-house search was conducted, not a single bottle was found. Meanwhile, a particularly cheerful attitude seemed to have overtaken the town, and that good cheer lasted far beyond the time when officials gave up looking for the missing whiskey.
Spindler's, of course, was named for this ship, and the exuberance it brought to town, in a wreck that was fairly amusing rather than completely tragic. Read a bit more about the wreck of this ship, dubbed "the Rum Runner" by Provincetown folks in that day, for its numerous trips along the seaboard, carrying one sort of liquor or another. Read more in my December post celebrating Spindler's first anniversary. There you'll also find my review of the charcuterie offered at Spindler's. It's still the best I've found anywhere in Provincetown.
Seared scallops over wild mushroom risotto was the entrée on this
evening's 1922 special at Spindler"s, at the Waterford Inn.
Spindler's has also been celebrating their new status as a year-round restaurant, gaining approval from Town boards over the winter.
So, to celebrate their first anniversary, along with their new year-round license, and the anniversary of the Annie L. Spindler "arriving" on the back shore in 1922, Spindler's has been offering their 1922 special, which is different every day.
This is a three-course meal that starts with your choice of a salad or the featured soup, followed by a daily entrée chosen by the chef, inspired by the freshest and finest local ingredients to be found on any given day. A choice of desserts will follow, with the entire meal costing you just $19.22.
To startt my meal there last week I chose the soup, which was a lovely French onion on that particular night, with croutons made in-house, with a blend of Swiss and Gouda cheeses melted over the top. The light broth was quite tasty, and seasoned to bring out the sweetness of the onions.
The entrée served this night featured seared scallops served on a creamy mound of wild mushroom risotto, and topped with sautéed ramps; the cousins of green onions, available in the early spring. The dish was accented with roasted tomatoes. This was a satisfying plate that I would surely order again, given the chance.

I chose the very tasty strawberry/rhubarb tart for my dessert.
Desserts offered included various gelatos made in-house, and, of course, a decadent chocolate choice, which might normally have been what I would select, but when  I heard the waiter mention  the strawberry/rhubarb tart, I was a goner.

The crust was made with a short pastry, dense and crispy at the same time, without being heavy, and filled with a blend of rhubarb and strawberries that was just tart enough, and not overly sweet. It paired nicely with a scoop of smooth, vanilla bean gelato. A garnish of fresh strawberry and mint, with a doodle of strawberry coulis, finished the plate.
The 1922 special is different every day, always made from fresh, local ingredients, as the chef finds them. It's available from 5 till 6:30 PM Wednesday through Friday, and from 3 till 6:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday, but this special will be ending very shortly, so take advantage of this great offer while you can. Right now, Spindler's is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but that will change as they gear up to open daily all summer.
The menu will change a bit as seasonal ingredients become available. Also new on the property this summer will be a different sort of meal offered at the tiny building next to the first floor bar, where casual food will be available to eat there or to take out, and I'll be checking that spot out once the season gets rolling. Currently Spindler's winter brunch menu is available only on Sundays, but watch for that to change for the season, too, with daily Fun Brunches planned, to be added once the season is in full swing.
Every dish I've tasted here has been a winner, right down to the terrific bread served with your meal, accompanied by fresh butter from Vermont and honey from New England beekeepers, including hives in Truro and Wellfleet. The other night the chef served a delightful wildflower honey from New Hampshire.
Little details make Spindler's a delightful spot for a good meal, and they have guest rooms available as well, in an old sea captain's home that dates back to the mid 1800s. The Waterford Inn features that same attention to detail, with contemporary decor and amenities in a lovely, historic home. It's tucked away just off Commercial Street, right behind the restaurant, at 386 Commercial.
For information on the Waterford Inn, or Spindler's restaurant, dial 508 487- 6400, or visit the website at

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

It's Not Spring in PTown Until My First Visit to The Coffee Pot

Linda and Nelson have been welcoming folks to The Coffee Pot, and to
Provincetown, for more than 24 years. They're genuinely glad to see you!
For 24 years or so, Linda and Nelson have been opening the doors of The Coffee Pot at 5:00 in the morning (in the height of the season) and doing it with smiling faces. Every day of the season they get out of bed in the pre-dawn hours and make their way to the most popular coffee shop in the heart of Provincetown, at Lopes Square, by the giant anchor.
Within a few moments they're sliding  trays of bagels, muffins, croissants and cinnamon buns into the ovens, and putting on the coffee, and soon the aroma of fresh baked goods is wafting out the door as local fishermen, carpenters, cops, and anyone else who's up at that time of day stop in to get their morning started. Nothing beats a really good cup of coffee and fresh baked goods, right out of the oven.
My first order of the season was their giant breakfast sandwich called the Rescue Squad, which I had been jonesing for all winter. It's made with three eggs, three strips of bacon, two sausage patties and two slices of cheese on a freshly baked sub roll that's been split open and toasted on the grill. It's an entire meal that you can take with you.
The patio at The Coffee Pot is a great place for a little fresh air with
your meal, and a little people watching at the edge of Lopes Square.
If you want a sit-down breakfast in the dining room or out on their patio, The Coffee Pot can also accommodate you. Get a plate of eggs and toast for just $5.99, or  add bacon, sausage or linguica (say leen•gwee•suh,) the slightly spicy, extremely tasty Portuguese sausage. The also make omelets, brioche French toast and other great breakfast plates, and the menu for lunch and supper is sizable and tempting as well. For example, they make some of the best French fries in PTown, perfect with a burger, burrito, Gyro, panini or their huge lobster roll, served hot or cold. (Try the lobster omelet, too.)
If for some unknown reason you've never visited The Coffee Pot, it's time to give them a whirl. Generous portions and reasonable prices, and those smiling faces behind the counter, make this one of the town's favorite eateries.