While Outer Cape Cod in Massachusetts claims its share of French-style dining, one village, Wellfleet, is the first to boast the real deal. This spring, the PB Bistro opened its doors to a sigh of relief from visitors and residents alike. Many have traveled to France and therefore appreciate those warm breakfast croissants and pains au chocolat, lunch options like croques Monsieur, fresh baguettes with ham and cheese, or puff pastry appetizers to enjoy with apéritifs on those lazy hazy summer afternoons. Yes, it’s all here thanks to Philippe and Boris, a chef duo who cut their teeth in Paris then made their first foray in the U.S. at the Wynn resort in Las Vegas. A high-end reputation quickly ensued.
While Philippe hails from Lyon, and Boris is a native of Paris, Philippe’s wife—who also contributes to the business—is originally from Wellfleet. After some discussion about futures and where to best settle for the longer term, the team figured they could have as much success at this seaside enclave. If recent business is an indicator, they can rest assured that, were they to pull up stakes now, nothing short of a French Revolution-style uprising would occur!
Open 7 until 7, Tuesday through Sunday, the former clam shack is conveniently located on Route 6, the main drag to Wellfleet and beyond to the other popular vacation towns of Truro and Provincetown. The building, recently painted a magenta pink with ivory trim, cannot be missed from the road. Exterior teak tables invite you to take a break with your fresh espresso coffee and pastry and, still under construction, an interior wing is targeted as a champagne bar-cum-bistro for eventual lunch and dinner options. No expense was spared in the overall design of olive colors with steel accents. In addition, local woodworked beams, slate countertops, artwork by area painters, and even champagne corks chiseled into the marbled bar (corks collected by Philippe over the years and saved for that special place of his dreams) awaken diners to Paris of long ago and a sort of ‘new age’ Paris of recent years. Leather booths and chic tables for two and four fill the compact dining space, and one can envision it full of diners and revelers come later this summer, when a full menu will be offered. Even the rest rooms carry a theme, with white Métro tiling against solid maroons and Provençal blue painted walls.
The bakery alone is worth the wait in line (yes, the line is out the door at the predicted times of the day). Bursting with that butter-sugar-cream smell like any Paris boulangerie, the display alone proves eye-candy for the sugar depraved. Bien sûr, croissants, brioches, pains au raisin and au chocolat poise front and center. Wall racks are loaded with daily fresh breads that include baguettes, both regular and hearty, plus country loaves with options like olive, cheese, and rosemary. Desserts abound—the religieuses, babas au rhum, flans of all berry types, tarts, meringues, liquored cakes, and mousses au chocolat. Even macaroons! I’m told the selection sells out daily and believe it, having shown up just before closing one day (figuring I’d get something marked down) to note that indeed, few items remained.
The genuine promise of this place became even more solidified when I asked Philippe about the exact opening date of the bistro. His passionate response, to me, equated to having hit pay dirt.
“Well, Kathy,” he said, “we thought of opening by Memorial Day, but when I purchased store strawberries and other fruits, I was dismayed! They were awful! So, we will wait until the garden ripe ones become available, and not before!”
Kathleen Comstock is a writer and lover of France, who lives in Massachusetts and Paris. She recently published a collection of shorts called Vieilles Filles and Other Stories from France.
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