If you can’t go to France this summer, then just go to the Cape and step inside PB Boulangerie and Bistro.
When I heard last year in March that a French bakery was opening on the Cape, I rolled my eyes and thought “been there, done that”. Yes, it’s that hard to find a good bakery in the U.S. Now, there is a difference between a bakery vs. a French bakery. I’ve found over the years excellent regular bakeries that sold more than tasty baked goods and breads but finding a decent authentic French bakery is hard. Boston does not even have one – it just has bakeries. And yet, yesterday I stepped into my new favorite place within a 100 mile (160 km) radius. A bit far for a croissant fix but so worth it! So leave your passports at home and head to the Cape for a French experience.
Luckily for me, I did not have to wait in line to place my order. I guess the summer season has not officially started yet. But I’ve heard reports of long lines going out the door, around the building and down the street. This place should actually be kept a secret. If you’re staying on the Cape this summer, just get up early in the morning, tell your friends you’re going for a “walk” and come back with boxes and bags of fresh treats for breakfast. If they ask, tell them anything from a French fairy dropped breakfast on your doorstep to FedEx just delivered a package from caring friends in France who pitied your sad dry scones and white bread toast breakfast. Just remember to remove the sticker tag on the box. The reason for keeping it a secret is to avoid hours of waiting in line.
There’s something in the air inside PB Boulangerie. I am not sure if it is the finely grated lemon zest and the heavy double cream from the tarte au citron, or perhaps the fresh yeast and hints of vanilla from the freshly baked brioches. No, it’s definitely chilled butter being rubbed with flour to make a sweet pastry crust. It just smells like a French bakery. Hold on… actually, it smells like cut off bits and pieces of excess pastry dough laying around the fluted tart tins while the crème pâtissière is being spooned on the pastry shell. That’s it!
“3 croissants, 2 pains au chocolat and 3 pains aux raisins, please! Yes, we’re hungry!” The bakeries are what I was expecting: authentic, flakey, buttery, dough luscious, delicate and still warm. Fresh out of the oven. When was the last time you had a warm croissant in the U.S.? The variety of breads made me salivate. Olive bread, bâtard, fig bread, pain de mie – it seems they have it all. They even adapted to the local Cape flavors with a cranberry bread. Brilliant! The baguette I bought had a good crunchy crust and just the right amount of chewiness. It’s a small place and there are too many good things to look at with too little time – people are waiting behind! I saw croque-monsieurs that looked gooey cheese delicious. I glanced at the salade niçoise in small containers. They have bœuf bourguignon sandwiches too. And the Norman tarte aux pommes seemed heavy and rich with delight.
Ambiance, charm, smells and taste of France – thank you Philippe and Boris for bringing this to the States. It almost sounded like France too, but not quite yet (Frenchie and the European Noises). It’s only a matter of time. As I left with my flan and tarte au chocolat – yes, there was a second visit right before driving back to Boston – I was already making plans in my head to schedule another French pilgrimage very soon to hopefully sit down and try the PB Bistro attached to the Boulangerie. The menu looks exquisite. And who wouldn’t want to spend more time on the Cape, lounging in the quaint Wellfleet, MA scenery? A must do this summer!