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Dining in Wellfleet and Provincetown

Just a few weeks before our second baby is due to arrive, James and I managed to squeeze in a one night getaway to Provincetown, complete with two uninterrupted meals and one uninterrupted nights sleep. We will look back on that 24 hour period fondly over the next few months, not only because of the peace and quiet we enjoyed, but because the restaurants in which we dined were exceptional – and good food, to us, is often the highlight of our fondest memories.

On the drive up to Provincetown, we stopped in Wellfleet, a small artist’s town, which, despite its diminutive size, is packed with galleries, boutiques, and great restaurants, most of which specialize in local fare. We had heard positive reviews about a place called the Bookstore and Restaurant and decided to give it a try. Though completely different from our expectations (we had envisioned a less modern, more cutesy Barnes and Nobel type operation), the Bookstore Restaurant was a fantastic kick off to our 24 hour escape. Overlooking the harbor, the eatery is a casual, family owned throwback in time. We dined on the glassed in porch just beside the makeshift oyster shucking bar where the young men casually shucked as if they had been doing so since they could walk (which just may have been true!). The menu is extensive with everything from salads to fried fare to sandwiches and burgers and plenty of Wellfleet oysters, of course. I enjoyed one of my all time favorites – a lobster roll, which, for $14.95 was packed with more lobster meat than some competitors’ $20 rival rolls. James ordered an oyster stew – a simple chowder base chock full of the local specialty, bursting with flavor and just the right consistency. After our meal, we sauntered over to the bookstore – talk about a throwback in time! The store was bursting at the seams with an eclectic collection of reading material and the woman who pleasantly greeted us warned us that if the dust was too much – “run for the door!” Book lovers could probably spend hours exploring the haphazard collections packed onto the shelves, but we cut our visit short and hit the road to our final destination – Provincetown – where we spent a leisurely afternoon working up an appetite for our next meal.

Dinner was booked well in advance as was recommended, at the Red Inn, a 200 year old property overlooking Provincetown Harbor. We were seated at a window table overlooking the water, where, as the evening wore on, we watched the tide gradually creep right up to the inn and wash away the single set of footsteps that were so perfectly plotted along the shoreline, it looked like a postcard. This was, by far, one of the most romantic restaurants we’ve dined at – the intimate, dimly lit dining room was arranged so we could hardly see other patrons and the old world, rustic feel complete with wide plank floors, a brick fireplace, and beamed ceilings, was just our speed. Pair the setting with world class food and an impressive wine list, and we could see why the Red Inn receives glowing accolades and requires reservations six weeks in advance in the high season. To start, I couldn’t resist the lobster and artichoke fondue in a sourdough bowl while James chose the bacon wrapped fried oysters. After my dramatic love affair with the fondue during which I actually silenced James so I could fully focus on the dish, my entrée, a special that evening, halibut with capers and Kalamata olives over Israeli couscous arrived along with James’ chili rubbed double thick pork chop. Both dishes were fantastic and we finished the evening with a big slice of homemade peanut butter mousse pie – okay, I ate most of it, but I’m eating for two and James knows not to take more than a taste or two of his pregnant wife’s dessert. We sunk into a food induced coma that night – our last sound sleep for awhile.

Both restaurants are open year round.

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