About two years ago, I took a wrong turn heading to Hyannis Airport and discovered what would become a regular pit stop on my way out to Nantucket. A piece of France at Pain D’Avignon is what I found, a hidden gem on Cape Cod. Down a non discript side street about a block from the swank new airport, sits a French cafe and artisan bakery that is an oasis in this land across the bridge.
The good news/bad news is that I am not the only one to have stumbled on this jewel. Every time I have stopped in to take advantage of their menu and perfect espresso, it’s been what you might call a zoo. While it’s definitely worth the wait, I would suggest calling ahead for any grab & go, especially if you’re trying to catch a flight. Now that the season has slowed, it just might be the perfect time for a visit. The cafe serves European-style breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was thrilled that my timing last week allowed for a first time dinner, so I could really experience the restaurant’s commitment to high quality, fresh ingredients from local farm and sea.
I ordered a cocktail, the Douce Mademoiselle, featuring two of my favorite ingredients: grapefruit and St. Germain. It was indeed smooth and sweet (although I’m not so sure about the mild). After a chat with chef Matt Tropeano, I knew I would be in good hands requesting whatever fish specials were on the menu. My first course was a blue fish rillette, which is a delicious change from the normal pate and really allowed the taste of the blue fish to sing. Pickled cucumbers from Barnstable farm provided the crunch, and mustard seeds gave a little pop of flavor. While this type of fish can be quite “fishy” if not filleted and cooked properly, I found the smoky, olive oil goodness and rustic nature perfect for spreading on their beautifully crusted bread.
Next came a local scallop ceviche. Three thinly sliced pieces of heaven, perfect on the white plate, as it tasted as delicate and etherial as pillows of fluffy clouds. I don’t wake up thinking of very many dishes the next day, but this is one of them. Seeing the photo as I write is truly making my taste buds salivate. Flavored with preserved lemon, jalapeño, scallion and borage flowers, it hinted of the sea and Nantucket sound as it melted in my mouth.
The plat du jour was a blackback flounder meunière with local haricots verts and cherry tomatoes. The fish was moist and meaty and the sauce added just the right amount of rich flavor to compliment the main ingredients.
Unfortunately, I had no additional room for any of what I am sure are delicious deserts, and just enough time to catch the last flight out for the evening. Well fed, I headed for Nantucket…but not so fast, as my charming waiter caught up to me with a fait accompli. A parting gift for all dinner guests, the perfect loaf of artisan bread for french toast in the morning. All I could say was, Merci!
Pain D’Avignon has counter service daily 7am-5pm (kitchen closed 3pm-5:30pm) Dinner service Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday 5:30pm-10pm. Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays 5:30pm-11pm. Wednesday evenings enjoy live music. Closed Monday nights.
15 Hinkley Road, Hyannis, MA. (508)-778-8588