Friday, July 29, 2011

Cape Cod bookstores

Stuck on Cape Cod, and the weather sucks?  Or maybe you just like books- especially used books?  I have a couple of suggestions, both on historic Route 6a.  (Note: “historic” means a narrow, winding, tourist- and bicycle-laden scenic road.  Be patient, be attentive, and relax while on 6a, okay?)


You will find Titcomb’s Book Shop in East Sandwich, it is a great family run shop, around since 1969, well organized, with both used and new books.  The figure of the old man under their sign is a local icon, recently repaired after a traffic accident last year left the old guy in need of repair.  The used book section is generally well sorted and arranged for easy browsing.  The staff are “book people”, readers even- the kind of folks you expect at a family bookstore.  Stop by and browse.

Just about 12 miles east on 6a in Yarmouthport is Parnassus Book Service.  Parnassus has been around even longer than Titcomb’s and is in an early 18th century building, a former general store.  Parnassus also has both new and used books, but its charm is that is is a big old rambling used book store.  It is organized, but it is more of a used book spelunking adventure than the tidy Titcomb’s.  Parnassus has a vast array of books covering a variety of topics.  They are also known for their outdoor bookshelves, honor system purchasing of mostly paperbacks under the shelter of the building’s east side.  Plan on an extended browsing session if you venture in.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Two out of three in Washington, DC

On a recent trip to DC we stayed near the Capitol and rediscovered a small cluster of restaurants very close to the Capitol and Union Station.

Along the 300 block of Massachusetts Ave NE there are three adjacent restaurants:

La Loma (Mexican) at 316

Bistro Cacao (French) at 320

Café Berlin (German) at 322


All three have outdoor dining, and it was early summer in Washington so we took advantage of the weather and dined outdoors- adding the the pleasure of the evenings.

During our week in DC we visited each of them on separate evenings.  La Loma is generally the busiest of the three, but I’m not sure why.  The food is reasonably priced, and not bad- but neither authentic nor especially tasty.


The other two, however, are winners.  We had dined at Café Berlin in the past and thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was even better this time.  They have a varied menu combining traditional German dishes with a mix of items from other regions for other palates.  The service has been attentive both times we have dined at Café Berlin and we have had a couple of thoroughly enjoyable evenings there in recent years. 


This was out first visit to Bistro Cacao, and it was fantastic.  The menu is mixed French cuisine, the food outstanding, and service very good.  If you have preconceptions about “snooty French restaurants”, you need to leave them behind, this is a welcoming and friendly place.  As with their neighbors at Café Berlin, Bistro Cacao’s menu travels a beyond its implied borders- for example, I don’t usually think of Sangria when I think of French dining, but we had a nice carafe of red Sangria with our meal.

Both of these restaurants are reasonably priced for the quality of the food and service, especially if you keep in mind that you are on Capital Hill. 

Dining is generally best done leisurely, and in good company- if you are lucky enough to find yourself with time and appropriate companionship, these are the kind of restaurants which can make for a wonderful evening.

(I should be back to dive bars soon enough, don’t worry)



Sunday, July 24, 2011

A quick coffee update

Last year I wrote about some places to find decent coffee on Cape Cod.  Sadly, Paul’s Bean and Bagel is no more.  Good coffee houses on Cape Cod seem doomed, but all is not lost- Paul sold to some folks who have renewed his place into the Coffee Roost.  The decor is now a little too cute for my tastes, but the coffee is still good (still using Beanstock Coffee) and the food menu has expanded a bit and arguably improved.