Tavern at the Dan’l Webster Inn: Lobster Grilled Cheese

You think you know grilled cheese, but I’m certain you don’t.

Remember the hole-in-the-wall Grilled Cheese restaurant down on the Lower East Side? I thought their fare was the ultimate representation of grilled cheese. I was wrong. (So wrong, in fact–they’ve closed shop.)

The Tavern at Dan’l Webster Inn, located in Sandwich, MA (Cape Cod), features a lobster grilled cheese. Set apart on the menu–centered, near the bottom as though the other dishes are its modest preamble–and proudly noted, “Voted Best Sandwich in Sandwich” you can’t miss it.

When I first heard about the lobster grilled cheese, I imagined cheddar or American cheese, sorely underestimating the culinary aspirations of the rustic Tavern. Two perfectly toasted pieces of white bread cradle melted brie and a dash of dill with a layer of pesto lining the upper slice. Fresh lobster, chopped into soft geometric pieces, fills the middle portion of the sandwich.

If you think that’s heavenly, you’ll find their lobster chowder and lobster roll absolutely transcendent.

Prior to my visit to Cape Cod, I hadn’t ever eaten lobster. To put it mildly, I went lobster-wild at the Tavern. The grilled cheese was an obvious choice, but we needed another dish. We chose half a lobster roll with lobster chowder.

First, the lobster roll. It was exactly what a lobster roll should be. A crusty, lightly poppy-seeded bun was dwarfed by a portion of lobster salad meant for a larger or second roll. The salad itself had big chunks of chowder lubricated with just-enough mayonnaise. When I look at pictures of lobster rolls, I either see too much white or too much red.

Check out this lobster salad. To New York lobster pounds: THIS is the right color.

Next, the lobster chowder. Thick and creamy, with sizable, succulent pieces of lobster. Still tongue-tied, I’m not sure what more I can say. I’ve never had anything like it. I doubt I ever will.

Next time you go to Cape Cod (or even Boston–seriously), take a detour to Sandwich for the best sandwiches and chowder you’ll ever have. One more recommendation? Don’t bother with Ice Cream Sandwich. Like you, I wanted an ice cream sandwich from Sandwich. All I got was a coffee ice cream Chipwich wannabe.

Overall, I found that the best thing to eat on Cape Cod is lobster. And Portuguese Soup.

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ALEX BATTLES &THE WHISKY REBELLION

Any band that sings a song called “Jesus Wore Flip Flops” is my kind of band.

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Alex Battles & the Whisky Rebellion, photo from whisky rebellion website

So when I first experienced Alex Battles and the Whisky Rebellion on July 4 at the Brooklyn Museum, I knew it was love at first listen.

Self-described as “roof-shaking joyful hodgepodge of honky-tonk, jump blues, and rocknroll,” the Whisky Rebellion plays bittersweet ballads punctuated by irreverence and a familiar old-fashioned feeling that keeps your toes tapping and head nodding.  Their band consists of six mainstay members, but every now and then, other players show up or drop out–depends on what night you see ’em. Lots of guitar, a drum, bass, washboard, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, jug, and even a prosletyzer if you’re lucky. I haven’t seen resident prosletyzer, Shafer Hall, nor do I know what views he wishes to share, but I’m intrigued and eager to listen.

On August 15, Furry and I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Battles with parts of his band at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn (Alex Battles has a song about this place). The fiddler wasn’t there, but the music was definitely on.

It’s a Love Story

A band you won’t want to miss live. Upbeat songs such as “It’s Raining in Brooklyn” and “Pennsylvania,” crowd-pleasers at both venues, showcase the harmonica player’s prowess. Shaky Dave is the finest harmonica player … in the five boroughs. (Honestly? I don’t have much to compare to. OK, I can probably speak for NJ.) It’s Shaky Dave’s incredible range and his fun bridge solos that set the tone of each song.

Alex Battles, from his website

Alex Battles, from his website

Alex Battles, guitarist and lead vocalist, delivers lyrics with a deep, charming voice that sounds like smiling. There’s something playful about him: he’s having a good time, so you will too. The man loves the stage almost as much as he loves himself (from the look of his website). With his shit kickers and ten gallon hat, Alex Battles is definitely bringing country back to Brooklyn.

The wiry lead guitarist owns the songs. He’s the one to watch when you see them live. He slinks back and forth in his small area onstage as he dominates the complicated guitar lines. He also plays the washboard and skillfully switches between guitar and washboard (which has to be slung over his head) in seconds.

Another Record to Burn

The only problem I had with the second ABWR performance was the harmonica player. I know, didn’t I just say he was amazing and probably the shining star of the band? He is, but it was too much for me. Before ABWR took stage, another band invited Shaky Dave up to play. By the time he got around to accompanying ABWR, I felt I had heard all his tricks rendering his efforts indistinguishable song to song.

Tied Together With (or Without) a Smile

Totes smiles. Amazing live act and their studio albums are iPod-playlist worthy.

I can’t wait to see ABWR at the three-day Brooklyn Country Music Festival! They’re headlining September 19’s “Giant Saturday” filled with other awesome acts such as the Lonesome Prairie Dogs.

You know you look just like a friend of mine
He’s always drinking two dollar wine
Because he can’t afford the moonshine
Two dollar wine suits him just fine

If you feel you can relate to the above lyrics (you know you can, two buck chuck drinkers), download their albums for free here!

Bliss Bistro::Sunnyside, Queens

BLISS BISTRO

Gesturing to the street sign–46th Street/Bliss–Furry said, “Places around here get a lot of mileage out of that.”

Bliss, my friend, is the that Furry speaks of.

He’s right. They do. Nail shops, fruit stands, bars, Starbucks even (well, if they could, they would). Businesses assure us of their overwhelming bliss-filled essence. And we believe them. (We shouldn’t.)

Bliss Bistro, located on the corner of 46th and Skillman, capitalizes even more on the euphoric-sounding modifier. The restaurant’s name is written in luxurious script on the cream-and-green facade. On top of it, Bliss Bistro is French. How utterly blissful!

Don’t lose yourself in this Sunnyside reverie. The bliss stops here.

It’s a Love Story

I ordered Filet Saumon ($15?): a generous cut of delicate salmon over a ladleful of indifferently spiced lentils and grilled seasonal vegetables. The salmon nicely complemented my lentils. A light meal–exactly what I was hoping for after a week of heavy, mystery meals.

Furry tried their Coq au vin ($13), a sunken dish filled with a tender stew: red wine chicken, mashed potatoes, bacon, and mushrooms in hearty gravy. He wasn’t impressed; not bliss impressed anyway. I found it interesting. Bacon’s inclusion in any meal always grabs me by the taste buds and forces me to slow down to allow the melting fatness to fill me. (Don’t deny it. You’re hungry right now.)

Waitstaff was total Love Story: attentive, nice, prompt.

Another Menu to Burn

Taking advantage of a dry night, we sat in the restaurant’s garden. Bliss Bistro’s interior is moodily lit by candles and waning sunlight through windows. Round tables with lawn furniture lined the fenced-in patio. The smell of burning Citronella wafted over our table, chairs. This is lovely, I thought, as I raised my Blue Moon to the clear blue sky.

And then the mosquitoes landed. Furry took several hits on his arms, while I walked away with only one bite. “Isn’t Queens supposed to be better about mosquitoes?” Furry asked rhetorically. Agreed. Isn’t it the pigs we have to worry about in Queens?

We rushed out of there. Without dessert. What’s up with the mosquito infestation, Bliss Bistro?

Also, a table behind us featured two older ladies discussing important topics (sounded like health care, could have been knitting club) while slamming back Cosmopolitans and other lady-like drinks. So, I’m not sure who their clientele is, but I’m concerned about joining their regular crowd.

Tied Together With (or Without) a Smile

Should you persuade me to try Bliss Bistro again, I’d opt for indoor seating and brunch, perhaps. I’m always fond of bistro brunches–Balthazar among the very most bliss-filled.

I can handle mediocre food, but I prefer to eat and not be eaten during dinner.

Bliss Bistro
4520 Skillman (at 46th Street)
Sunnyside, Queens
46th Street stop on 7 train