Just hearing the words Cape Cod makes my taste buds tingle. When I’m there in summer, I feast on fried clams, lobster rolls, and corn on the cob. In other seasons, there’s creamy clam chowder and steamed lobster with melted butter. What could be better?

 

Except that after a while, I yearn for something different, something more nuanced, something more, well, French. That’s when I head for Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis. By day, it’s a bakery where authentic European breads and pastries rule. It’s the perfect spot for a café au lait and an almond croissant or a cranberry and pecan roll. At lunchtime, the awesome breads turn sandwiches sublime.

 

Since it’s located next to the airport, people flying off to Nantucket often stop at Pain D’Avignon first, to stock up on breads and pastries for their vacation.

 

Year-round Hyannis residents drop in for breads, have breakfast there in the morning, and go back again later in the day for lunch or dinner.

 

At dinnertime, Pain D’Avignon is transformed. The ambience changes from a bright, bustling café to a sophisticated French bistro. The lights dim, the candles are lit, the tables are topped with fresh linens and, voila, you’re in Paris and you’re ready to dine.

 

You might want to start with a light and festive Champagne and blood orange cocktail and, of course, some of the bakery’s wonderful crusty bread topped with French butter and sea salt. I could make a meal of just those, but then I’d be missing out on such wonders as beef tartare served with a spicy cognac aioli. Or the amazing gnocchi. They’re little puffs of delight that would float off your plate if they weren’t held down by a bit of sauce.

 

Then there’s the French classic steak frites. They’re served here with Great Hill blue cheese butter and watercress salad.

 

The Cape’s ubiquitous clams and lobsters are here as well, but here they’re given more worldly ways. The butter-poached lobster comes with chanterelles, for example.

 

There are perfect wine pairings, as befitting a French bistro, and desserts are exceptional. If a frangipane tart is on the menu, order it. Order it as soon as you’re seated to be on the safe side. It’s that popular and that good.

 

At the end of your meal, you’ll be given a loaf of bread to take home. It’s perfect. You’ll end one day and begin the next with the heady fragrance of freshly baked bread. That’s my idea of heaven.

 

Who is responsible for this impressive restaurant? Co-owners Vojin Vujosevic and Toma Stamenkovic came to this country from the former Yugoslavia and started out as bread bakers. They opened the bakery in 1992 and built a reputation for their hand-crafted European breads. Gradually expanding the business, they opened the café in 2008. Now they’re celebrating their 20th anniversary. They source as much as possible locally and work in partnership with area farmers and fishermen, which is one reason everything tastes so fresh and alive. Another is the impressive staff they’ve gathered here — from executive chef NEW NAME OF CHEFl to executive pastry chef Else Rhodes, from Cleberson Lemos, the master baker, to general manager Mario Mariani.

 

Cape Cod is a little closer to Europe now, thanks to them.

 

 

 

 

Pain D’Avignon

 

15 Hinckley Road, Hyannis, MA 02601

508.778.8588

www.paindavignon.com