The town of Hull often tends to conjure up memories of trips to the beach and for some who are a bit older, trips to Paragon Park and all that went with it, including mini-golf, pinball machines, skeeball, and, of course, lots of cheap eats. And while Paragon Park is long gone now, Nantasket Beach remains a centerpiece of this historic South Shore community, and you can still get all kinds of beach food here, including ice cream, slush, burgers and hot dogs, lobster rolls, tacos, pizza, and subs. The food scene in Hull has also progressed quite a bit of late much like so many other Boston-area cities and towns, as one can now find upscale restaurants along with eateries that focus on wholesome, freshly-made foods, with the latter including a real hidden gem across from the beach called the Breadbasket Bakery and Cafe that wouldn't be out of place in Boston's South End or parts of Cambridge, Somerville, or Brookline.
The Breadbasket Bakery and Cafe is located on the northern edge of the main business strip around Nantasket Beach in a structure with little in the way of signage out front, making the place very easy to miss while driving. The former pizza place/sub shop space is now a warm and comfortable spot with a bookcase filled with books to read, throw pillows on a bench seat, murals, pictures, and chalkboards on the walls, jazz, blues, and reggae music softly played in the background, and large picture windows facing the street and the ocean beyond. A mix of high tops, regular tables, chairs along a window counter, and the aforementioned bench seat are set up inside the Breadbasket, while a counter area for ordering sits to the left and an open kitchen section is off to the right. A breadmaking area is housed out back, and the smell of freshly-made bread tends to make its way into the dining area.
Not just a cafe but also a wholesale business, the Breadbasket is indeed all about the bread, and for good reason--outstanding versions of ciabatta, focaccia, brioche, multigrain, rustic Italian, rye, pumpernickel, cranberry walnut, and others can be found here depending on when you go, and the breads rival anything you will find in the Greater Boston area (and because it is a wholesaler, their breads do end up in various restaurants in the region). The place is, however, a cafe as well, and its breakfast and lunch options are well worth checking out, with one of the real highlights being its breakfast sandwiches. The bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, in particular, is a true work of art, with the ingredients being stuffed into a fresh brioche roll, putting so many more "basic" breakfast sandwiches to shame, while the steak, egg, and cheese and the veggie scrambles are also terrific options for sandwiches. Other breakfast items not to overlook (depending on the day and availability) include a marvelous French toast with marscapone cheese and fruit preserves, a savory crabcake benedict, chocolate croissants that rival any tried in the local area, and scones that go perfectly with a cup of tea. The lunch menu at the Breadbasket unsurprisingly focuses on sandwiches, with roast turkey on multigrain, roast pork loin on sourdough, a BLT on focaccia, chicken salad on a brioche roll, roast chicken pesto on focaccia, and roast lamb on ciabatta being a few choices. Salads and flatbreads round out the lunch menu, with the former including a Caesar with roast chicken and the latter including a version with goat cheese and caramelized onion. Drinks at the Breadbasket include some wonderful smoothies, with the tropical smoothie being particularly refreshing, especially on a warm day.
Hull might seem like the type of place where you eat greasy comfort food and sweet treats after a day at the beach, and in many respects, this is true. But with a place like the Breadbasket Bakery and Cafe residing so close to the water, an alternative to "beach food" certainly does exist, and one that bread lovers should definitely not overlook.
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