The Sage Inn & Lounge serves hand-crafted cocktails and inventive dishes in a relaxed, urban setting.By Lisa Leigh Connors
If you visit the Sage Inn & Lounge in Provincetown during the warmer months, you’ll notice an herb wall outside with lemon verbena, six different kinds of mint, basil, sage, tarragon, nasturtium and kale. Jeanne Leszczynski, one of the inn’s owners, is also a horticulturalist who cares for the garden. The variety of herbs provides the inspiration for the hand-crafted cocktails and creative dishes on the menu, which changes twice a year.
Tucked away down a brick path on Commercial Street, the Sage Inn & Lounge—owned by Leszczynski and Diane DiCarlo—takes pride in offering inventive small plates and herb-infused cocktails. Although there are no entrees on the menu, the “small plates with big flavor” will leave you satisfied. The comfortable and classy lounge also features a weekly chef’s table, where award-winning head chef Lucio Garnica creates four- to six-course meals every Saturday night. There’s never a dull moment at the Sage, which offers interactive cooking classes and special events throughout the year. A new series, “Eat. Drink. Art.” showcases five dinners and five artists throughout 2016. Each dinner begins with browsing art and drinking champagne, followed by a five-course seasonal menu with wine pairings.
Mixologist Corey Sievers has built a dedicated following for his unique cocktails. One day while walking down Commercial Street, lounge manager Dan Vanwaus overheard someone say, “I have to go have a Corey.” After sampling a few of his cocktails, I have to agree. On the day we visited, we sampled four mixed drinks. Some of my favorites included “Rum En Croix,” made with Ackee (the national fruit of Jamaica), leaves of basil and Himalayan pink salt; and “Star Fruit,” with starfruit puree, pear nectar, ginger beer and lemongrass-inflused vodka. They are dangerously good. One of the photographers even commented, “I am not a drinker, but I could be with Corey around!”
From there, we tasted three dishes prepared by chef Garnica, who previously worked at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Harwich before landing at the Sage in 2012. Originally from a small town in Michigan, Garnica started his cooking career as a chef for a large hotel chain, which sent him to San Francisco, the island of Malta and Oregon.
Garnica, whose global travels have inspired his dishes, says he is constantly evolving and experimenting. He describes his menu at the Sage as a bizarre twist on New American. We enjoyed dining on fried Wellfleet oysters, an egg yolk salad, and a seared scallop. The oysters featured black garlic aioli with rendered Chinese sausage, micro cilantro and baby kale, picked fresh from the garden that day.
The egg yolk salad, with chive and apple vinaigrette, greens and crisped porchetta reminded us of a modern take on bacon and eggs. The winner for all of us, however, was the scallop, perfectly seared and juicy, combined with a tarragon beurre blanc sauce, shimenji mushrooms, tarragon powder and caviar.
Garnica says he finds satisfaction in cooking fine-dining dishes on a small scale. You can sample several plates, which average $15 each, and avoid committing to one big entrée.
“If you want to try something new,” says Garnica, “what’s better than here?”