Wicked fresh in Woods Hole

Quicks Hole Tavern opened recently at the site of the former Leeside bar and restaurant in Woods Hole. — Photo by Kaylea Moore

With a fresh coat of paint showcasing their logo, a horseshoe crab, and a new tap system featuring 12 beers, Quicks Hole Tavern, formerly The Leeside, opened its doors on December 10. Husband and wife team P.K. Simonds and Beth Colt are the new owners of the Woods Hole landmark but are no strangers to the area. They also own the Woods Hole Inn, a year-round establishment, as well as Quicks Hole, a seasonal taqueria around the corner from the tavern, specializing in burritos and tacos.

The transformation of the tavern is still underway. The second floor will have additional seating, with the downstairs staying more casual. “We want it to feel like the inside of an old boat and connect with shipping and sailing,” Ms. Colt said. Currently, only the first floor is open, serving drinks and bar snacks until the kitchen is renovated, which should be in late January, depending on construction.

On a recent Friday, the bar was packed with people enjoying house-made potato chips with blue cheese dip, steaming bowls of chicken noodle soup, and quahog chowder, voted top 10 in Cape Cod by the Cape Cod Times reader’s poll. Other snacks offered were soft pretzels with Rogue Ale cheddar dipping sauce, lemon herb mixed olives, roasted sweet and spicy mixed nuts and free “help yourself popcorn” from the machine in the corner. Three TVs were tuned into sport games and a jukebox remained silent as the standing room only crowd conversed with each other.

Along with the 12 beers on tap ranging from Bud Light and Guinness to Fisherman’s IPA and Brooklyn Lager, there is an extensive craft beer list sure to satisfy any beer drinker’s thirst. A creative cocktail menu features drinks such as Devil’s Foot, a combination of tequila, habanero puree, lime juice, and simple syrup; and The Lee Side, a classic American cocktail of Berkshire Bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters. Wines range from $6.75 to $12 a glass, and coffee, espresso, and cappuccino are also available.

Stephanie Mikolazyk, a Johnson and Wales trained chef who runs the taqueria, will also be at the helm of the tavern. “Part of my desire to grow, is to grow with her into a full-time year-round restaurant,” said Ms. Colt. The tavern will be different than the taqueria, with a full sit-down menu and even talks of an oyster tasting bar.

Ms. Colt and Ms. Mikolazyk are still working on the menu, focusing on quick and easy food such as roasted chicken, burgers, and fresh seafood. “We are really interested in farm to table and sourcing food locally,” Ms. Colt continued. This past summer, Quicks Hole hosted a James Beard Foundation Dinner, with Cal Peternell, chef at the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., that raised more than $10,000 for the James Beard Foundation and for the Falmouth Hospital.

“We want people to understand our level of commitment sourcing food responsibly,” Ms. Colt said, offering “great cooking at a reasonable price,” emphasized in their “wicked fresh” philosophy.

Although many express their dismay to Ms. Colt that The Leeside will no longer be the name, Quicks Hole has its own interesting story behind it. Woods Hole is considered by sailors to be one of the most dangerous passages to get from Vineyard Sound to Buzzards Bay. Quicks Hole, on the other hand, separating Nashawena from Pasque Island, is considered a safe passage and one of the best fishing holes. “Quicks Hole is a beautiful remote place teeming with fish and good for a safe passage for sailors. This resonated with what I wanted Quicks Hole’s food to be like and also quick was in the name,” Ms. Colt said. The idea behind the restaurant stays true to what The Leeside offered. The tavern will be “a place for passengers waiting for the boat to eat a quick bite or get quick take-out.”

The horseshoe crab logo has its own significance. In the 1960s at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, it was discovered that the blood of horseshoe crabs would curdle if exposed to bacteria. Pharmaceutical companies now use horseshoe crab blood to make sure their drugs and vaccines are free of bacterial contamination. According to Ms. Colt, only three companies in the world harvest horseshoe crab blood and one of them is located in Falmouth.

Many people were sad to see The Leeside go, a Woods Hole institution frequented by travelers waiting for the boat, and Ms. Colt shares the sentiment. She recalls stories of Steve McQueen hanging out at The Leeside challenging patrons to a game of pool, and the “Keep Woods Hole Franchise Free” bumper stickers that appeared in the late 80s when the owners wanted to lease the building to McDonald’s. “Our hope,” she concluded, “is that people who loved The Leeside will continue to come here.”

Quicks Hole Tavern is open from 11 am to when the last ferry sails or even later, seven days a week. For more information visit quicksholewickedfresh.com.