Greek salad with lobster, dressing and feta on the side

When one goes on vacation, a good rule-of-thumb for finding a good restaurant is: never within a mile of a business that sells T-shirts, ice cream, candy or — most particularly — salt water taffy.

The restaurant is bound to be a tourist trap, notable more for its view and proximity to the huddled masses than for its cuisine. And for healthy options? You’d have a better chance finding a wax museum.

View from the patio at Pepe’s Wharf

A recent trip to this seaside resort proved otherwise when lunch landed The Restaurant Dieter at Pepe’s Wharf. It delivered on the view; Provincetown Harbor lapped at the shore a few feet below the covered deck, while breezes blew.

But amazingly, it also delivered on the food. The menu is resplendent with seafood, of course, and a host of salads that are either low fat or can be easily adapted to be so. And this is despite a rather stern warning on the menu that items may not be substituted. In two visits, I must have gotten servers who cannot read, fortunately.

When you’re this deep in lobstah-land, the ubiquitous crustacean-and-mayo roll is tempting. In its poorest incarnations, it’s little more than the odds and ends of the creature’s meat, buried in so much commercial mayonnaise that it might as well be canned tuna.

Because Pepe’s doesn’t dress its lobster until just before serving, a dieter could even order a lobster roll and specify a minor amount of dressing, on-the-side or even none at all. Now that’s progress.

Gazpacho sans sour cream

Even though it was lunch, I opted for a starter because the menu had a gazpacho. It seemed a thoughtful addition for a restaurant where cream-based chowders would the expected fare. Why not reward that helpful gesture to dieters?

The soup was a thick collection of meaty diced tomatoes, cucumber, onion, pepper. It had a touch of oil and a tart acid — vinegar, I think — to kick up the flavor. The server thoughtfully suggested that I go without the dollop of sour cream typically included. The soup didn’t suffer.

Likewise, he also told the kitchen to go light on the mayo for the lobster in my Greek salad. I’d assumed in a salad like this that it would come without any dressing at all, but was wrong. Because it was so lightly dressed — perhaps a tablespoon of mayo for what must have been 6 to 8 ounces of lobster, I let it stand. (I’d asked, of course, for the feta and balsamic dressing on the side.)

Did you just catch that? Six to 8 ounces of lobster on the salad — equal to the hefty portions coming out of the kitchen on those toasted hotdog buns. It really was enough to share, but I ate the whole thing, for it was luscious chunks of claw and knuckle meat. Like shrimp, it’s a nutritional bargain. Three ounces is just 77 calories and 1 gram of fat. Provided cholesterol isn’t an issue — there’s 81 mg in that same serving — it makes a great diet food.

That is, if you skip the drawn butter, or tons of mayo it comes served with. At Pepe’s, that’s easy enough.

Just avoid the ice cream and salt water taffy down the street.

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