The Knucks J. Bowl at J. Bar
Summer hours: Daily 7am-6pm
537 Unit 1E Route 28, Harwichport
774-237-9344 / capecodjuicebar.com
If there was an episode of the 70s TV show The Waltons, where the family outhouse turned into a time machine and dropped John Boy into the lobby of an Apple store, he wouldn’t feel as out of place as I did walking into J. Bar in Harwichport.
Culinary-wise I’m up for anything, but a menu featuring maca powder, raw cacao nibs, bee pollen and something called E3 Live—which I assume has nothing to do with a boy band concert—well, let’s just say this might be more of a free fall than a learning curve.
Employee Maggie O’Donnell could sense my trepidation and eagerly walked me through the entire menu, which features fresh juices (hence the “J”), inventive smoothies, add-ons “health charging supplements”, and creative “almost raw” sandwiches served on sprouted Ezekiel bread, millet bread or burger buns.
The chatter of the incredibly patient customers amassed behind me during my barrage of questions suggested that the J. Bar salads are a real draw, but I’m interested in the Acai J. Bowls. In particular, the summer special called the Knucks J. Bowl, which is an ambrosial blending of almond milk, acai berry, bananas and blueberries, hidden under a floating island of colors and textures provided by raspberries, sliced bananas, brown coconut sugar, muesli, chia seeds and bright coconut flakes. The 24-ounce bowl ($14.95) is easy to share with a friend, and the deep purple of the sweet berry elixir helps to make this dish as beautiful as it is tasty (and, I admit, a heck of a lot healthier than the ten fried clam joints that cried out to me on the way here).
As I’ve intimated before in these pages, sometimes where you eat is just as important as what you eat. If you stripped away the entire menu of this inspired, vegan/paleo cafe and juice bar, you’d still fell pretty darn happy here. It comes from the walls, and the people inside of them.
It’s a family affair. Owner Erin Tucker’s three daughters also work the counter. Her eldest, Alana, happens to be best friends with employee O’Donnell’s younger sister Izzy, who also works here and is president of the Monomoy High School class of 2019. Tucker’s love of the girls spills onto the menu boards (Avacado, for example) and well beyond, as she donates $1 for every Knucks J. Bowl sold to Alana and Izzy’s class (another great reason to enjoy this summer special).
O’Donnell guides me through the raw veggies and the supplements, and enlightens me on how they can positively affect your mind and body.
“If customers come in tired, tense, or even hung-over, we’ll create a snack or a meal to put them back on track. It’s our version of customer service!” I wonder if the Turmeric & Beet Fuel Shot packs as much energy as O’Donnell does. She either loves her job more than anyone I’ve ever interviewed, or simply enjoys creating a convert, and she’s making me want to try everything.
With the addition of their new take-out, J. Bags, the girls can hook you up with a customized, all-day sipping and grazing feast, so I add some zing to my meal with a Sparkle juice (grapefruit, kale, orange and lemon) and for dessert enjoyed the Raw Cacao-Avacado Pudding, but I’d go back tomorrow for the J.Balls, which are rounds of coconut, dates and walnuts that beg the question, “If it’s healthy, is it still considered sinful?”
The J. Bar reminded me exactly why I love writing this back page so much. Sometimes you can open a door of total unfamiliarity, and minutes later walk out with new friends, a freshly polished perspective and a coat pocket full of J. Balls.
Happy summer, everyone.