One of the more unusual recurring destinations I have with my day job is National Technical Systems (NTS) in Boxborough, MA. It’s an engineering service place that does all sorts of engineering testing: shaker tables (exactly that: they shake something really hard to see if it breaks), temperature testing, etc. But the Boxborough area is surprisingly rural for being relatively close to Boston, and basically I can count the number of places to eat during the relatively short lunch break on one hand (and that’s including the Massachusetts-mandatory mini-Dunkin Donuts at the gas station). But during a recent visit, an equipment change gave me and my coworker Eric a larger-than-expected lunch window, so I was finally able to drive just a bit further for lunch and check out a quirky nearby place: Nancy’s Airfield Cafe.
Located at Stow, MA’s Minute Man Airfield, Nancy’s is the sort of small cafe that you occasionally find at small civil aviation airfields all over the US (there’s even A directory of the New England ones): a small, cozy cafe with windows looking out at the airfield. Usually these places serve two communities, civil pilots with their passengers, and the occasional locals, and that’s pretty much what the crowd was when I visited (Nancy, the owner and chef, is a member of the family that owns the airport), although the bar area has a substantial better selection of cocktails (many with aviation-themed names, like the “carburetor de-icer”), which was notable, since at least the departing pilots won’t be indulging (although the menu also includes a good list of virgin cocktails for just this crowd). But in any case, it’s a pleasant seating area on a sunny day, and we even got to watch a few Cessna 182s arrive.
Menu-wise, it’s basically breakfast (all-day), soups, salads, and sandwiches, so lighter cafe fare. I ended up selecting the Cubano, which was a decent take on the classic Cuban sandwich: roast pork, ham, tomato-pickle relish, Swiss cheese, and caramelized onions on panini-pressed Cuban bread. Actually, I found this quite refreshing, since entirely too often these days I’ve had a “Cuban sandwich” offered up to me that wasn’t even close to a true Cubano (I’m reminded of a recent one in Vermont with pulled pork and wasabi; good, but not Cuban). But this had the basics: a good roasted pork and ham, the right pickles, a decent cheese, and a good compression and sear on the Panini press. Overall, a good effort and execution. Also pleasant was the house-made cole slaw, complete with celery seeds (always a controversial inclusion, but I like a good celery-seeded slaw).
Overall, I was happy I finally got a chance to check them out. And hopefully, my future visits to the area will allow me some more chances to try out Nancy’s instead of hitting up the DD yet again. It’s a nice little place.