A James Beard-Winning Chef Brings Big Butch Energy to Provincetown

Kelly Fields merges New England favorites with southern comfort, all while establishing a new anchor point for the community.

Photo by Brian Samuels

Provincetown, that stretch of heaven on the tip of Cape Cod, boasts a number of landmarks that serve like compass points, texted to friends to plan perfect summer days. Meet at the Ptown Inn pool at noon. The Boat Slip at 5. Harbor Lounge at 8. The sprawling entertainment and hospitality complex in the center of town, the Crown & Anchor, is one of those points, too. But even though there’s been a restaurant on the property for decades, it wasn’t exactly known as a go-to dining destination. Or as James Beard Award-winning chef and recent Ptown transplant Kelly Fields tells it, “You leave tea and then walk down the street until you find some restaurant you can get into. And it was generally this place, but it didn’t feel fun and inviting to me.”

James Beard Award-winning chef, Butch’s founder, and recent Ptown transplant Kelly Fields. / Photo by Brian Samuels

But with Butch’s—the chef’s new all-day veggie-forward and southern-inflected restaurant that opened at the hotel complex over Memorial Day—Fields is changing that. Gone is the former stuffy atmosphere and buttoned-up bites of the 65-seat restaurant with its 45-seat outdoor patio and two 14-person bars. Enter finger foods, fresh salads, sandwiches, and bright entrees that deliver on serious flavors while leaning into the town’s playful atmosphere and queer energy. Hanging out with Fields on Butch’s patio the third week of service, it’s easy to see a summer where diners flock here to pair the high-low delight of tater tots with caviar-topped crème fraiche in the town’s best people-watching spot. Living up to the Crown & Anchor’s location in the middle of everything, Butch’s is finally a new anchor point for the community.

The story of how Fields ended up in Ptown is a pretty familiar tale for a place populated with visitors who never seem to leave. “I just sort of landed here and didn’t expect to put down roots,” they say. “But I can’t imagine being anywhere else at this point.” With BRG Hospitality, the Southern native opened up the restaurant and bakery Willa Jean in New Orleans in 2015. The spot garnered rave reviews, earning Fields the coveted Outstanding Pastry Chef accolade at the 2019 James Beard Awards. “I’d opened that restaurant, and it was wildly successful and grew into something that I didn’t necessarily recognize anymore,” Fields says. As they tell it, twenty years of round-the-clock work in kitchens meant they couldn’t even answer simple questions like, “What do you do for fun?” They sold Willa Jean in 2021, and balm for their burnout was the beachy bliss of Provincetown.

Smoked salmon reuben with sauerkraut, dressing, and an everything pumpernickel bagel. / Photo by Brian Samuels

Caviar and tator tots. / Photo by Brian Samuels

There, Fields dove into the town’s vibrant queer community and cautiously tiptoed back into cooking. In 2022, they ran a New Year’s Eve pop-up at the Crown & Anchor, which turned into brunch service two days a week. Then four. “To be able to feed all the people I’ve grown to love and live around was just so fun and made me fall in love with the idea of doing that again,” they say about starting a new restaurant. Balena, the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant by chef Raina Stefani, opened in Crown & Anchor in 2022, and during Fields’s pop-ups last summer, the space hosted different concepts and chefs throughout the day. Walking away from that summer, Fields knew that the restaurant needed one unified concept all day long. And when Balena closed in November 2023, planning for Butch’s began in earnest, with Mary Zayaruzny joining as director of food and beverage.

A large dollop of pimento cheese beside a row of grilled Saltine crackers, all served on a light blue oval plate.

From the finger foods menu section, pimento cheese with Saltines. / Photo by Brian Samuels

Fields sees Butch’s seasonal, evolving menu as “a Swiss Army knife,” they say. “Even if you didn’t know what you were in the mood for, you can come here and find something that’s gonna scratch whatever itch.” That means a wide net of both crowd-pleasing comfort foods like a classic burger to lighter fare of a pickled beet salad with pistachio, berries, and goat cheese dressing. Many options merge New England cuisine with southern twists, too.

A casual, but stylish dining room with LGBTQ+-friendly patrons with pegboard-like ceilings and lighting fixes of electric-candles and rope.

Living up to the Crown & Anchor’s location in the middle of everything, Butch’s is finally a new anchor point for the community. / Courtesy

The eight dishes in the finger foods section are perfect for long afternoons on the patio over drinks. Dig into lobster deviled eggs and pickled shrimp served with roasted jalapeño. The roasted cabbage with chili crunch and fried garlic elevates a humble side-ingredient to an almost meaty main event with a caramelized exterior. Of the salad section, Fields looks to their pastry background for inspiration. “I always tried to make desserts that eat the way that salads eat, where every bite is new. Every bite is interesting,” they say. “You go back like it’s a mix tape some lover gave you and you want to know what the next song is.” Of the five offerings, the elote and Brussels sprout salad is a standout, mashing up grilled street corn flavors of cotija cheese, chipotle, and crema with crispy sprouts. Meanwhile, locals have already dubbed the new favorite radicchio Italian chop salad with mozzarella, pepperoncini, salami, and herbs as the “pizza salad.”

Elote and brussel sprouts salad. / Photo by Brian Samuels

Eight plates in the “a fistful” section are like a greatest hits of comfort food. A fried chicken sandwich with serrano slaw and Cape Cod chips—“local,” teases Fields, “It says ‘Cape Cod’ right on the bag”—looks to sambal mayo for a bit of kick. Fields called up their favorite Vietnamese restaurant in New Orleans, Tan Dinh, for advice on crafting an herb-packed cod banh mi. Other plates cater to requests, too. Crown & Anchor owners and couple Jonathan Hawkins and Paolo Martini didn’t want to see another lobster roll in a town full of them. Fields’s southern twist sees crawfish tails tossed with a Cajun-spice-packed remoulade and served on a griddled bun with pickled onion. General manager Daniel Marandola asked for a hot dog and chicken tenders. The Ron’s Chicago hot dog piles on the toppings—sweet pickle relish, pickles, sport peppers, and mustard—with absolutely no need for ketchup. Meanwhile Fields (who, like everyone is a fan of the no-frills chicken tenders at the Ptown Inn during days off by the pool) is still working on house-made sauces for Butch’s tenders, though thankfully booked-solid services are delaying this a bit.

Photo by Brian Samuels

With the “a mouthful” section of six larger entrees, Fields knows when to bring the decadence and when to dial it back. Fries doused with chicken jus serve as a bed for brined and roasted chicken. The whole dish is drizzled in a fresh and spicy basil and pepper vinaigrette, and the last soaked fry is the whole reason to order the dish. As for the shrimp and grits, “It’s in my blood, it has to be there,” Fields says. Their version incorporates seven cheeses including mascarpone, ricotta, and shredded cheddar for a rich and gooey bite. One of the lighter dishes, a pan-seared salmon with faro salad, is for the boys settling down to pre-disco dinners. “I wanted to give them something that they can eat and still want to go to A-House and dance,” Fields says with a laugh. “You have to know your audience.”

Photo by Brian Samuels

Butch’s strength comes from Fields knowing their audience—what they want to eat, what vibes they want to soak in during weekend drag brunches of griddled banana bread and biscuits—and becoming more comfortable in their own skin, too. Ptown, like the rest of the country where there are currently only 32 lesbian bars in operation, doesn’t have a lot of luck keeping lesbian-leaning spaces open. From the Sapphic sips on the cocktail menu (take the Fingerbang Martini, plus the boozy coffee drink called the Fast Car, named after Berklee alum Tracy Chapman’s heartbreaking queer ballad) to the décor (“I took all the art off the walls and make sure that we had strong images of femininity and women and butches,” Field says), the atmosphere seems to tell women that they are thought about and seen. That Ptown is for them, too.

Photo by Brian Samuels


“When I was a young queer kid in the south, being called ‘butch’ felt like the worst possible thing,” Fields says of the restaurant’s name and concept. “We’ve been able to reclaim all these words like ‘fag’ and ‘dyke’ as a community, and ‘butch’ feels like one that I needed to have a reckoning with. So I’m reclaiming it and making it mine.” And there’s a certain giddy joy sparked by seeing “Butch’s” in flowing hot pink script on the mirror of the dining room, surrounded by flowers, while Tori Amos deep cuts join tracks by Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Madonna on the soundtrack that’s curated by Fields. “The thing about getting older and taking the time to learn myself—and one of the most beautiful things about butch women in particular—is being completely untethered to giving a fuck about what other people think,” they continue. “Like, standing in your own power and not being ashamed of it.”

Which is about the perfect welcome to Butch’s and Ptown in general. With summer blissfully here—and what’s a summer without Provincetown?—here’s hoping you can drift to the Crown & Anchor and dock for a while.

247 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-1430, onlyatthecrown.com/the-restaurant. Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, brunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with two drag brunch shows at 11:30 a.m and 1:30 p.m, dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

James Beard Award-winning chef and recent Ptown transplant Kelly Fields. / Photo by Brian Samuels

Photo by Brian Samuels

Photo by Brian Samuels