Haven Bakery and Cafe, Lenox, MA
Anybody know when it's scheduled to open? It's in the old Carol's space.
Surprised to see no one has replied to this. Haven Bakery is now open. We checked it out at about noon today & they were only serving breakfast. Nice menu but my husband wanted something more lunch-ish. So we ate at Baroods & had crepes. They seem to be trying to be very French. The crepes were fine, but my side salad was served without dressing. Is that authentically a la Francaise?
As mentioned, it's open. It's a lovely addition to Lenox - the people seem very nice, helpful, genuine. The baked goods are very good, the coffee as well. Stopped last Saturday, and, like others, was looking for "lunch" but they only serve breakfast on weekends or salads from the case. Not sure why and it seems a shame.
I'll no doubt stop this week for lunch at some point, but until then, it'll be lattes and croissants.
I stopped fo check it out a few weeks ago and was unimpressed enough by the looks of their pastries, and put off by their food prices, that I didn't try anything. Just read in today's Eagle that they get their croissants from a Montreal bakery, so they're "authentic." Huh? A croissant shouldn't be sold more than 12 hours after baking, and I rather doubt that they get them in daily within that time period. Somehow, both Mrs. London's in Saratoga and Euphoria, outside of Northampton (Hadleyville) manage to bake world class croissants, right here near the Berkshires.
Also, the article makes a point that they get their baguettes from a bakery in Tribeca in NYC. Wonder if she's aware of Berkshire Mountain Bakery, right down the road? Again, a baked good wherein freshness sure does count.
Was also told, by my hairdresser who works down the block, that they tack on a $3 "to go" charge. Not good.
I suppose I should give them a try at some time, but as a bakery hound, the first impressions have been really poor.
Haven is great! I just moved to Lenox and it is by far my favorite (and the most addictive) place to eat. Their croissants and baguettes <i>are</i> sourced outside the bakery, but the quality is fantastic. All of their other pastries are made in house and I've tried probably 8 or 9 different pastries/desserts and have yet to be disappointed. Their sandwiches are great too. The way I describe Haven to guests at my Inn is "They do simple, clean food REALLY well." And I find that to be very accurate. The Croque Monsieur (my favorite sandwich) is bread, dijon, ham, sliced pear, and gruyere. Simple, yes, but done very, very well. I've probably had that sandwich 6 times in the last month.
I have to say though, I think it's a little elitist to completely swear off a restaurant just because they outsource one of the most difficult and time consuming pastries in common cuisine. But whatev, more croissants for me. :-)
Wow... I'm seriously amazed at this response. I just moved here from upstate NY and the strongest impression i get from this whole area is that the food is flat out ridiculously priced. Seriously, where I'm from $16 per plate is pretty much 5-star gourmet pricing. I've seen spaghetti out here for that much. Not even fancy spaghetti! Pasta and sauce, on a plate, $16. wtf.
Part of the appeal of Haven, for me, is that it's one of the most [comparatively] reasonably priced places in this godforsaken area. And frankly, if I'm going to spend $10 for a sandwich, I'd like to at least know that I'm supporting a local farmer or two while I'm at it.
For someone to say that Haven is too expensive while Bistro Zinc charges $18 for a burger is just plain astounding....
I didn't notice anyone saying Bistro Zinc was cheap. They didn't, and it isn't. They just said that Haven is expensive. Lots of stuff around here is way overpriced, as you've noticed. Lenox and Stockbridge are high-rent areas.
We don't consider ourselves godforsaken however. --- Have you ever tried Cafe Reva on Tyler Street for breakfast or lunch? On a Roll, on North Street, for same? Brix for a really terrific French bistro dinner at comparatively reasonable prices? These places all try to support local farmers as well. Check out Cakewalk in Lee.
No, we're not upstate NY. (How far up in NY? The Canadian border? We once went searching for dinner in Troy --- ah, well. But real estate prices are a lot higher here, on the whole, and that's reflected in food prices.)
Since you're stuck here, make the best of it. Jae's Spice for lunch, also Pittsfield. Haven't tried the new Pizza and Brazilian place (seriously) yet over on Elm Street, but it comes highly recommended. Kim's Dragon out on Route 20; plates somewhat higher than $16.00 but delicious, and enough for two people, or two meals for one.
Winter's not the best time to explore, granted: but give it a go.
The Burger at Bistro Zinc for lunch is $13, for dinner it is $18. It is a great Burger, 9oz of Black Angus Chuch, Brioche Bun, Sauteed Mushrooms, Cherry Wood Smoked Bacon, Comte Cheese, Crispy Onion Rings and Hand Cut Fries. All served in a beautiful environment. I have no problem paying for such a quality product.
The “Croque Monsieur” is a fried “grilled cheese” sandwich that’s been around a long time. It should be prepared with Gruyere and, NO, it’s not typically made with a white sauce (regardless of how Barood’s makes theirs). All this “Americanized” use of Béchamel, Mornay and Divan go back to the absurdity known as the Magic Pan; a concept best left dead.
As for the importing of baguettes and croissants, these must come frozen and re-heated with after an applied egg wash. And let me give you a little secret, many highly rated restaurants and cafes purchase their bread (precooked) and croissants (raw) frozen as these items must be served freshly baked out of the convection oven or they go stale quick.
If this café uses fresh, local ingredients in their food they can charge what they wish. And if locals come to eat there and pay higher than average prices, so much the better for them. (And I do agree it’s pricey.)
But, I'm really surprised some of the naysayers don't at least try the place for a weekend brunch or a freshly cooked pastry perhaps?
I really trust my friends, who are all foodies, in their assessment of a new establishment. Most of the places around the Berks utilize locally grown foods. If you check with local wholesalers most of them buy locally before searching for goods. Most of the things I see on menus are items that I can cook myself. I like to go out to eat where I can truly enjoy the person or people i am with, while enjoying a nice meal. If I want to pay big bucks, I don't mind, If I want a good value, there are many, many options out there. If you are new to the area, try the out of the way places.... you may be quietly surprised.
I value your opinion as you have actualy been there and I have not. But I never read that you actually tried the food. If you write that “it is priced too high” or “I heard from trusted sources” etc, I would value that even more. But when I read “fancy names for ham sandwiches etc...” I think you may be a bit harsh with your critcizm.
As for local food, I’m not a big fan of the concept, though many of my associates are. I think you must get the best quality for the best price. Many shops sell “locally sourced” for the correctness of the concept vs the practicality. But I would never eat at a place soley because they use local produce or meats, I would only eat there because the food tastes good. But, we’re talking about a lunch café concept here, not a fine dining establishment.
To me, the Haven Bakery & Café sounds like a winner over it’s predecessor, Carol’s, and I’m sure the “locals’ will get over it soon enough.
Here’s their website, so others may take a look:
FYI: Mrs. London's croissants are baked daily in house and not frozen dough, which is why I'm willing to drive to Saratoga (or the saturday Troy farmer's market.)
And I went to Haven the 2nd week they were open, to try a pastry but, frankly, was put off by their rather unimpressive looks--the prices, in my opinion, require a true patisserie item.
As to the bread--Berkshire Mountain Bakery, which is a local artisan bakery, uses the best possible ingredients. How can you sell yourself as a locavore oriented shop when you bypass excellent local sources????????
Haven is far from the only venue in the Berkshires that is trying to make use of local produce and suppliers; however, they seem to be doing it in a rather backwards manner.
Plus, I feel the need to add, as I complained about the price and where the items came from, that anyone who shops at Mrs. London's is obviously willing to pay top dollar for quality fresh food and baked goods.
I'm sure Mrs. London's is great, I happen to like the Jalapeno & Cheddar bread from their other business: the Rock Hill Bakehouse in Glens Falls, but you NEVER even tasted the croissants or bread from Haven.
For all I know the Berkshire Mountain Bakery doesn't sell to competitors or wholesale and what does that matter where they source their bread??
I really need to know, how awful did the pastries at the Haven Bakery look??
Berkshire Mountain Bakery is primarily a supplier to restaurants, etc. They maintain a tiny retail counter at their bakery more or less as a service to locals. They also come to local Farmer's Markets, but that of course is only in season. (Their pizzas are incredible, too; you can buy those at a couple of places like Guido's and Nejaimes.)
Well bewley, you could stop by for yourself and see how the pastries appear. Any baker can pick out how a croissant ought to look, and what would indicate a less than adequate version.
As an aside--when I peruse chow comments, I note whether the person is local or not. It's interesting that there seems to be a division in this discussion between locals and, perhaps, travelers. "Cept for brande.mae, who considers her newly adopted home as godforsaken-- a comment which the Berkshire Tsarina politely called her on. There are many here who would be less politic--if you don't care for the area, no one's requiring you stay
I’ve been to Lenox only once, to get my car fixed, but it looked like a nice enough town.
I actually live in the Seacoast region of southern Maine and around here most of the places that sell ice cream carry a brand called Shane’s of Maine. Once in a while we see a place carry Annabelle’s or a gelato from Portland, but 9 x’s out of 10 it’s Shane’s. Shane’s ice cream is ok, but not outstanding. It’s a “local” name recognition sort of thing.
Now, I’m sure the Berkshire Mountain Bakery has excellent breads and whatnot, but let me ask: why carry the same “local” product everyone else does? We can have the same discussion about coffee. All the places in Vermont that carry Green Mountain . . .
With regards to this particular discussion, it amazes me that all the people who tried this Haven Bakery & Café seem to like it, yet those who haven’t actually tasted the food do not. To me, that’s sort of weird. What’s even weirder is something that you mjoyous point out is that the “locals” have decided to avoid this place for whatever reason.
Are there any other "locals" who care to share??
To finish (I hope) my Haven thread...as a pastry hound, I chose not to spend my dollars at the Haven counter based on, to this point unsaid, less than appealing service (admittedly it was the height of tourist season) while waiting in line--this is beyond the unappealing look of the pastries. Admittedly I was influenced by my stylist's, whose upscale salon is around the corner from Haven, comment about the tacked on $3 "to go" charge.
I'm happy to talk ice ream with you too-- and totally agree with your point. I love having ice cream options....but ice cream vs. fresh bread is like apples vs. oranges. If ice cream is stored at proper freezer conditions, it makes no difference if it was produced locally or 3000 miles away ('cept for the green issues). And options are wonderful: case in point, we have an excellent local creamery, SoCo, that makes very good ice cream. There's great ice cream available in Northampton, and Trader Joe's in Hadley now carries a 4 cup sampler of Choctal (a CA. high end company making just single estate varieties of chocolates and vanillas.) It's wonderful to have all those options!
But bread is best freshly prepared and baked-- which to me, means local. Sure, you can finish bake La Brea frozen breads in the Berkshires--but tell you what--they don't taste like they do fresh in LA!
And as local, as the Tsarina and 627 pointed out, we're really blessed to have Berkshire Mountain Bakery. Check them out--certainly as good as Rock Hill, which is also great.
I was really excited to see the posts about Haven as we used to go to Carol's now and then when in Lenox(We go to Lenox/Lee 10 or 12 times a year and we're heading there again this weekend. for the Stockbridge Christmas Concert,to buy more Barrington Coffee(the best coffees we've ever had),and to stock up on Nodine goodies at NeJaime's.
I'm defintely going to stop at Haven and try some of their breakfast pastries..
I've never seen such a wide discrepancy of opinions about a place.
Usually there is a consensus about good restaurants in the area.
We Chezx Nous,Rouge,and when well-financed we even to go Wheatleigh rarely(but not this year I'm afraid).
Will let you know what we think of Haven when we get back.
We also have cocktails at the Red Lion(with the early-day bartender;the old bartender at the end of the day is miserble and testy) and the dinner food is over-priced for what you get there.
Breakfast is elegant there and the food ,while a bit pricy,is good and the coffee is from Barrington's so it's just fine also.
We were in Stockbridge last Saturday on the way home and we had breakfast at the restaurant just to the left of the Candle Shop in Stockbridge.
I can't think of the name of the place.
Nothing fancy but good food,very good coffee,and really good service.
We usually breakfast at Rosie's in Lee when we're in a hurry .
Good service,a few good specials ,and we enjoy their kiebasa with breakfast entrees.
Saturday night dinner is up for grabs.
Does Cafe' Lucia still serve their great Osso Bucco,does anyone know?
They took Osso Bucco off the menu af ew years ago as the price was approaching $45/meal because the owner told us the cost of the meat had risen so much.
We avoid Zinc religiously.
Their lousy service,small portions,and high prices have ruined more than one meal there for us over the years.
Any other favorites in the area from anyone?
Well, one of the very best places to eat in the Berkshires will require you to leave Lenox/Stockbridge and go all the way up to Pittsfield. BRIX is outstanding, and moderately priced as these things go, and has a terrific woman chef and a good wine list (it began life as a wine bar but now shines as a bistro).
Pretty sure Cafe Lucia (talk about high prices!) is already closed for the season, but you can check.
While in Stockbridge, Once Upon a Table is the best, hands down. Tiny, with its own eccentric personality and charm. Lunch --- cafe stuff---- dinner, proper dinner food. Prices moderate altho obviously, higher at dinner. Their profiteroles are possibly the best in the universe. Four to a portion, and you can order a half portion if you're dieting!
Thanks for the tip about Once Upon a Table!
I can't tell you how many times we've walked right by the place without even givng the place a thought about eating there.
I just pulled up their website and we will try this place this weekend also.
I've heard good things about BRIX but we'll have to let that one go as we're staying right in the Lee/Lenox,Stockbridge area this weekend.
We'll have to save BRIX for our January,2009 trip.
Thanks for the suggestions!
I'll let this site know what we think after the weekend.
I'm a local and I love this place. I've tried several of the pastries and they have been excellent - they have a sour cream coffee cake that is almost as good as my grandmother's recipe that I now make, and I haven't run into that quality anywhere else. A molasses cookie of theirs was one of the best I've had, their biscuit studded with ham and gruyere was fabulous. Lenox tends to be expensive, but I didn't think this place was nearly as pricey as many places there. I've only had the opportunity to have one sit down meal there, but am looking forward to going there for breakfast soon. It is baffling to me that someone found the look of the pastries unappealing - to me they look fresh and homemade. And that's how they taste.
re: fame da lupo
This may actually be the case, as crazy as it sounds, it may be similar to fortune cookies served in Hong Kong or sauce served on crepes in Paris (again, not traditional). Similar to the regional Italian-American discussion I think we had a while back and I agreed with you on that point. If you served traditional Italian cuisine (recent, regional and updated) on Federal Hill in Providence the locals would laugh at you and say it's not "authentic".
The food you may be served in Paris or Rome may be actually suited to tourists taste. Have you ever eaten on Mott Street in NYC? There's a few places that served great food to the bridge and tunnel crowd, but you would never see that stuff in China. Mexican food served in Cancun may be another example.
With regards to the sandwich in question, read this thread:
Actually, there are several French recipes that call for Bechamel in their Croque Monsieur. You are right that it originally was a hot ham and cheese sandwich, but has since flurished in the French culture using a key ingredient, Bechamel. The chef at Baroods is a real Frenchmen and wouldn't appreciate the comment about "americanized" concepts or comparing his restaurant to the Magic Pan. Besides, isn't this blog about Haven? BTW, the chef of Baroods is now the head chef at Zinc.
I have worked with many chefs in my day and I must say that just because someone hails from such and such a place, should not be the leading indicator of culinary "authenticity." It's about as inane as stating only a certain ethnic group can play a specific type of music, etc. So please spare me the "real Frenchmen" (sic) comment.
Baroods is in the same town as Haven, is it not? So many patrons may think Baroods sandwich is mainstream (in France), which it is not. Bechamel may be a nice added ingredient, but it does not make the "Croque Monsieur" any more authentic. And you would never see sauces on crepes in Brittany (where they originated).
Also, I'm sure his restaurant is much better than the Magic pan (that was not called for on my part).
Okay folks, listen up! We have BEEN THERE, we have EATEN THERE, this very morning; and here is our report.
Scorecard, for openers: everyone was right. Prices IMO are very HIGH. Food quality, however, is also very HIGH, as is the atmosphere of the place itself.
Ambiance: couldn't be more different from Carol's. Lots of tables, newspapers all around, people on computers, people chatting, people eating, a real cafe atmosphere, American style. Nice greeting, smiling service. Very pleasant.
Prices: Yes, HIGH, but like in a cafe, you're paying for the table. You can sit as long as you like, anchored by just a coffee .
Food: Very good, actually. DO is a bug about coffee, he pronounced it excellent. My tea was a mint with something else --- from an organic outfit I never heard of before called Goldthread Herb. Don't know if it's local or not. DO 9 (El Exigente) tried a chocolate croissant (aka pain chocolat); I had a raisin croissant, my fave and touchstone. Both were comparable to Cakewalk (he gave Haven the edge, actually). The dill cheese biscuit on his breakfast sandwich was outstanding.
I can't imagine how they will manage in the summer rush: a good deal of the charm comes from the leisure to linger. And prices are high enough that I, for one, certainly can't afford to go on any kind of regular basis. (Then again, I live five minutes away, and home is where I mostly eat, the food's great and the service is fair ;-).
As for local suppliers, they have a list posted on a blackboard at the entrance. They include Equinox for greens, High Lawn Farms milk and cheese, Feather Ridge eggs, and I'm blanking on two posted others. Those get my stamp of approval!
Overall then, a pleasant surprise, a new resource, a splurge maybe, but a GOOD splurge.
(Oh, an unpleasant surprise, Joyous: we went over at lunchtime to try a pupusa at Richmond Bakery and --- it is closed! Kaput! Fermata! No sign one way or another, but kinda looks like it's done for. If you know anything different, let me know. Drat!)
Tsarina....I stopped by the Richmond Bakery this morning (much to my staffs appreciation, as I also bought donuts, freshly fried...yum.) Spoke with Vin (?), the owner. He apologizes and explained that as a small family run business that can't afford to hire any help, they open at 6 and close at 11 AM, as he & his wife are in at 2 AM to start baking. They stay open to 12 or 1 sometimes on Fri & Sat. He did say that if you arrive at 11 they'll stay open for you, or if you call to let them know you could get there near that time, they'll wait for you. Try them for breakfast sometime when you're around--and I will try Haven next time week when I'm in Lenox.
Thanks so much, Joyous! I had looked up pupusas on the Net and was all set to try them, so we were disappointed. We'll certainly get out for breakfast one morning soon and swing by. Bring your newspaper when you go to Haven and hang out for a while, if you have the time. That's playing to its strength.
We ate breakfast at Haven both Saturday and this morning.
First of all they open at 8:AM for breakfast.
We got there at 7:30amish on Saturday and many people were already trying to get into the place and many of them left and did not to return while we ate there.
I hade the dill busicut egg sandwich($7.95) with sausage($2.00 more).
The plate had a small salad on the plate along with very good home fries.
The biscuit was great!;I really liked the dill in the buscuit.
You'll have to decide if you would sepnd $.9.95 for this great egg breakfast sandwich.
She had Irish Oatmeal with poached pear($6.95) and she loved ever bite!
We bought about a dozen cookies and pastries(from $1.45/cookie to $4.95 for the lemon tart).
The goodies were all great----again,you'll have to decide if you'll pay that much for outstanding pastries.
On Sunday I had the Strata---a quiche of sorts with egg,cheese,and meats.
This was deleicious.
She had the egg sandwich that I had Saturday and she loved it.
The coffee is a huge,bottomless,cup for $2.25.
Like Tsarina said in her post above the prices are high but,imo,you get what you pay for and you get really good quality here for a higher than average price.
We'd go there as a special treat now and then but this is expensive for everyday breakfast.
Like Tasarina said you can linger there all day over coffee and you surely do not feel rushed in any way.
One thing that bothered us was that today when they opened at 8:00am on the dot they were not prepared to do business.
The menus were not ready,the specials board was not ready and the gal behind the counter,where you order the food,told us that several items would not be ready for a while since the kitchen was not ready to prepare these items just yet.
When you open you have to be ready to do business imo but the wait was worth the effort as the food was so good!
The ambiance was just like Tsarina descibed so I won't even add anything to her excellent and accurate report.
BTW---we did Rouge,in West Stockbridge, Friday night and I'd reccommend this place to anyone,any time!!!
I ordered the Rib Eye Steak and I never knew you could get a rib eye so large.
Garlic potatoes,and one of the best bartenders around ,along with some really nice pople we chatted with throught dinner at the bar,made this another memorable experience.
Saturday afternoon cocktails at Sullivan Station,in Lee,Ma, was wonderful also.
The owner is a class lady who was running the bar and chatting with her was a wonderful time.
I can't wait to try their food ;their dining room was packed from the time I got there to the time I left there and everyone coming out of the dining room was saying how good the food was.
We ate at Chez Nous on Saturday night and this place is so consistently outstanding with the best service we've ever had anywhere that words cannot say enough about the place.
The Short Ribs were to die for and the family had Seafood Risotto and they loved every bite.
The Cassoulet was also first-class.
This is truly one of the best reataurants in the Berkshires.