Berkshire Trip Report
For a number of years I have been a "taker" when visiting Chowyhound. I have learned where to go and why I should go to so many interesting restaurants that I may have missed without Chowhound. Now it is my turn to give back- -
A dining experience to me, should be an enjoyable adventure that touches all your senses like the play at Shakespeare & Company, the Sol LeWitt retrospective at MassMoca or the wonderful exhibit of Georgia O'Keefe at the Clark. So let's begin with help from previous posts on Chowhound
THE CAKEWALK BAKERY in Lee - only opened this April, this is a busy busy little shop and for good reason. Stopped around 3 p.m. for a Sandwich and Salad to take to that evening concert at Tanglewood. The multigrain bread made the roastbeef sandwich something special, the Berkshire Blue Salad of mixed greens, tossed with roasted walnuts chopped tomato and Berkshire Blue was a special hit because of the homemade balsamic vinaigrette (owner Verena would not give out the receipe when we came back the next day for more of just the dressing). By 3 p.m. the bakery was pretty much out of all baked goods for the day so I had to return at 7:30 a.m. the next morning for the Cinnamon Rose pastry (croissant dough stretched out, coated with butter and sinammon sugar and roller up and baked in a popover pan )to die for). Get there before 1 p.m. or your out of luck in selecting such wonderful bites.
CAFE ADAM - Previous posts have givin this small but friendly place good marks and our visit didn't let us down. Located on Rt 7 north of Great Barrington. The service made us feel we had come home and the wait folks were really happy that we had arrived. The space is attractive, the service attentive and the food prepared by someone who cared not only how it tasted but how it was presented (smoked salmon with sliced avacado and toasted sesame seeds on bread from the Berkshire Bakery just down the road, excellent). I tried a wonderful Croque Monseigneur. The menu was simple but creative and the food delicious.
JOHN ANDREW - Last year this was outstanding. This year we went on a Sunday evening and I think the owner/chef had the night off. First they were out of the crisp sweetbreads I had last year so I tried the asian grilled calamari (so tough I could hardly cut or chew the rings) and the salad of fried oysters served on mixed greens with an anchovy mustard Vinaigrette, with Parmesan Crisp was just OK with much too much vinaigrette. For a slow night (only 3 other parties in the back dining room) the service was unattentive. All in all this year JA only gets a "C+".
ONCE UPON A TABLE - We had planned going to Rouge in West Stockbridge for dinner however I found that members of Chowhound had given it mixed reviews (i.e. high prices, poor service, selective menu depending on where on happened to sit and silly sounding menu options) I selected OUAT instead. What a find!!! From the moment we arrived (greeted like family) this small (11 table) interesting restaurant was a feast for all senses. The owner and wait staff just never stopped smiling and making all diners feel like they were family. The menu was not your typical (chicken,veal,steak, salmon, tuna,etc) but showed a creativity seldom found in places today. Although crab cakes were not on the dinner menu for a appitiezer it was OK, they fixed up a plate for me anyhow and what a rich experience it was. I thought I had never had such a lovely crab cake (with a lightly dressed fresh mesclun green salad) before. My partner tried the Pot Pie of Escargot with butter, shallots, garlic and fresh herbs served under a puffed pastry. (she used her finger to get everybit of the sauce remaining in the dish) This was followed by Pecan Crusted Rainbow Trout roasted with honey lemon butter and served with roasted potatoes (out of this world) and green beans (not canned). You could tell that the chef not only loved preparing this meal but loved making it attractive on the plate. Alan O'Bient, the owner has also bought the Pillars in New Lebanon, NY (just west of Pittsfield) from the German couple who retired a couple of years ago. If it is anything like OUAT I have to try it on my next visit. The Pillars was great before but now it must be outstanding. I need to check Chowhound posting to find out.
All in all we ate well on this week's trip and enjoyed a feast for the senses no matter where we went, saw or did. Thanks Chowhound members!!!
A big thank you for the recommendation of the cinnamon rose at Cakewalk Cafe in Lee. I am a baker and devoted pastry hound, and have had a cinnamon bun craving for months, 'cept didn't want some gigantic super sweet 1200 calorie thing. Have satiated it to date with apple cider donuts, but that's a whole different ball game.
Finally went and tried the CR at Cakewalk with a friend this morning on way to Lee outlets. It was wonderful! Light, eggy croissant type layered rolled dough with light cinnamon sugar filling and dusting. And the caramelized stuff at the bottom that crisps up with the butter is amazing. Probably a good thing I'm not regularly in Lee, or I'd want one daily. Very pleasant woman at the counter says this is their biggest selling item.
By the way, the tea was loose tea and very good too.
Was slightly confused by your post. Am a long time Berkshire resident. Cakewalk Bakery has been around for a while. Perhaps there are new owners, but the place with that name has existed for a while. I agree with your assessment of OUAT, though I've only had lunch there. As to Rouge, am a long time fan. The process is not that complicated. Back dining room, traditional menu. Bar and newer area, tapas, bar and tradtional menu. Quality food, and they finally seem to have a bartender that might be an adequate replacement for Brad.
Now, about the Pillars, which is right in my neighborhood. The Bock's might have been of german heritage somewhere along the line, but were not notably German. And the restaurant now is NOTHING like it was then, despite an effort to continue some of Paul Bocks notable specialties. The sauces aren't even in the ballpark, and the mushrooms beignet were tough with an almost inedible coating. Can not recommend at all (actually, there's no dining establishment I would recommend in New Lebanon; Rouge comes to my rescue despite the 20 minute trip.0