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Jul 25, 2012 03:11 PM

dinner in Northampton Sat night for 2 adventurous diners?

Heading east to concert Sat night and would like a yummy, interesting dinner.

Paul and Elizabeth's sounds healthy -- which is appealing -- but dull. Rice and steamed veggies? I can make that in my sleep!
I would prefer a restaurant with more of a haute cuisine focus.

Eastside Grill sounds good but no reservations on Sat eve, and would worry about making an 8 pm concert if they're busy. Or should I not worry? Or should I not go? Their menu is so very extensive it makes me think like a Greek Diner: all mediocre. Or should I rethink that?

Amanouz Cafe -- Moroccan and Middle Eastern sounds interesting. Is it good?
Anyone try their tangines or have other recommendations?

Love all ethnic and will settle for less than swank decor if the food rocks! TIA.

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  1. East Side is indeed mediocre , though crowded
    P and E's is much more interesting than you make it sound, excellent fish.
    Amanouz is good, very casual. definitely not haute
    people are liking Hinge, and it is right near both the Calvin and Pearl Street.

    1. Ibiza has wonderful tapas, some traditional, most new and adventurous. Wine is excellent also. Right near the Calvin.

      6 Replies
      1. re: BerkshireTsarina

        Oh, really, tsarina? we had good wine and very uneven food there and horrible service!
        Maybe we'll try again, but I would worry about making a specific concert time.

        1. re: magiesmom

          We've gone three times now, always fine on all counts; but we haven't gone on a Sat eve, which I always avoid when I can.

          1. re: BerkshireTsarina

            Ibiza? Please! I have been three times and the food was pitifully bad. I will never step foot in there again.
            I'd suggest Mosaic, a short walk from the Calvin on Masonic St. Or give Jakes a try. They are
            right next door to the Calvin. They are starting up pre-concert dinners and the food should be really good. I looked at the menu and am excited. It's a fine little breakfast/lunch spot. too

            1. re: Big Fat Moe

              Moe, can you say what you like about Mosaic or Jakes? Thanks.

              1. re: NYchowcook

                Mosaic is owned by the same people as Ammounez. It is a pleasant restaurant, airy and fresh. You can sit inside, in the back patio on or the front porch overlooking the street. The food is Moroccan/Mediteranean. Wonderfully prepared salads, soups, and tangines with special sandwiches and stews. Just a pleasant, low-cost delicious place to eat. You order at the counter but the food is brought to your table.
                Jakes has very well made breakfasts and lunches. Jakes has been there for 30 years and the new owners, two local guys in their 20's are doing an excellent job. Basic chow, creatively conceived and well prepared. You can't lose with either spot.

                1. re: Big Fat Moe

                  New Jakes is indeed well run and good food.

      2. Green Street Cafe...not really ethnic...but always very good, and reasonably healthy.


        I was going to link you to a menu, and instead I found this. Green Street has been the best restaurant in town ever since I started going to Northhampton on business in 2002. They were local/vegetable focused before everybody had to say those buzzwords. Smith college administrators are absolute scum, IMO.

        2 Replies
        1. re: danna

          Yes - Green St.'s loss was tragic for a lot of us. Wish I'd eaten there more often.

          As to the OP, I was very disappointed in Eastside last time I was there. You might get lucky with a few dishes, but it's not quite the same as a few years back. I've been to Ibiza once - had a rather mixed selection of tapas. I tried to go back during Restaurant Week on a Tuesday and they couldn't get us in, so that speaks at least a little to its popularity. You might look at the Sierra Grille, right down the street from Eastside. They have an excellent selection of appetizers (almost more like tapas because you could make a meal of them) and always an interesting special or two.

          P&E's is pretty good - they do very interesting things with fish & other seafood. I usually stick with the tempura fish & chips, which isn't too exotic, but it's delicious and it's enough food to fill me up & have some left over for the dog.

          1. re: edub23

            yes, sierra grille is a good thought, and they take reservations, I think.

        2. Thoughts on Zen? We're going to the Calvin theater, so it would be nice to walk from dinner.

          6 Replies
          1. re: NYchowcook

            You can walk to the Calvin from any restaurant in Northampton - it's a very compact area.

            As for Zen, I'll first announce a disclaimer - my daughter works there, so I'm biased, but I think it's pretty good. It's a little like the Greek Diner comment you made earlier - maybe they try to do too many Asian styles, and nothing is spectacular. The sushi rolls are tasty but pretty standard stuff. I had a curry noodle dish last time I was there, and I thought the noodles were too heavy - I was expecting vermicelli and these were more like soba noodles. Still, it was tasty. If you have time, I would recommend you stroll by and look at the specials posted outside the restaurant. You shouldn't have any trouble getting a table there, even on a Saturday night.


            1. re: NYchowcook

              Zen is the essence of overpriced mediocrity in my opinion. You are much better off across the street at Amanouz, which has simple but tasty food.
              I am very interested in the small plates Jake's preconcert dinners too; the buzz is good and they are essentially IN the Calvin building. That's what I would do.

              1. re: magiesmom

                I just wanted ot add that after the show you can get a really wonderful locally made frozen yogurt at GoBerry diagonally across Main St from the Calvin.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  True, but when I'm in Northampton and I want a cold dessert, the only choice for me is Herrells

                  1. re: jimp

                    yes, herrells is wonderful. But this si another choice, surprisingly good.

              2. re: NYchowcook

                Zen is awful. "Asian" food conceived for gringos with no palates nor experience with the variety of Asian cuisines.

              3. Now that I actually read the original post, I have to add that there is no "haute cuisine" in Northampton. The closest was Green Street, though that was more classic bistro than a Michelin-gunning gastronomy restaurant. There really isn't a high cuisine in the Valley - the "highest" you get now are the New American places like Night Kitchen and the bistro in Amherst.

                Northampton has sort of settled on "upscale" pub fare (Dirty Truth being the most obvious, and copied model) and mediocre "ethnic" food (like the aforementioned Zen).

                6 Replies
                1. re: fame da lupo

                  I used to really like Night Kitchen but we had one of the worst restaurant meals of our lives there in the Spring.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    i also had a fairly dull dinner experience there in the recent past, but took advantage of their new weekend lunch menu, since it's so nice to sit out on the patio, and it was quite good. this was a month or so ago, and there weren't many people there so i dunno if they've kept it up. but they had a small selection of things like burgers, salads and the like in the $10 - $15 range, and it was a wonderful way to laze through a sunday afternoon.

                    1. re: fatheryod

                      that's good to know. The patio is wonderful but our last meal was so bad ( not dull, really bad), so I am loath to return.

                      1. re: magiesmom

                        yeah, i hear you. for the price. my last dinner there was a disappointment, but that was a while ago.i'll probably give it another shot this fall. as fame da lupo so frequently points out. places around here are rarely consistent.
                        but i just love the setting out there. i used to have a record store on the second floor of the bookmill back in the '90s and i became quite attuned to the sound of the water playing over the rocks. i still head back there every few months to check it out. when our kids were little we whiled away many a rainy weekend prowling through the stacks at the store and reading aloud quietly in the little porch, which then was just a self-serve coffee set-up.

                        1. re: fatheryod

                          Well one thing is consistent(ly good): the curry chicken sandwich at Lady Killigrew. Mmm.