Housy Rising 2

Hangin’ in Housy

Have you been to Housy? Housy (pronounced who-zee), a/k/a  Housatonic, is a gem of  a neighborhood that’s often overlooked by Berkshires weekenders & visitors. Housatonic is a village within Great Barrington that was formed in the early 1800s around textile & paper mills. The Housatonic River runs through the center of Housy and magnificent old brick mill buildings dot its landscape. You owe it to yourself to at least take a ramble through Housatonic (on Route 183, just off of Route 7, in Great Barrington), & experience it’s blend of natural splendor, the beautiful architecture & local arts vibe.

Housy Water Tower

Iconic

And, while you’re in Housy, be sure to stop in at these great spots:

Berkshire Mountain Bakery

Housy BMB

Berkshire Mountain Bakery (“BMB”), located at 367 Park St. (Rte 183), is one of the best bakeries – anywhere.  If you don’t believe me, stop in and try any of their breads – all made from grains milled right at the bakery. BMB also does amazing croissants & baked goods & has great seasonal homemade soups (my favorite is their butternut squash). Their chocolate bread is to die for & I love a special bread they make during holiday season. Aptly named Holiday Bread, it’s studded with dried fruits & has marzipan (almond paste) in the center. I like to toast it and then spread the marzipan over the warm bread. Nothing like a slice with a cup of hot coffee, in front of the fireplace, on a Berkshires winter morning.

BMB also makes a wonderful assortment of home made take-away pizzas that bake quickly in your home oven (they’ll cook them there too, if you prefer).  We have a tradition of calling in our take-away pizza order as we’re finishing up a day on the slopes at Ski Butternut – so it’s ready for pick up when we swing by on our way home. The pizzas barely make it out of our oven before they’re devoured by our kids and weekend guests.

Housie Market Cafe

Housy Market 2

Housie Market Cafe opened recently at 226 Pleasant Street & we just love it. They’ve got awesome meals & coffee & this place has a genuine, local vibe. They also sell staples such as milk, eggs, bread, etc. One of my favorite things there is the peanut butter & kimche sandwich. Yes, you read that right – peanut butter & kimche!  It’s the perfect mix of salty/spicy & sweet in a sandwich pressed on the grill & served warm. The kimche is from Hosta Hill  – made just a stone’s throw away, in Housatonic – & is some of the best I’ve had, anywhere. Housie Market also has plenty of more traditional items on its breakfast & lunch menu. And, as a bonus, they serve wine & beer too.

Brick House Pub

Housy Brick House

Brick House Pub, located at 425 Park Street North (Rte 183), is far more than a pub. Sure, they’ve got lots of awesome local craft beers on tap, but they also have a nice menu with great pub food including really good burgers & pizza. It’s a great place for a casual meal – even if you aren’t drinking.  And, they have live music most weekends (check their website or call for the schedule).

Pleasant & Main

Pleasant & Main, located at 1063 Main Street, recently opened in the former Jack’s Grill space, with former Manhattan restaurateur Craig Bero at the helm. The decor is super cool & they have a great breakfast & lunch menu. Pleasant & Main serves community suppers Thursday-Saturday.  The food is good & is very reasonably priced. Call or check their website for the nightly menu.  And, make sure to order the crepes for dessert. Our kids live for them.

Enjoy Housy!

 

 

Prarie Whale Front

Hanging in Great Barrington’s NoRo

Over the last year or so, NoRo – the northern section of Great Barrington’s Main Street has really taken off, with the opening of some super cool businesses & a really great restaurant.  I’m referring to the section of Main Street that’s just north of Rosseter Street (get it – NoRo?). To me, NoRo, with its new, fun & creative businesses truly embodies what’s been termed the New Berkshires.  Here are 3 of my favorite places to go in NoRo:

Prairie Whale Restaurant

If you’re looking for awesome farm-to-fork dining, Prairie Whale Restaurant, located at 178 Main Street, Great Barrington, is your place. Mark Firth (co-founder of Diner, Marlow & Sons & Marlow & Daughters, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) & wife Bettina Schwartz opened Prairie Whale in 2013 (it was originally called Bell & Anchor). Prairie Whale has been a huge draw to locals & weekenders alike. The menu has so many great great choices & includes awesome meat, poultry, seafood & vegetarian options. You can’t get more locavore than Prairie Whale. Many of the vegetables come directly from the restaurant’s own vegetable garden (when you’re there, walk out back & check it out) & from Mark & Bettina’s farm in nearby Monterey.  And, yes, they’re even raising their own lambs & pigs now. Our personal menu favorites are the Brick Chicken, Duck Confit, Burgers, Tuna Tartare & Kale Salad. Because everything is sourced locally, the seasonal menu changes frequently. The other night we had the crostini with local goat cheese, mint & roasted peaches as an appetizer – off the charts delicious! Their salads are also super fresh & tasty. And, they’ve got a great bar with seating that offers a full range of wine & cocktails along with several locally brewed craft beers on tap – including Wandering Star Brewing Company & Glass Bottom Brewery.

Prairie Whale Front

Farm to Fork in NoRo

What we especially love about Prairie Whale is that its got a super fun vibe. There’s plenty of outdoor seating, a ping pong table & yes, corn hole! (If you don’t know what the heck corn hole is, you’ll have to pay a visit & learn. No cheating & checking Wikipedia!).  We always bump into friends at the bar, some of them the very farmers who supply the restaurant’s produce or local artists who are part of the Berkshires burgeoning art scene. And, Prairie Whale also has live music some evenings (check the link above to confirm) by great local band The Lucky Five.

Griffin

When I first walked in to Griffin, located at 177 Main Street (across from Prairie Whale), I was super excited to see such a fun, stylish shop right here in Great Barrington. Owners Connie Griffin & partner (in life & business) Paul Giroux feature so many unique clothing items for adults & kids, great shoes & super cool, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. They’ve also got a nice vinyl collection for sale. And, while you’re there, be sure to check out their art gallery next door to the shop.

Griffin 4

Great one-of-a-kind clothing at Griffin

Griffin 3

NoRo’s Griffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LabSpace

What’s amazed me about the Berkshires since moving here is the number of amazing local artists with their fun, funky & often thought provoking work. In the past, the work of these artists was rarely exhibited or sold within the Berkshires. I’m happy to report that Susan Jennings & Slink Moss co-owners of LabSpace, located at 177 Main Street (across from Prairie Whale) are helping to change that with their new gallery, LabSpace. You owe it to yourself to stop into Lab Space – where you can admire work by super talented local artists like Huckleberry Delsignore or to catch one of their special events (check website above for schedule).

LabSPace

LabSpace’s Current Exhibit

See you out in NoRo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meatballs 2

Great Berkshires Restaurants & Bars for Visiting Day Weekend

Some of you will be visiting your kids for visiting day this weekend at one of the many sleep-away camps in & around the Berkshires. Over the last several weeks, I’ve received numerous requests from sleep-away camp parents for Berkshires lodging & restaurant recommendations.  I’ve compiled a quick list of some of the restaurants here. Sure, there are plenty more great places to eat & drink here – but I wanted to give you a quick few in the event you’re in a jam & still haven’t booked reservations.

Great Barrington

Master Mixologist Walter

Walter: Allium’s Master Mixologist

Our go-to, favorite restaurant in the Berkshires is Allium, located at 42 Railroad St. in Great Barrington.  The food is locally sourced (i.e. “farm-to-table”) & is off the charts delicious. The nice thing about Allium’s menu is that it has rotating small plates, in addition to normal size entrees – so you can easily share a bunch of different dishes with your table. My wife & I just ate there the other night & among our usual small plates of fried pickled red onions with garlic aoli; farro with snap peas, radishes, pistachios, pecorino, arugula, basil, mint; & fish tacos with almond romesco & lime slaw – we had the striped bass.  The fish was prepared beautifully with a super tasty sauce on the side & the accompanying locally harvested carrots were unbelievably sweet & succulent. The vibe at Allium is really fun & the service is warm & attentive. Allium also has a terrific bar with master mixologist Walter at the helm. In the event Allium’s tables are all booked up by the time you call, it’s also nice to have dinner at the bar.

Egremont

John Andrews

John Andrews

One of our favorite restaurants in Egremont is John Andrews Restaurant, located at 224 Hillsdale Rd. (it also fronts Rte 23). John Andrews is another awesome Berkshires farm-to-table restaurant & always serves inventive, yet straightforward, outstanding cuisine. The owner & chef, Dan Smith, is so talented & the menu changes weekly – featuring the freshest, in-season produce from local farms. If you like lamb & the Berle Farm lamb is on the menu – be sure to order it! No matter what the style, Dan Smith is a man who knows knows how to prepare lamb! John Andrews also has an extensive selection of wines, cocktails & craft beers.

West Stockbridge

Truc

Truc Orient Express

One of the first things we sought out when we moved here from the NYC suburbs was good, authentic Asian food.  And, we found it, right in our own neighborhood, at Truc Orient Express, located an awesome Vietnamese restaurant located at 3 Harris Street in West Stockbridge (coming from Great Barrington, when you get to Main St. in W. Stockbridge, turn left onto Depot Street. Take a left into the driveway just past Rouge Restaurant & you’ll see Truc’s restaurant straight back). The food here is delicious & authentic & the co-owner, Louie, couldn’t be a sweeter guy.

Stockbridge

We love eating at Widow Bigham’s Tavern at the Red Lion Inn – located at 30 Main Street.  If you’re up for something more formal, the main dining room at the Red Lion Inn is also always a treat. Chef Brian Alberg’s creative & delicious creations never disappoint. Click here for my earlier post on Bigham’s Tavern. And, when your done eating, be sure to head downstairs for a nightcap at The Lion’s Den, which always has great live music.  If you happen to be here when Sun Mountain Fiddler is playing, get their early.  These guys are super talented, loads of fun & always pack the house.

Becket

Dream Away Lodge

Dream Away Lodge

For a one of a kind Berkshires dining & drinking experience, head to The Dream Away Lodge located at 1342 County Road in Becket. The food is great, the decor super funky & the place chock full of music history. In fact, back in 1975, members of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue—including Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez & Allen Ginsberg—dropped by the former speakeasy & brothel & ended up staying all day making music. The Dream Away is also a great place to grab drinks & hang out with  friends. They have an outdoor bar with a large firepit, plenty of seating & they usually have live music on weekends.  Check here for their live music schedule.

Lenox

Brava Wine Bar

Brava Wine Bar

Alta Restaurant & Wine Bar, located at 34 Church St. in Lenox is always great. Their menu has a wide variety of dishes, the ambience is really nice & they make great specialty cocktails.  And, Brava Wine Bar, located at 27 Housatonic Street is another great choice for dinner or drinks – with an awesome selection of hard to find craft beers on tap & lots of great wines by the glass.

So…have a great visiting day & an even better dinner afterwards!