Joshua Needleman makes his own chocolate from scratch in Lenox. Dark chocolate caramelized hazlenuts. Melting bars of ganache flavored with raspberry or spice. Chocolate Springs is half kitchen and a wizard’s lair. And it is also a café.READ MORE
Would you like blueberry pancakes with eggs from the farm across the way … or fresh sourdough and olive oil, while the owner of the Italian restaurant stops at your table to read aloud from his favorite collection of Henry Beston’s stories about living in the country?
When I’m wandering back roads for story interviews, I want someone local to tell me where they go to relax on a sunny afternoon. I’m looking for a bohemian sandwich shop or a restaurant in a hay barn, where the chef cooks from scratch and talks with regulars and the woman at the cafe counter recommends science fiction.
So while I’m exploring, I’ll let you know where I’m going.
In a cafe or a corner shop, I like places with a sense of flavor and skill and humor — places that feel as though they belong where they are. So I’m sharing some with you. In the Berkshires, restaurants and cafés can draw in influences from Brooklyn and Cambridge — and Malaysia and Paris — and pick parsley out of the garden.
This is not a comprehensive view of every restaurant in the region — these are places I’ve come to and want to come back to. Berkshire restaurants and cafes, bakeries and coffee shops, farm meals and fine dining … Here are places I’ve enjoyed on suny days. Some of them I’d happily drive an hour to visit, and all of them I can’t find anywhere else.
Restaurants & cafésfilter by location or type
Croissants sit on the counter next to chocolate tortes with mint whipped cream … Claire Raposo came home to the Berkshires to open the Lost Lamb, but she learned her patisserie in Paris.READ MORE
A college hangout and an anchor on Spring Street for decades, Tunnel City roasts its own coffee and has a loyal following — it roasts its own blends locally in the renovated Norad Mill in North Adams.READ MORE
Even the name swings like speakeasy jazz. Dottie’s Coffee Lounge is a classic. It’s neighborhood hangout with fairground lights and vintage clothing and local artwork on the walls.READ MORE
Moresi & Associates has drawn more than 40 local businesses to the renovated Norad Mill — artists and artisans, coffee and local wines, vintage records, yarn shops and even rocks and minerals.READ MORE
The Dream Away Lodge is a road house, a locally sourced restaurant, a lounge and a labyrinth … its a 200-year-old farmhouse on the edge of October Mountain State Forest in Becket, and it has been a center of live music for decades.READ MORE
Sarah Real and Mike Dell’Aquila brew their own beers and ales to serve through their taproom in Pittsfield.READ MORE
or more than 40 years, Richard Bourdon has been baking European-style sourdough breads in an old brick building that once belonged to the Rising Paper Mill.READ MORE
You can stop in for ice cream or farmstead cheese and sit at a picnic table, looking across the field where the young calves are out to pasture — High Lawn Farm in Lee now has its own creamery store.READ MORE
Walk through the park and cross the bridge over Hemlock Brook, and you’ll see a kind of courtyard in old New England forms. The buildings run together in red barn and clapboard and stone. And they are all new. The Williams Inn opened in its Spring Street incarnation in summer […]READ MORE
Andrew Crane and Nick Whalen have opened the Shire Breu-Hous in the Stationery Factory in downtown Dalton and turned a corner of the old mill into a restaurant and microbrewery — they have a dozen brews on tap.READ MORE
An old brick mill in the heart of Crane & Company territory has been renovated into space for arts and small businesses. It has a mainstage with professional sound and lighting, and often hosts live music on Saturday nights.READ MORE
From 1783 to 1960, a Shaker community lived and farmed here. Today the village is a living history museum known for its Round Stone Barn, with farm animals and CSA gardens, art and craft, and dinners and music.READ MORE
The old barn at the Egremont Village Inn gives refuge on a windy night. Tables gather around an informal stage with a piano. And concerts, comedy and karaoke have been drawing a community here at the Egremont Barn for pub comfort food and music.READ MORE
The Red Lion Inn has stood centrally on Main Street since 1773, when it served as a stage coach between Boston and Albany. The old clapboard building has a history going back to the Revolution, and today it brings locals and visitors to its restaurants and shop of goods from local artists and artisans.READ MORE
Steam Cafe is a cheerful place, and the menu is pure comfort food — soups and dumplings, steamed buns, spring rolls. A bowl of Thai noodle soup comes in a generous portion, ample for many meals, mild on the spice and rich with chicken and vegetables.READ MORE
Pleasant and Main looks like a cafe grown in an antique shop, in its quiet corner of Housatonic, and its menu is bright and unexpected. Plate-sized pancakes with cherries, eggs Florentine, country fare with a European undertone.READ MORE
Mark Firth was a restauranteur in Brooklyn before he came to the Berkshires. Out here he has raised his own pigs for his own kitchen. He also turns to local farms for fruits and vegetables and meats.READ MORE
French toast from sourdough chocolate bread, with local maple syrup; cherry pecan French toast with sweetened goat cheese and honey … imagine the possibilities. Aura Whitman, former owner of Café Reva, has joined forces with Berkshire Mountain Bakery’s pizzeria and café — and they are forces of nature.READ MORE
Up at Brewhaha, Barry Garton smiles when he hears about the farm-to-table movement as a new phenomenon, because he has been cooking that way since the 1970s — local and homestyle, with fair trade coffee, soups and omelettes and his signature muffins — pumpkin chip, chocolate banana and more.READ MORE
Public Eat + Drink is the kind of place that has purple potato chips on the menu, and homemade ice cream sandwiches — and local hamburgers so thick they can last for two meals. It’s the kind of place that will be crowded to spilling over at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday in a soaking rain. The word has gotten out.READ MORE