Good Eats in Western Mass.

The most important part of any long trip is, of course, where you wind up eating. I brought lunch to school from Tuesday onward and ate breakfast at the hotel (free! woo!), and we went out to dinner every night. Because I know you want to know, here's the scoop.

  • Sunday: An Indian place in Amherst; I don't recall the name. It was decent; portions were a little small and flavors weren't as intense as I like. I think I've been spoiled by some of the great Indian places around Boston. Dessert by Ben & Jerry's.
  • Monday lunch: A sandwich from Tailgate Picnic in Hadley. Big and tasty.
  • Monday dinner: Amherst Brewing Company in Amherst. We didn't have any beer, but the big dinner salad specials were good. Dessert by Bart's Homemade.
  • Tuesday: Bela in Northampton. Absolutely delicious vegetarian restaurant.
  • Wednesday: Woodbridge's in Hadley. (Yuck.) Dessert by Herrell's in Northampton.
  • Thursday: Bueno y Sano — the Anna's Taqueria of Northampton.

Tuesday and Wednesday I got coffee at the campus place in the library, which was decent. Thursday it occurred to me that on the way from the municipal parking lot to the campus I passed by a place called "The Thirsty Mind," which is a coffee and wine bar. I got my coffee there on Thursday and Friday. They made the best iced vanilla latte I have ever had in my entire life.

The worst meal I had was hands-down at Woodbridge's. The place is a pub/tavern kind of place. This is not particularly friendly to vegetarians (I was the lone carnivore amongst the ladies I hung out with after class), but they had vegan paella on their menu. Eva and Emily were excited, because this isn't something you find often. (And because the only other vegetarian option was a Gardenburger.) I got one of that night's specials, which was a pasta dish with shrimp.
Well, the paella turned out to be brown rice and frozen vegetables in broth. I didn't taste it, but Eva and Emily were not pleased and barely ate any. My dinner turned out to be shrimp cooked in no seasoning, tossed with canned diced tomatoes and juice, canned California black olives and linguini. Call me citified, but I expected to get something with fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives and the "light cream sauce" promised by the menu. I didn't complain to the waitress about mine because I just didn't (though I should have spoken up — I'm too polite!) but Eva and Emily managed to get one of the paellas taken off the bill. To add insult to injury, it occurred to me the next day that I think the price I was charged for that meal was higher than what was listed on the menu, but I didn't catch it at the time. D'oh!

Contrast that with our meal at Bela in Northampton, where I ate a pasta dish that doesn't even compare with the one I got at Woodbridge's. There was spaghetti, chevre, fresh tomatoes, asparagus and some well-done seasoning. It was so totally delicious and worth every penny (of which there were fewer needed to pay than the dish at Woodbridge's). That is something I will attempt to replicate at some point in time, though I haven't the foggiest idea how they seasoned it, other than "lightly, but well." Yuuuummmm . . . .

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2 thoughts on “Good Eats in Western Mass.

  1. Pete’s Drive-In on Route 9 in Hadley and Webster’s Fish Hook on Damon Road in Northampton are two of my favorites in Hampshire County, along with Spoleto, Pizza Paradiso, India House, Viva Fresh Pasta Company, Mulino’s Trattoria, East Side Grill…the Northampton list alone is enough to fill several pages.

    Western Mass. needs its own Zagat.

  2. I’m surprised that you listed the Amherst Brewing Company so favorably for their salad. You must have been their on a good day. Generally, their claim to fame is a bunch of pool tables and a ping pong table. The service, especially at night, is snooty at best and, at worst, one should expect long waits for refills on their drinks. The food is uninspired. I once had a buffalo burger that ended up being just a dried-out meat patty of no special merit. Chicken fingers, there, tend to be soggy because the cooks let it sit under a lamp for a long while before the servers finally get to it.

    But the salads! This is the one thing I hear people complain about most.

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