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Northampton, MA


Susan
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German place....it's the Student Prince in Holyoke!

Good thought, I've heard of that place, wherever it is, but that's not it. The place I'm thinking of is something I ran into while killing time driving around the south end of the Quabbin reservoir. I expect it was on Route 9 someplace down there, maybe west of the Quabbin. This looked like a poorly converted roadhouse, a bit desolate, and as we passed (it was around 5:30 PM) a small party of very elderly people were shuffling in. I like places like that.

Anyway - is the Student Prince good? It's hard to find any kind of good German food, and I pass through Springfield occasionally.

--L. Rap

Blog and recipes at: Eating Away

Let the lamp affix its beam.

The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

--Wallace Stevens

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S Prince is great.

Also keep in mind Sienna in S Deerfield, and if heading north to Brattleboro, TJ Buckley's-I assume the chef is still celebrating local and small and informal elegance-among others..........

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  • 9 months later...

I've been in the Valley for 6 months now and feel I should report back on a few experiences (mostly excellent). Unfortunately, having a toddler makes eating out a lot less frequent than we'd prefer but here are a few thoughts. Tell me what I am missing (especially on the cheaper side of things)?

One time experiences:

Best food and dining experience (BY FAR): TJ Buckley's in Brattleboro. In one word: wow. Lovely atmosphere. Service was impeccable. The action in the kitchen was so perfectly orchestrated it was more like watching a ballet than a retail kitchen. And the food, oh the food, AND the presentation. I don't remember everything we ate (a few weeks ago, sorry) but the highlights were the pate appetizer, a delicious filet (which I rarely order since it's usually so blah, this was anything but blah), salmon, and a delicious trout appetizer. This is so worth the trip from Northampton if you haven't tried this place. WARNING: Get reservations. As best I could tell, they could seat about 18 at a time. $75/each (pre-tip) for 3 course meal + coffee + 2 bottles wine amg 6 of us. Even though it was a major splurge it was well worth every penny.

Also, the Metropolis wine bar in Brattleboro was really cute for a pre-dinner drink.

Green Street - Very good food and a lovely atmosphere (cellist playing on the lower level, which was beautiful). Food highlights: house-cured salmon app, goat cheese & asparagus tart, bouillabaise, & the rhubarb compote dessert. $50/each (post-tip) for 3 apps, 4 entrees, 3 desserts, coffee and 2 glasses of wine.

Blue Heron - Good, not great.

Osaka - good sushi but I've only been once (not on the same cost/food level as the 2 places mentioned above)

More frequent experiences:

Cha Cha Cha - Taken over by owners of India Hse and I love the food here now (liked it before too). Maybe a bit more expensive than before but the food it better in my opinion. I love the Indian-inspired items (try the Kathi Rolls). If you haven't been since they've taken over, I'd recommend going, and have a mango lassi while you're there.

Woodstar Cafe - Most reliably good lunch that I've found. Love their bread and my favorite sandwiches are: North End (salami, prosciutto....), Thunderbolt (Roast beef...) and Henry's Garden (hummus wrap).

Sylvester's - The good breakfast place that all college towns need (but not as good as Elmo's in Carrboro, NC [for any UNC grads out there])

Speaking of roast beef... Serio's - yummy

Veracruzana - Good mexican food (esp. the fish tacos).

Herrell's - hmm, ice cream. Get the micro-chip if it's on the menu.

India House - I've only had take-out (remember the toddler) but it's been excellent. My favorite dish is probably their Bagaan Bharta (pardon the horrible spelling).

Average:

Spoleto's Express - overpriced, underwhelming food. Makes me wonder if it's worth going to Spoleto proper.

Absolutely, horrifically horrific (redundancy intended):

Casa de Nana in Springfield (near Eastside Mall) - Don't know why we went, won't be back. Here's how bad it was, the guacomole and tortilla chips were terrible. You get better guac out of a vacuum pack from Costco.

Still have to try:

Circa (it was closed for a private party when we had a baby sitter, will try again when we have the sitter lined up)

Table 9

Paradiso (still looking for great pizza)

In addition to pizza, I still need help finding good bagels/bialys & chinese food.

Special interest - BBQ-

I've tried Holy Smokes (several times), Smokin Lil's (several times) and Bub's (once). Having spent a bunch of years in NC, I'm most interested in pulled pork. In my opinion, Holy Smokes is the best of the 3 in this category, probably b/c their sauce lets the flavor of the meat come through the best. Lil's and Bub's are certainly passable though. I'm pleasantly surprised by the bbq options up here.

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"Tell me what I am missing (especially on the cheaper side of things)?

Paradiso (still looking for great pizza)

In addition to pizza, I still need help finding good bagels/bialys & chinese food."

I know more about the Amherst area than NoHo, but my husband grew up in the area and liked Paradiso. However, until they opened one in Providence, my husband insisted on regular trips to Antonio's. It really is the best - and they do a huge by the slice business, so you can try a bunch of different kinds before committing to whole pies.

As for Chinese food, Panda East in Amherst is pretty good - they actually do decent sushi as well. I forget the name, but the Chinese place on Main Street by the Black Sheep is pretty good as well. Avoid the place on Route 9 near NoHo with ice cream place in back and Hunan Garden in Amherst at all costs.

Edited by Elizabeth Clauser (log)
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I've had so much fun reading this thread! My (now) husband and I went to UMASS and loved to dine out (we saved our pennies for good meals!). When we were in school we became very close friends with a couple in NOHO who taught us so much about great food. We still get out there to see them a couple of times a year and always eat way too much and extremely well.

I think the VERY best Chinese food in the Valley (and among the best I've ever had) is from Amherst Chinese. They grow their own vegetables, everything is seasonal and incredibly fresh. We throw our three kids in the car under the auspicies of going to the Eric Carle museum and drive for over two hours just to go to AmChi for chicken with fiddleheads in the spring and their vegetable raviolis anytime. The owner is lovely, recognizes us and our kids and still tallies the bill on a abacus.

I have always liked Spoleto's, but I think that is because it was the first nice restaurant where we we're treated as regulars (other than Delano's pub in Amherst). Yes, the prices are a bit high for a college student, but the food has always been intriguing and the waitstaff professional.

THe Black Sheep deli makes my all time favorite sandwich- a Black Sheep Baguette with fresh mozzarella, sundried tomotoes and pesto. Now, this was a novelty the many years ago we were in school and while now not a "modern" sandwich by any means, it is very well executed.

I lived on DP Dough after last call. Still my benchmark for all calzones.

Bruno's (I'm pretty sure that is the name- I was usually half in the bag when ordering :rolleyes: -made really good steak and cheese subs.

As others have mentioned, Atkins Farm, the Asian market on Route 9, and Table and Vine are great.

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I've heard good things about Amherst Chinese. Unfortunately, for those of us on the west side of the river, it's not close enough for take-out but maybe we'll try dining in the next time we're in Amherst (unless we try Black Sheep, which serveral folks also give good reviews). We've only tried Judie's in Amherst so far, which we liked. We go to Atkins Farm fairly regularly so I'll just have to make the effort to head into town.

I totally spaced on the Chinese front. We had really good take-out from Great Wall in Florence (even though I think that I ordered very poorly). Will definitely try it again next time we're at Look Park.

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We went to T. J. Buckley's the Saturday before Memorial Day to celebrate my brother's 50th - dscot might have even been there with us! It was a truly memorable meal. We ordered one of each appetizer to share around the table - a smoked trout tartlet, a Stilton and artichoke tartlet, and a pate. The pate was garnished with some razor-fine fans of small apple and pear slices and was accompanied by a grainy mustard and a fruit chutney with some real zing (plus crackers etc. ) I'd vote the pate plate the most interesting in terms of variety of flavors and textures, although the smoked trout tartlet was a very close second, light and creamy with whisps of smoke. Salad was arranged almost leaf by leaf, with a watermelon daikon thin petalled "rose" , a random cherry tomato or so, random small bits of cheese, and perfect greens with vinaigrette. We ordered three of the four entrees - we had three duplicates on the beef where folks were hooked by the accompanying wild mushrooms. The beef was very tender and tasty and came with mashed potatoes (my taste wasn't big enough to figure out the flavoring). My vote would go for the seared diver scallops with carrot-sage oil, served over thin wedges of polenta, in turn over some thin slices of very large sweet beets, a sweet-ish surprise at the very bottom of the plate. The scallops were topped with sauteed green and were large, meaty, tender and sweet. The birthday boy had guinea hen over a white bean and something (lentil?) - can't remember the veg garnish, and said it was juicy and tasty. Desserts were mixed berry shortcake with buttermilk ice cream, a molten chocolate thingy, a fruit tart I think with ginger ice cream, and a burnt sugar ice cream with a carmelized tuille-ish (?) cookie with a couple of raspberries. The burnt sugar ice cream was surprisingly unsweet - the cookie was an integral part. I'd go for the shortcake again.

The place is amazingly small, and the kitchen is open. The "ballet" description is absolutely right on and especially fitted the woman making the cold plates - artistically thin, she would deliberately and steadily put together these artistic salads, fine slices, and garnishes that were works of art. It was one of the calmest, most measured kitchens I have ever seen.

The operation has two sittings a night, 6:30 and 8:30. Our reservations were for the the early sitting. If/when I were to go again, I'd go for the second sitting - I'd rather wait a bit if necessary rather than feel that at 8:30 someone was waiting for my table. The chef had never seen us before but gave us a cheerful greeting on our way out the door. Yes, definitely the higher end of the local price scale, but off the end of the local cuisine scale.

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La Fiorentina Pastry Shop

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Whoops! The place is so nice I posted it twice.

Edited by Alex (log)

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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  • 1 month later...

I'm taking my girlfriend on a day trip to Amherst/Northampton on Friday, because she's a stranger to New England and we'll be in NH visiting my mother -- showing her where I went to college is a good excuse for me to have a look around, since I haven't been there since 1996.

Other than what's mentioned on this thread, is there anything that would be a can't-miss, or major changes that are going to shock me? I know Bart's in Noho is gone. Is Herrell's still by the Raven? Is there anything interesting where Words + Pictures used to be? Has Starbuck's replaced Pioneer Valley Coffee and all the other local places?

We're definitely going to Atkins -- I was a Hampshire student -- and to the Black Sheep (I lived across the street, so that and the Jamaican place that was next to it were my staples), but we might just browse there or buy things to take home. So I'm looking at lunch and possibly an early dinner.

I know the Blue Flame's been gone for ages, or we'd probably end up having both meals there.

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Herrell's is still there, and, yes, Starbucks is a big presence on Main St. now. There's also a Coldstone Creamery. And a Tibetan restaurant. And an Argentinean restaurant.

We were just in Amherst over the weekend for a casual dinner at Amherst Chinese. While there are new places in town, they all have the look/feel of student restaurants, if you know what I mean.

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dscott, have you tried Jake's for breakfast? Not as chi-chi as Sylvester's, but the food is really good, especially to huevos rancheros.

We've gone to Table 9 and were very disappointed -- mediocre food and service.

Del Raye has a great bistro menu Sun-Thurs. I think it's $29 for four courses and the food is just fantastic.

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Herrell's is still there, and, yes, Starbucks is a big presence on Main St. now.  There's also a Coldstone Creamery. And a Tibetan restaurant. And an Argentinean restaurant.

We were just in Amherst over the weekend for a casual dinner at Amherst Chinese.  While there are new places in town, they all have the look/feel of student restaurants, if you know what I mean.

Argentinean! Well, that might be interesting.

And yeah, I figured this is probably going to be a nostalgia trip more than anything -- we're in Bloomington (IN, home of IU) now, as much a college town as I've ever seen, so we get plenty of exposure to student restaurants.

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I'm always wary to recommend places that I have not been to myself but...

since you'll be going to Atkins, on your way back into town you might want to try the Moan and Dove (in a small shopping ctr. on the eastern side of 116) for a good beer. From those who have been, it sounds like a wonderful place for a beer lover. Apparently the owner is quite enthusiastic about good brew. It's quickly risen to the top of my where-to-go-with-a-designated-driver list.

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  • 9 months later...

Feeling guilt-tripped by scargo's post about the lack of activity on the NE board, here's my update from my second 1/2 year in the Valley. Everything I said back in June still holds, except that Cha Cha Cha no longer exists and I like Spoleto Express better now. [Notes: All places are Northampton unless otherwise noted. I don't eat out as much as I'd like so many comments below are about non-restaurants.]

Great:

Outlook Farm (Westhampton) for pork - I've never personally been to the farm but I got a "freezer pig" as a gift and we are loving eating our way through it. The sausages are divine (course grind with plenty o' fat) and the chops need nothing more than S+P. I will be making a trip out to there in the next few month to restock my sausage provisions (that will have lasted < 6 months :wink: ). BTW, if you know someone who loves pork, a "freezer pig" is about the best gift they could get.

Moan and Dove, Amherst - I finally did go myself and it's one of the greatest beer selections I've ever witnessed. Truly a beer lover's paradise.

Donut Dip, W. Springfield - What a great, old-fashioned donut shop. Such a gem. Killer sour cream donuts. Completely different from our other great Valley donut resource (Atkins Farm) but no less delicious. A dangerous temptation everytime I hit W. Springfield.

Good:

Circa-Not as good as TJ Buckleys or even Green St but still nice. On a par with Blue Heron.

Zen-Really good pan-Asian food. Maybe deserves to be in the next category up but I've only been once.

Black Sheep, the Holyoke Open Square one - Only open weekdays (major bummer) but a really great space, staff, food and coffee.

A good burger at the bar? Packard's, Fitzwilly's and Smithsonian (Hatfield) all do the job quite nicely.

A great greasy old-fashioned burger? White Hut, W. Springfield

Coffee in Florence? Evolution Cafe and Cup and Top are both fun and comfortable on the way to (or from) Look Park

Desperate needs: A good place to eat in Holyoke. We really need, in order: 1) a coffee house (think Woodstar), 2) a decent non-Italian, sit-down, moderately priced restaurant, and 3) a deli with decent prepared foods for dinner take-out. Please!

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Does it have to be in Holyoke? There's a new restaurant in South Hadley, in the Commons, that is quite good: Food 101. It's less than 10 minutes from Holyoke, out on route 116. In the other direction, in Easthampton, the Tavern on the Hill has pretty good food. It was opened by Pat Shannon, ex-Del Raye chef.

I love Donut Dip, too: "What foods these morsels be". Partial to the honey crullers and pumpkin donuts, in addition to sour cream.

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There's 2 more for the to-be-tried list: honey crullers and pumpkin donuts

Others (including spouse) have tried Tav. on Hill and had middling reviews. Had a meal cancelled at Food 101 but will try soon.

edited to add: Apparently Patrick Shannon left TOH and opened his own place in Florence. Can't remember the name though.

Edited by dscott (log)
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I have to agree with most of what's been said-I'm a current student in the area.

Green St. Cafe is quite delicious-I remember having a salad with homegrown organic peaches there once that was fabulous. However, two of the four times I've been there, they sat us in the back room, all alone, with no music piped in, which was a little lonely-the second time that happened we asked to be moved to the front room, and had a much better experience.

I'm going to try Del Raye next week, so I'll be back to report on that...

Circa was also quite pleasant-just one room and very intimate, but the food was almost on par with Green St., and the wines I've had there have been better than the ones at Green St.-but neither time I was the one doing the ordering, so that may simply have been chance.

Herrell's has really great ice cream, far better than Bart's in my mind-and we still have Bart's in Amherst, so I've tried both. They have a huge selection of flavors that are rotated daily, so it's always fun to stop in and see what they have-things like rosewater- and lavender-flavored ice cream, twinkie ice cream, burnt sugar and butter...

Another cute restaurant in Northhampton to try is the Moroccan one...Amanouz Cafe or something like that. For the prices, it's quite good, though not at all a sit-down place. They have some good breakfasts too.

Further down Rte. 9 is a cute little hole-in-the-wall called Mi Tierra. Coming from the Southwest, it's hard to get good Mexican/Central American food up here, and Mi Tierra isn't bad-and you can't beat the prices. The fried plantains are pretty fabulous, with a really good crema sort of dipping sauce.

In Amherst itself, I have to second what everyone else has said about the Black Sheep-quite good croissants, delicious sandwich bread loaves and sandwiches, and some quite good, though unoriginal, desserts.

There's an intriguing restaurant in Amherst that I have also yet to try-Baku's African Restaurant. I'll report back when I finally get around to going there.

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Following up on my earlier post:

Herrell's was even better than I remembered, which is saying quite a lot.

Packard's still makes the best burgers I've had in the Five Colleges area since the Blue Flame closed.

We had some great sandwiches at Atkins, which I don't think I had done before. I wish we'd had time to go to Tailgate to get some to bring home, but I'm now moving back to New Hampshire and expect I'll be down in the Valley every couple months.

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There's 2 more for the to-be-tried list: honey crullers and pumpkin donuts

Others (including spouse) have tried Tav. on Hill and had middling reviews.  Had a meal cancelled at Food 101 but will try soon.

edited to add: Apparently Patrick Shannon left TOH and opened his own place in Florence. Can't remember the name though.

I'm not surprised to hear that Pat left to open his own place -- the food at TOH was nowhere near the quality or interest of the food he served at Del Raye. Speaking of which, we had wondered about the quality of food at Del Raye after he left, and it turns out there was absolutely nothing to worry about it -- it's as excellent as always, with front of house and bartender to match.

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