Road trip last weekend brought some good eating. First stop was the Yankee Diner on Rt. 20 in Charleton which we enjoyed very much. Classic diner that maybe needs a little spiffing up, extremely friendly waitress (and owner?), they had no problem splitting the 2 egg/2 pancake/bacon breakfast and even put it on separate plates. Eggs cooked properly, pancakes not quite as beautiful as the ones we saw grilling while we waited but fine, side order of home fries was good (even that was split) and we were told we HAD to have the special "SOS", creamed chipped beef which was way better than I remember when I had it as a kid. $6 something for a good amount of food and friendly atmosphere.
Wandered around Amherst and stopped into Bart's Ice Cream for small dishes of coffee and choc. w/ white and choc. chips plus raspberry (even tho it wasn't ice cream weather). Very rich, very good, my choc. ice cream was much more frozen than my friend's coffee. Also grabbed a good cappuccino/shortbread cookie from Henion Bakery across the street for later eating. Iced coffee from the newish Amherst Coffee was fairly weak and Starbucks priced. Then a shorter drive than we thought to Pete's Drive in on Rt. 9 in Hadley to split a hot dog and cheeseburger. Certainly not ready to eat but since it was one of the thinnest burgers I've ever seen, it wasn't like we were stuffing ourselves. Dog came on a great buttered and grilled roll but the dog itself could have been snappier. About $2 each.
Northampton is a great little town, started with some great pie at the Blue Bonnet diner on King St/Rt. 5. All I've had is cream pie my 3 trips there and the pineapple cream pie was another winner, great crust. Rhubarb pie was good too, nice waitress, only $2.25 and $2.50. More exploring then a quick beverage at the Northampton Brewing Co. in the cozy bar area. Paradise ale was pretty refreshing, I'm told the Double Take IPA was kind of strong. Then it was time for fancier eating starting at the bar at Del Raye on Bridge St. Short specialty drink list, I chose the mangotini which was made w/ rum and tasted like a pina colada, okay but wouldn't order again. Friend tried a new scotch and we split the shrimp and oyster pan roast in chili sauce. Expected more of a kick from the sauce, a little too ketchupy tasting, the garlic bread was great, bartender was nice, not a bad experience. On the suggestion of some people here, we went to Circa for dinner proper and while it was perfectly fine, our socks weren't knocked off. I had the duck two ways w/ sweet potato and green beans ($20) and friend ordered sea bass w/ quinoa cake and asparagus ($21). They had to substitute Alaskan halibut for sea bass which he was a little bummed about, but the nut crust was great, asparagus a bit overdone. He liked the q. cake but I thought it was too grainy. My duck was tasty but I've had duck dishes that have me oohing and ahing and this didn't quite do that. Good pour of vouvray and the Cabin Fever ale was a huge bottle for a good price. We were thinking of going to Eastside Grill for their maple crème brulee but it was on the Circa menu and we both were too selfish to split it, so we each had one and that was very good ($6.50). Great maple flavor coming thru. Nice service, pleasant place, but I think I would have stayed at Del Raye or checked out Table 9. For a nightcap, we walked thru Wiggins Tavern which is great but was too quiet (enjoyed the menu from 1939), then walked into the Tunnel Bar which had the opposite problem, but is a cool room and would be nice for a cocktail early before it gets jammed. We ended up at Hugo's on Pleasant St. with a couple games of pool and a few songs on the jukebox. Nicely downscale.
Sun. we grabbed big bowls of coffee and latte at Woodstar Cafe where I had a nice chocolate brioche then after a trip to the Springfield Museums, we made it to the infamous White Hut. As Chuck S. said below, I'm glad I went for the experience, but we had better burgers and dogs on our Conn. road trip last year. Again, a great grilled roll with the small dog, the cheeseburger was a mess with the fried onions and if we waited 2 more min to eat it, I think the wrapping would have soaked into the food. Fries were decent, came to <$6. I know the choice there is limited to 3 things, but a sign telling you that with prices would be nice. And they could put a few picnic tables outside, and maybe a counter around the window to eat at. It was kind of depressing inside instead of funky which I expected. Oh, they did have Stewarts bottled diet root beer which was a plus.
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