A quick trip to Lenox, but my first this year, so I have a few things to report.
Bistro Zinc (or is it Zinc Bistro?), Saturday dinner:
Zinc, on Church Street in Lenox, has had no shortage of airplay on this board over the years. Most praise the place, but it certainly has its detractors. I've eaten at Zinc several times for lunch -- and have enjoyed it very much -- but ate there for dinner for the first time on Saturday. I am happy to report that I enjoyed it just as much for dinner. My six-year-old and I both started with the peking duck rolls, and we both loved them. I was prepared for them to be fried, but was thrilled that they were not: rather, they were duck meat and a sweet and mild chili sauce rolled in tortillas. The other three at our table all ordered yellow gazpacho served with a small dish of scallop ceviche, a special that night. I tasted the gazpacho, which was very nice (although it wasn't chunky, which I think I would have preferred), and since none of the three was interested in the ceviche, I ate two of them, which I also enjoyed very much. For my entree I ordered the steak au poivre, which was served with a generous portion of hot and salty fries (they also offer a class steak frites on the menu). I enjoyed it very much, even if I only could eat half of it after my duck rolls and ceviche!
SoCo, Sunday breakfast:
I think this place is new. It's on Housatonic Street in Lenox, on the same block as Betty's Pizza Shack, right across the street from Fins. I think this has always been an ice cream place, but now they offer breakfast and lunch 7-days-a-week and dinner on weekends. We had stopped in for ice cream on Saturday night after Zinc and noticed that they served breakfast, so my daughter and I came back for breakfast in the morning. (Last year's daddy-daughter breakfast was around the corner at Carroll's, which was TERRIBLE). The breakfast menu is fairly basic, but there's something for everyone: eggs, omelets, pancakes (buttermilk or blueberry, with a $1 surcharge for "real" maple syrup; I'd prefer that they just build it into the price and give it to you), oatmeal; maybe a couple of other items. I ordered eggs over easy with bacon, knowing that I'd be able to finish my daughter's blueberry pancakes. The eggs were competently prepared; the accompanying bacon was standard greasy spoon bacon; and while the pancakes were not the best I have ever had (and I think the blueberries were frozen, not fresh), they were decent, and a giant step above Carroll's. I certainly would return.
Old Inn on the Green (New Marlboro), Sunday dinner:
I have been a fan of Old Inn chef and owner Peter Platt since he was the chef at Wheatleigh, where my wife and I were married almost 8 years ago. My wife and I made the half hour trip from Lenox to have dinner on Sunday night, and were rewarded with an excellent meal. Peter's cooking continues to be great, and he seems to have introduced more creativity into the food's presentation. Our server was a total amateur (ME: "Can you please tell me how the halibut is prepared? HER: "I really don't know." Not "I really don't know, let me find out," just "I really don't know"), but the other servers seemed more competent and we didn't let that ruin our meal.
Our meal began with a complimentary glass of champagne. When we were seated -- on their very nice screened patio -- we asked to sit at the larger table at the corner, rather the smaller table in the middle of the room. They told us that they had to save that table for a party of four, but when five or ten minutes later they seated another couple there, they brought us the champagne as an apology. They then served two amuse bouches. The first was a mussel in a broth of some sort with diced peppers on top. I generally don't like mussels, but I enjoyed this. The second was a beet parfait with a carrot vinaigrette. It's almost like they were challenging me, since I also generally don't like beets, but this too was delicious. I used it as a spread on the wonderful, warm wheat baguette that they served (with a very good butter, by the way).
For my meal, I had a lobster and pea risotto, followed by the halibut (even though the server couldn't tell me how it was prepared). Both were very good, washed down with an extraordinary half bottle of 2000 Moccagatta Bric Balin Barbaresco ($65; they also offer it by the bottle at $101, which I would have gone for if I had known how good it was going to be).
A really nice thing about the Old Inn is that dining there is elegant, but casual. I didn't feel like wearing a jacket, as I normally would for dinner there, and instead dressed in nice jeans, a button down shirt, and nice but casual shoes. I did not feel at all out of place.