Berkshire Restaurants Add a New Course to
Outdoor and Winter Dining

For Berkshire restaurants, the seasonal change which previously welcomed an influx of tourism, now poses fresh challenges. Chefs have adapted their operations to account for Covid-19 restrictions and created menus suitable for socially-distant dining. Berkshire Grown reached out to several local chefs and restaurant owners to learn how they are adapting for the incoming cold weather.
Paul Brassard, at Berkshire Palate in Williamstown, admits this season has been “a bit challenging, especially after a robust January and February, March was a seismic change in the wrong direction.” One big change was take-out. On March 1st, 6% of Brassard's business was takeout so for takeout to temporarily become 100% of the business created some challenges. “We did everything from revamping the menu (some foods just don't travel very well) to lots of behind the scene changes to accommodate this new type of workflow.” As colder weather approaches, the menu features end of the growing season foods such as butternut squash in soups, or as the base for hush puppies with maple aioli paired with roasted beets in salads (pictured). Indoor and take choices will continue to offer comfort food (Mac and Cheese now accompanies his house-smoked brisket) along with a selection of hearty sliders. Brassard also changed up his marketing by promoting new family-friendly meals.
 
Like other business owners, Brassard admits there is a silver lining to the curveball thrown by the pandemic– he cites his efforts to develop take-out options make him better prepared for the inevitable challenges winter will bring. “As a small family owned business that uses lots of locally-sourced products we are fortunate to be well received by the community. Supporting each other during these times is the only way to limit the damages of Covid-19 to the Berkshire community and economy.” Visit Berkshirepalate.com to peruse its seasonally changing menu and takeout choices.
 
Also in Williamstown, Nancy Thomas, Mezze Bistro & Bar proprietor and chef, created new options following current guidelines for her dining patrons, in addition to indoor seating. Mezze Roadside menu, Picnic Under the Pines and Take-Out, are available through the fall season. Diners can pre-order to take home, or make the choice to pick up the order at a designated time and seat themselves at one of the outdoor picnic tables which are disinfected between each use. Mezze Bistro is open for dinner with outdoor heated dining on the porch plus indoor dining with socially distanced seating. Visit www.mezzerestaurant.com.
In South County, Chef/ Owner Dan Smith of John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant pivoted to takeout early on in the pandemic. For the warm summer months the restaurant created outdoor dining areas on the lawn and hillside behind his restaurant in South Egremont. Extra furniture and equipment included netting and temporary floor surfaces set alongside fire pits created a magical outdoor space for dining guests. These changes kept Smith’s business strong and his staff employed throughout the spring and summer. With the winter months on the horizon and the outside dining option coming to an end John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant will continue to offer inside dining and take out. Chef Dan’s menu will reflect the change in season by incorporating winter squashes, root vegetables, some hearty vegetable stews, and braised local meat entrees. (CLICK HERE to watch Berkshire Grown’s new video and hear Dan Smith talk about the inspiration he gets from locally-sourced produce.)

Maggie Merelle, proprietor of Rouge Restaurant in West Stockbridge is developing a plan to re-open inside dining with the highest regard for the safety of her customers and staff. Rouge Restaurant will maintain its outdoor dining operation as long as possible, utilizing heat lamps, blankets, and fire pits to create a warm and safe environment. Her menu continues to evolve as it keeps pace with the seasonal offerings from local Berkshire purveyors as well as the challenges of outdoor and take-out dining. Rouge currently offers outdoor seated dining along the sidewalk, with selections from its Sidewalk Snacks and Sidewalk Sweets menus.

In the coming months Rouge will increase takeout options to include delivery (in addition to curbside pickup) with the return of their popular weekly Family Meal option as well as the introduction of some special event menus to be enjoyed in the comfort and safety of one’s home with servings for either two or four people. Meals feature French Fried Chicken, BBQ Short Ribs, Grilled Leg of Lamb, Local Grilled Sea Bream, and can be ordered completely finished or “Take & Bake” to finish at home.

Jeremy Kenny, General Manager at Rouge Restaurant, says special event menus are in the planning stages, with a goal to offer multi-course wine dinners for two featuring four to five different wines paired with four to five tasting courses complete with tasting notes, information about the wines, etc. Another plan in the works provides a special dining experience delivered right to one’s door during the holidays. Both Kenny and Merelle encourage patrons and newcomers to stay tuned and visit www.rougerestaurant.com often.
 
Support your local restaurants by taking advantage of outdoor dining, or purchase Gift Cards to share with friends. Get takeout for breakfast, lunch or dinner and cater your own fine dining experience to your nearest favorite picnic spot: cocktails to go can be had from Mooncloud in Great Barrington, fresh-cut bouquets from the farmers market, and delectable sweets from Chocolate Springs in Pittsfield or The Sweetish Baker in Great Barrington.
Berkshire Grown connects you with local farmers, restaurants, and food producers. DONATE TODAY to celebrate local farms and food, sustain our Berkshire food economy, and Keep Farmers Farming! Support your favorite local eating establishment.

Make a contribution in the amount of $100 or more and you receive a signature Berkshire Grown baseball cap! Thank you Kevin O'Rourke!
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PO Box 983, Great Barrington, MA 01230 or call (413) 528-0041.
Contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Buy your fresh, local holiday turkey from a
Berkshire Grown member!
Please call ahead for availability, more information about the product, and to reserve your holiday turkey from these Berkshire Grown Business Members.

Laughing Earth
Zack Metzger
518-821-8449 or zack@laughingearth.farm
Cropseyville, NY

Mill River Farm
Jan Johnson
413-229-6650 or info@berkshirehoney.com
New Marlborough, MA

Red Shirt Farm
Jim and Annie Schultz
413-822-9250 or jim@redshirtfarm.com
Lanesborough, MA

Skyview Farm
Amelia & Will Conklin
Sheffield, MA 01257

Square Roots Farm
Michael Gallagher & Ashley Amsden
413-446-1446 or squarerootsfarm@gmail.com
Lanesborough, MA
What We Are Reading:
Tips for getting the most out of seasonal squash
By Margaret Button, Berkshire Eagle, October 4, 2020

One of fall's treats — right up there with apple cider and pumpkin everything — is freshly harvested winter squash. Varieties of winter squash include acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicata, hubbard, kabocha, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, sweet dumpling and turban. (Photo credit Stephanie Zollshan)

"All winter squash do store well," said Meg Bantle, co-owner and operator of Full Well Farm on East Road, Adams. "They're cured in the field or out in the barn to evaporate excess moisture and concentrate the sugars. The length of time depends on the squash, with acorn having no curing time." With no curing time, she said, acorn squash has a shorter storage time as opposed to other varieties.

Read full article here.
Food and Farming Books We’re Reaching for This Fall
The Secret Life of Groceries
After taking aim at Bikram Yoga in his first book, Hell-Bent, author Benjamin Lorr takes us deep into the dark world of grocery store supply chains. Based on five years of research and hundreds of interviews, Lorr digs into the abuse and suffering endured by the workers that help bring food to your supermarket’s shelves. (September 8, Avery)

Eat A Peach
In his new memoir, David Chang tells the story of his rise to success and his struggles along the way. The celebrity chef behind Momofuku tackles his reputation for being an angry presence in the kitchen, his bipolar disorder diagnosis, and how cooking gave him purpose. (September 8, Clarkson Potter)
Read the full article here.
Now more than ever, connections to local food and farms hold our community together. 

Berkshire Grown's 2020 Guide to Local Food and Farms is the region's best guide to farms, farmers markets, and restaurants offering local foods. Use this Guide to find farm stands, CSA farms, pick-your-own farms and orchards, as well as locally sourced, value-added products like charcuterie, preserves, and fermented foods.

Connect to the Guide here to see descriptions of Berkshire farms, farmers markets, restaurants and local food businesses, with addresses and a detailed map. Pick up a printed copy at your local grocery store or farm stand. Keep it handy and use it frequently!
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Margaret Moulton, Executive Director
Andrea Caluori, Program Manager
Jess Camp, Program Manager
Sharon Hulett-Shepherd, Membership and Office Manager
Join Berkshire Grown here.