Upscale dining on a budget [Berkshire Eagle]
Berkshires After Dark Restaurant Review, as published in the Berkshire Eagle, October 27, 2011
My Rating: 4 “Mugs”
Many of us in the 20s-to-30s range may not count the Gramercy Bistro, now housed at Mass MoCA on Marshall Street in North Adams, as a “nightlife” spot, considering the numerous and lively dive bars and casual dining places nearby.
In fact, some are reluctant to even try the Bistro, fearing that it may be to upscale or too expensive.
Well, I’m here to squash those fears. Not only does Gramercy Bistro make for a impressive and romatice date night (hint hint, guys), but it can also serve as the perfect start to a friends’ night out, dinner party or after-work cocktails destination. And if you’re smart about it, you can do it all without breaking the bank.
The biggest reason you should visit Gramercy Bistro is, by far, the cuisine. Sure, dishes may run a little pricier than other downtown North Adams eateries (dinners are usually between $18 and $26, while salads and appetizers run from $6 to $10), but it’s worth every penny.
The extremely talented chef-owner Alexander Smith takes organic, farm-raised meats and locally grown produce and whips them into eclectic, delectable dishes made for sharing.
The menu changes seasonally, and currently features the perfect tribute to Berkshire-grown produce, Autumn Lasagna. A mountain of melt-in-your-mouth butternut squash and ricotta smothered in crimini mushroom sauce, the dish is a lesson in decadence.
A filling plate like this along with a salad or appetizer such as the soup de jour can easily feed two people, making it easy to spend under $50 on a date.
Other notable plates include the paella, with chicken, shrimp, chorizo, mussels, squid and littlenecks, and the popular seared sea scallops with southwestern hash and fire-roasted poblano sauce.
The full bar offers a small, but respectable selection of beers, including Berkshire Brewing Company, but Gramercy is really all about the wine selection. Splurge a bit on a bottle from their boundless wine list (ranging from roughly $30 to $100), or simply try out a glass of house chardonnay or pinot noir for $6-$8.
The restaurant doesn’t have a cocktail menu, but will gladly concoct anything you ask for (I hear they make a mighty tasty Old Fashioned).
Make sure to ask for spirits from Berkshire Mountain Distillery, which are fully stocked and featured behind the bar.
The overall vibe of Gramercy is very sophisticated with a minimalist decor. Gray and white floor-length curtains cover the large windows, while small paintings and drawings float inconspicuously on the large mustard-colored walls.
The tables are covered in white and feature sparse decoration, drawing all the more attention to the beautifully-displayed food.
A small dividing wall separates the bar and a few high-tops from the dining room, creating a great space to have a few drinks without bothering other diners.
Technically, you don’t have to dress up to dine at Gramercy Bistro, but you may a feel a bit out of place in sweats and a t-shirt. Besides, I find that part of the fun is making a special occasion out of it, even if you’re just meeting an old friend for a drink.
So go ahead and don your best weekend outfit. It’s not that often you have a legitimate excuse to do so!
While Gramercy Bistro serves as a convenient spot for Mass MoCA museum-goers to end their visit with a nice meal, I hope to see it evolve into a regular nightlife destination for the younger crowds.
Let’s skip the $2 draft specials once in a while for a quality glass of imported wine. At least we’ll feel classy and sophisticated…for a night, anyways.
If You Go…
Gramercy Bistro: 87 Marshall St. North Adams, 01247; Tel. (413) 663-5300; http://www.gramercybistro.com
Hours: Dinner every night 5-10 p.m.; Lunch Wednesday-Saturday 12-2 p.m.; Sunday Brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Price range: $20-$50
Dress: Smart Casual
Food: French Cuisine, American
Entertainment: Light music; occasional live music; outdoor patio & performances in Summer
Our rating: 4 mugs, “I’ll be back.”
Your rating: You can rate Gramercy Bistro at http://www.berkshireeagle.com/The413
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