Red Lion Inn
"There is something so reassuring about this dining room," said my friend the Baltimore Brahmin. He admired the faded flowered wallpaper that whispers Great Aunt Alice, the bud vases filled with fresh Christmas bouquets of holly and mini pinecones, the handsome hotel silver, and the pewter chargers engraved "Red Lion Inn 1773" set on the snowy white tablecloths. Dinner at the Red Lion Inn manages to be New England past, present, and future. The bowl of clam chowder ($8), which is served with a paper doily underneath like every proper restaurant used to do, tastes just like Cape Cod. An appetizer of beet & yogurt hummus with toasted sesame seeds, mint & house made chips ($12) proves that chef Brian Alberg has managed the balancing act of creating modern dishes without jettisoning tradition. Certainly, the handsome prime rib ($40)—two "thin" but hefty slices—served with a jumbo popover, sauteed vegetables and a nostalgic baked potato with sour cream is a comforting, all-American meal. But there's lighter fare with a contemporary sensibility such as grilled Faroe Island salmon with white beans in tomato broth, basil, asparagus and bay kale ($32). Chef Alberg sources as much as he can from local farms and producers and his stunning "flight" of artisan cheeses is awesomely au courant. Each cheese is paired with a sweet or savory: Old Chatham camembert with Braebrun apple; Crawford Family Farm Vermont Ayr with Marcona Almonds; Shelburne Farms cheddar with quince paste; Twig Farm tomme with wildflower honey; Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue with carmelized walnuts. Even if you're not staying overnight at the inn, dinner at the Red Lion makes you feel like you've been on a journey to the heart of America.Red Lion Inn 30 Main St., Stockbridge, MA (413) 298-5545 Breakfast: Monday - Friday 7 - 10 a.m.; Saturday & Sunday 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. Lunch: Monday - Friday 12 - 2:30 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday noon - 4 p.m. Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 5:30 - 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.
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