Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pleasant & Main

Pleasant & Main Café
1063 Main St.
Housatonic, Great Barrington, MA 01236
(413) 274-6303
“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” G.B. Shaw
            Go eat here.
            Better yet, bring a really delicious book or an excellent friend, and eat here.
            “Pleasant and Main is the best thing that’s happened to Housatonic.” Say many locals. 
Restaurateur Craig Berg has reclaimed Jack’s Grill, formerly known as Montana’s General Store, in the quiet artsy hamlet of Housatonic just north of Great Barrington.  The atmosphere is reminiscent of the old general store.  Berg has used old floor boards he found in the basement for tables and lined the walls with wood shelves filled with a most interesting collection of turn-of-the-previous-century memorabilia. Spacious yet familiar though still elegant, I can almost imagine wearing a gingham dress here and ordering a Latte to go with a piece of apple pie.
What I most enjoyed about my experience there, besides a fascinating conversation about living off the land, Norwegian farming practices in Wisconsin and what Berg’s mother could do with a wood stove, is the fact that I could taste each ingredient in my meals.  In other words, everything had flavor. 
The menu is simple and completely dependent upon what is appropriate to the season.  The breakfast and lunch menu remains the same Tuesday through Saturday but the dinner menu (served Thursday through Sunday–$15 for appetizer and main course, $20 with dessert) changes week to week.  Called “Community Suppers”, the dinner menu reflects what is going on in town as well as what delicious foodstuffs Berg was able to harvest from the land or to gather from small, local farmers with whom he has developed a personal relationship. He feels it is important to know everything he can about the food he serves, preferring to buy from people who love their soil, fields and animals.  I believe it is this care and passion for the whole process of eating that gives his food and restaurant its wonderful flavor.
I recommend getting dessert with lunch or dinner.  I shared a banana split and a lemon crepe with my mother over dinner. Strange combination? Not so. The lemon crepe refreshed my palate to better appreciate the chocolate fudge. I’ve no idea what he did to the bananas or walnuts, but it was the best banana split I’ve had ever.  And his croissants taste like how I remember croissants tasting in Europe.
This is not the kind of place to rush in and rush out. Other reviewers have said the service is slow. I did not find it so but perhaps that is because I went to Pleasant and Main to savor the experience and to spend time with my friends.  Indeed, the idea of being a communal feeding ground is part of Berg’s long term goal. A vision which stems from his memory of the meals his mother served migrant farm workers over a big wooden table back in Wisconsin.
So Google Housatonic and find your way to a nice little town and a good little eatery. Then take a walk down Main St. to visit some nice galleries. And tell them Renee from the Lakeville Compass sent you. I’d appreciate it.
Plans for garden seating and an old fashioned soda fountain are in the works for after Memorial Day.  Community supper menus are available every Wednesday on their website:

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