Dakota: steak, seafood & smiles

Quick information: Incredible steakhouse serving all things steak, seafood, and chicken. Vegetarians should steer clear. Best salad bar in the Berkshires. 40 minutes south in Lenox.

Dakota rocks…period. Andrew has been a patron of this fine establishment for nearly a decade. In fact, it is the longest standing eating relationship in his admittedly short and geographically-limited life. Furthermore, Andrew had the distinct pleasure of introducing Mac, now a three-year veteran, to this jewel of a restaurant in the summer of 1995.

Getting to Dakota is not the hard part; finding the time and appetite are another concern entirely. It is 40 minutes south on Route 7 (35 minutes if Mac drives). The building itself is unmistakable. Anyone on the way to Tanglewood has surely seen Dakota, a rustic wooden building that is distinctly out of place in New England.

Those who have driven by in the summer will certainly remember the giant inflatable crab that seasonally perches on the building’s roof. Donít be be scared off by the 100-foot inflatable monster, though, Dakota is not to be missed.

On the inside, the rustic wood interior of the front dining room is graced with all of the fittings one would expect at a hunting lodge: a canoe, deer and moose heads and the like. The wooden tables and chairs, giant steak knives, and heavy-duty plates and glasses bring out the carnivore in all of us.

Vegetarians beware!

Dakota is a meat-lovers’ heaven; there is simply nothing satisfactory on the menu for herbivores. The steaks are phenomenal and are cooked on your choice of wood, mesquite, or gas grill. The lobster tanks are filled to the brim with choice pickings. Shrimp and chicken dishes are succulent. The home-made bread, a unique multi-grained Scandinavian affair, is served fresh out of the oven. The salad bars (yes, there are two) are second to none.

In all his years of dining at Dakota, however, Andrew had never been to the Sunday Brunch Buffet, served from 10 – 2. Nor had Mac. Intrigued by the concept of brunch outside of the Williams Inn, and by the possibility that brunch would allow our vegetarian friends to survive Dakota’s otherwise meat-dominated menu, it has been a goal of ours to correct this situation before our graduation.

Brunch Bonanza

We were indeed up to the challenge as a group of eight of us went to celebrate a belated birthday for Mac. As some of our readers may be gathering, this was back in February, but hey, we have been busy.

Our efforts and great expectations were well rewarded, for this brunch exceeded all expectations. For $14.95, it is hands-down the best brunch in the Berkshires. Mac, not known for his love of omelets, was astonished at the quality of his mushroom, ham, bacon, pepper, tomato, and cheese masterpiece.

The omelet station itself is a thing of beauty. Eggs for each omelet are cooked in their own little pan, and ingredients are then added. As the omelets move down the nine-burner line, they are cooked to perfection. For the finishing touches, the cheese (if requested) is added and the pan placed in an oven for a quick browning. Andrew suggests getting an omelet simply to watch its production.

Another item well worth mention is the incredible bacon. After four years of Dining Services “bacon,” we were thrilled to see such thick, meaty, and well-cooked pork on our plates. Chris Bell ’98 — a vegetarian by birth but weaned on bacon by his meat-loving grandfather — ate enough of the stuff to get his yearly supply of protein.

The rest of the brunch was equally good. Pancakes, waffles, hash browns, bagels, muffins, smoked fish, roast beef, ham, turkey, deli meats and cheese, danishes, cake, fresh fruit, salads and vegetables, candy, coffee, tea, and OJ rounded out the meal.

Everything is all-you-can-eat…and we did. A rough count indicated that the table blazed through 60+ plates (special thanks goes to Andy Raich ’98 for his impressive pancake eating blitz, accounting for a good six or seven of the aforementioned plates).

Heading South

Dakota is perpetually busy. For those who have to wait for a table, you are conveniently given a vibrating pager to rouse you out of the extensive bar area. We suggest you call ahead to make reservations.

Directions: Drive south on Route 7 past Pittsfield. Dakota is on your left

in Lenox.