Rustic Freight Yard Pub atmosphere belies less than impressive cuisine

Tucked away in a small North Adams marketplace, Freight Yard Pub is pretty easy to miss. This pub-style restaurant has a country-chic red exterior and displays a little whimsical train near its entrance, and this may be useful for those attempting to locate this elusive eatery in the future.

We arrived on a Friday night around 7:30 p.m. to a packed pub. We decided to take out our food to-go style and consume it in the comfort of my room with some Merlot. The atmosphere was quite pleasant: The restaurant has a fireplace and colorful decorations everywhere – even some moose horns hanging near the bar – which made for a fun, college-town feel.

The menu consists of typical pub fare that leans on the hearty, stick-to-the-bones sides: big salads, soups; appetizers such as hot wings, battered onion and nachos; entrees including burgers, steaks, ribs and pasta; and specialty dishes like fajitas. The restaurant also boasts a full bar and a varied beer selection. We ordered the Loaded Potato Skins as an appetizer, Giant Sizzling Fajitas with sirloin steak and the Sesame Chicken Salad. The dishes were $9, $17 and $12, respectively, just a bit pricier than pub food found in Williamstown.

The Loaded Potato Skins were just what we needed after a stressful week of midterms because they were an amalgamation of all of my favorite things: potato, lots of gooey cheese and bacon. Each one had a crispy outer skin cooked to an optimal level of crunchiness, while the potato was soft and almost creamy on the inside. The cheese – a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella – was heaped on generously and melted gracefully into each potato skin. This was topped with a hunk of salty smoky bacon, and, along with the cheese, the bacon adequately flavored the potato innards that would have been bland otherwise. This appetizer was satisfying because it was creamy, cheesy, soft, warm, salty and greasy in the best way. The sour cream and chives that came along as a dip toned down the saltiness a bit and readied our palates for our entrees.

The Giant Sizzling Fajitas were just mediocre. Maybe this was because they weren’t exactly sizzling by the time we ate, so I cannot blame the restaurant completely. The sirloin steak pieces were not tough or burnt but were not exactly tender either. They were spicy enough, albeit still a bit bland. I felt like the seasoning needed more risk-taking, a kick or maybe just some more garlic. The onions and peppers seemed to wilt slightly, maybe due to over-caramelizing. The tortillas were plain run-of-the-mill white-flour ones, and the dish came with three. What were actually quite unpalatable were the sides: salsa, lettuce, chopped tomato and sour cream. The salsa was definitely house-made, but it tasted like canned red tomatoes with some Mexican seasoning thrown in. There was no crunch, spice or freshness anywhere in this salsa. The lettuce was definitely not completely fresh – it was not crispy, and it had tell-tale reddening around some of the edges. The chopped tomato was fairly normal, but the sour cream was watery and had some separation in it already. This dish wasn’t exactly appetizing, and I felt like I had wasted my $17 that could have bought me an entire delicious pizza or three sandwiches near campus.

I thought the Sesame Chicken Salad would reaffirm my hopes for the food, especially because the Loaded Potato Skins had been so promising, but it ultimately failed. The salad was basically a bed of mixed greens topped by a too-chewy grilled chicken breast and Asian cracker pieces – the same kind we see at the salad station at Whitman’s. It was neither impressive and carefully made nor bedecked with creativity even though the salad had a large portion size. The dressing seemed to be an overly sweet mixture of hoisin sauce, sesame oil and some other ingredients – lackluster overall. I personally felt like I had concocted better salads myself at the Driscoll salad bar on an average weekday.
Overall, the Freight Yard Pub disappointed because the exterior and interior design trumped the food. My appetizer set my hopes up for the entrees, but they were just ridiculously overpriced. Granted, the food may have been hotter, fresher and tastier had I not taken it out, but there was no excuse for both its general lack of interesting flavoring and, specifically, its bad salsa. I would only recommend Freight Yard Pub for drinks and appetizers, since that seems to be its forte.

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