Restaurant week delights Berkshires

Water Street Grill provides an inexpensive and friendly dining experience during “North County Eats.” Minwei Cao/Staff Writer.

As someone familiar with D.C. and Baltimore restaurant weeks, I was skeptical when I heard that the City of North Adams and Williamstown Chamber of Commerce were hosting a “restaurant week.” However, after exploring “North County Eats” this past week, I was fairly impressed and definitely would recommend going with friends, dates, teammates, entrymates and awkward acquaintances next year!

I went to try three restaurants during North County Eats: an upscale place (Mezze), a lowkey, no-frill place (Water Street Grill) and a Spring Street restaurant (Pera). Here is what I thought of each.

Mezze is probably the most high-end place in the zip code 01267 with a “chill” fine dining ambience. The first course on the menu was the delicata squash salad. The squash in the salad was nicely roasted, but since the salad was named after it, I found the other ingredients overpowering. The arugula’s nuttiness, the hazelnuts’ crunch, the apple’s biting acidity and the crowdie cheese’s creaminess: every ingredient wanted some attention to itself. It did not really come together for me, but still very tasty.

The main course was confit of Long Island duck. Wow, the first bite was beautiful! Crispy, rich, fatty, tender, all in one bite. I was extremely happy. It was a huge piece of duck confit too! Under the duck confit was a circle of perfectly cooked brussel sprouts in a mustard butter and apple cider sauce. I loved how the mustard cut into the richness of the duck without overpowering the star of the entree.

For dessert, we had maple pot de creme with whipped cream and honey wheat cookie. Pot de creme is a custard-like dessert, frequently made with chocolate. So the creativity using maple was very exciting for me. The cookie was a little too soft for my liking, and I would have enjoyed a crunch to add texture to the cream, but the pot de creme was very well-executed. The small portion was great after a big duck confit entree.

Eating at Mezze was a delicious experience with lots of flavors and twists on classics. I highly recommend it for restaurant week since Mezze is typically pretty expensive and three courses for $30 is a fantastic deal!

Water Street Grill is a very American comfort food, no frill sort of place. The menus look like they have not changed in 20 years. For $10 though, you get two meals worth of food and that is music to someone who is on the five-meal-plan’s ears.

For the entrée, I chose the angus beef burger and picked BBQ sauce, bacon, sauteed onions and swiss cheese as my four toppings. I asked for the burger medium but got it medium well. Yet overall, still a very satisfying, hearty, juicy burger. The bacon slab was thick cut and delicious. I could only eat half of the burger and could take the rest home for dinner.

The dessert was okay. The crumble itself was buttery and baked golden, but the lemon curd was very artificial. The raspberry and white chocolate ribbons also tasted pretty artificial. I was not particularly impressed.

Overall, Water Street Grill is a great place to go if you are hungry and need some comfort food. You get to relax and have some down-to-earth traditional fare, and that is all you need sometimes on a Saturday.

Pera is Spring Street’s nicest dining venue. Its lighting and ambience and music are always pleasant, the waitresses kind and attentive, and much of the food above average.

For restaurant week appetizer, we got both the hummus plate and the chicken chili soup. The hummus was three hearty spoonfuls and very satisfying with warm pita and crunchy vegetables. The soup: warm but okay. Pera also gave us a three bean salad on the house with a tasty olive oil, herb and citrus vinaigrette. Simple but delicious.

The entree I got was lamb bolognese with pappardelle. The pasta did not have as much chew as I would like, but it was plenty of carbs so I can’t complain. The sauce was delicious! So much lamb and tomato goodness, with fragrant onions and spices to cut the smell and strong aftertaste of lamb. I wish my crostinis were a bit more toasted, but they were a perfect pairing to my leftover bolognese sauce. The mango sorbet I got for dessert proved to be very refreshing after a heavy pasta meal, so I left happy.