With many different breakfast establishments in and around Williamstown, including more frequented options like Chef’s Hat, Renee’s and The Blue Benn, Moonlight Diner & Grille is often overlooked. Located at 408 Main Street in the same lot as Chopsticks, Moonlight’s proximity to campus has done little to make it a student hotspot. In order to get a sense for what Moonlight is all about, I headed over there on Friday to see what this particular restaurant contributes to the sometimes-lacking Williamstown dining scene.
Walking into Moonlight is like stepping into a time warp that takes you back to the 1950s. With large posters of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando plastered onto the walls, in addition to a display of records and an authentic juke box, the place looks like it could be from a scene in Grease. I almost expected a waitress in a poodle skirt to roller blade up and escort us to our seats. Even the music had a ’50s feel to it, and after a quick Shazam I learned that the song playing when we walked in was “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore, a No. 1 hit pop song from 1963.
Upon being seated in a booth, the friends who accompanied me and I spent some time perusing the menu. For the most part, Moonlight has a standard list of offerings. The breakfast options include typical egg and omelet dishes in addition to pancakes and some sides like muffins and bagels. The lunch options include typical hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, a few full meal selections including steak dinners and a section specifically reserved for pasta dishes. Nothing stood out as particularly notable or out of the ordinary.
After looking through the menu we selected a breakfast sandwich with eggs and bacon on a bagel, two eggs over easy with toast and home fries and chocolate chip pancakes. Our food took about five minutes to come, and in general we were very satisfied with our choices. We gave the home fries an A+ rating, as they were perfectly crispy and not too soggy on the inside. The pancakes had a nice chocolate chip to pancake ratio, not overwhelmingly sweet but not sparing with the chocolate chips either. Overall, the food was by no means spectacular but perfectly good as far as diners go.
One thing that is nice about Moonlight compared to other places is its setup. The diner is very spacious, with numerous tables in addition to booths in the middle and along the walls of the single room restaurant. It wasn’t very crowded when we went, and due to the large number of people that the diner can accommodate it doesn’t seem as though there would often be a long wait or a feeling of overcrowded-ness.
Because Chef’s Hat seems to be the more popular breakfast locale for students despite the fact that it is significantly farther than Moonlight from campus, I went there on Sunday to get a sense for why that might be. The menus are relatively similar, although Chef’s Hat has slightly more options that are also more creative. After sampling a few things on the menu, I would have to give Chef’s Hat a slight edge in terms of food. However, there was a long wait both to be seated and to be served, the tables were crammed together and it was very loud. Moonlight is definitely a more pleasant dining experience in comparison. With fewer people, a bigger and more spread-out setup and a fun 1950s rock-and-roll theme, Moonlight is casual, relaxed and fun. The fact that we were in and out in half an hour was an added plus.
In a place like Williamstown where there are relatively few off-campus dining options that are close to campus, Moonlight is as good a choice as any. For those looking to go somewhere that’s not on Spring Street, it’s only a 15-minute walk and a three minute drive away. While the food is not standout or exceptional, it was perfectly satisfactory and the fun 1950s decor added to the overall experience. The prices were also very reasonable, with plenty of inexpensive options. All in all, I would definitely recommend Moonlight as a fun diner location for students looking to get off campus and try something different.