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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Forking Around

What’s for Lunch? Dept.: This week’s restaurant review drives past the tony joints that dot the Church Street area of Lenox, Mass., to settle in for lunch at Spoon.


“WE DON’T FORK AROUND,” reads the cutline for one of the graphics for Spoon, a charming little breakfast-lunch place in a neighborhood known for ambitious eateries. Thus it’s easily overlooked—but not when you’re lunching with a quinoa fanatic.

Photo by B. A. Nilsson
My daughter discovered Spoon through a smartphone search as we finished an assignment that put us in Lenox. It was a beautiful Berkshires day; as we eased along Church Street, we remembered how foolish it can be seeking a parking space here at this time of year. At which point we found one.

Spoon opened three years ago, the dream of siblings Danielle and Jason Dragonetti, who not only mastered the art of nose-balancing a spoon while children but went on to collect enough photographs of others performing this stunt to decorate a wall of their restaurant. Danielle has been working in restaurants since she was 14; Jason bounced between computers and food service, settling on the latter and graduating from Johnson and Wales.

The space underwent four months of renovation, in keeping with the new owners’ mission of keeping everything about their restaurant organic, humane and, when possible, recycled. Thus, counters and tabletops come from old doors and other repurposed slabs; the floor is made of mulberry leaves.

Carrying over the tradition of Scoop, their predecessor at that address, the restaurant offered ice cream as well, but had to drop that for sanity’s sake. (Scoop moved around the corner to Church Street).

A page of breakfast items; a page of lunch. It’s all available during business hours. Lots of egg-based dishes, from the “Simple Spoon,” which is two any-style eggs with potatoes and toast ($9) to a corned beef hash and eggs plate ($13) made from house-cured Northeast Family Farm brisket.

I’m still trying to atone for a childhood spent consuming canned corned beef hash, and seek out the fresh-made stuff whenever possible. So it was an easy decision to . . .

“Dad. You don’t need to eat more meat.”

Of course. The wisdom of my rail-thin offspring is not to be denied. Damn her. “What do you suggest I get?”

“The quinoa and poached eggs is the same price.”

“I thought you were getting that!” Turns out she’d decided to order the chicken and walnut salad ($12), leaving the quinoa option wide open.

“You’ll enjoy it. I promise,” said the helpful server. A woman dining at a nearby table agreed. Thus besieged, I ordered it.

Note that in so doing, I passed by the breakfast burrito ($11), made with scrambled eggs and bacon; pancakes with real (of course it’s real!) maple syrup ($9.50); ten-grain waffles (ditto, $10), a selection of $13 omelets that include fillings of bacon, smoked salmon, spinach and ham or even an array of white vegetables; homemade oatmeal or granola ($8) and, when you’re truly ready to let go, a fried chicken-and-waffle combo ($13).

But no. I had quinoa.

Photo by B. A. Nilsson
Quinoa with poached eggs on top, of course, which meant that I was able to fork my way into that golden goodness to anoint the grains below. There was a bed of lettuce below and bits of portobello mushroom and spinach within—and translucent flakes of shredded parmesan cheese melting into the assembly as it was served. Am I a quinoa convert? Let’s just say it made an admirably tasty support structure for my lunch, and I’ll be happy to order it again. Just don’t start in on me with kale.

Over on the lunch side, you can have your fork-free entrée as a sandwich or wrap, and homemade potato chips or mixed greens are available as a side. Wraps include hummus ($11), quinoa with black beans and purple cabbage slaw ($10.50), chicken salad ($12) and beets and raisins ($11); on the sandwich side of things are egg salad ($10), hummus (gluten-free, $10), turkey club ($12.50), and, for my torment, corned beef on rye ($12).

The salad realm includes beets with toasted walnuts and Great Hill blue cheese ($11) and smoked salmon with marinated tomatoes and cucumbers ($13); Lily’s choice of chicken and walnut featured good-sized chunks of mayo-dressed meat and little surprises of cranberries and apples, with an apple cider vinaigrette on the side. It’s the dignified opposite of the over-mayo’d deli-counter variety that works only with bread wrapped around it; here, it’s a true salad. It needs a fork. It boasts a palette of flavors that nicely complement the chicken.

The menu changes frequently; you’re encouraged to call to see if your favorites are available when you plan to visit.

Among the other suppliers who figure into Spoon’s fare are Barrington Coffee Roasters, Side Hill Farm, Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Markristio Farm, The Berry Patch, Mill Brook Sugarhouse and Rawson Brook Farm.

Our visit to Lenox included a few more stops in the area, not least of which were the Bookstore, an excellently stocked indie establishment, and Lenox Natural Foods, which also is owned by the Dragonettis and only reinforces their mission to keep the comestibles good for you and local. Make the most of your parking place when you visit.

Spoon, 26 Housatonic St, Lenox, Mass., 413-881-4040, Serving 8-4 Tue-Sun (hours change in September). AE, D, MC, V.

Metroland Magazine, 3 July 2014

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