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Great Plates, Eat Out - Plus Events
Capsule Reviews Gathered in Our Travels - GET YOUR FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT RIGHT HERE

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FOOD NEWS

JK Crossroads - E. Templeton (formerly Olson's) It is rare to find a restaurant that fires perfectly on all cylinders and gets everything right, but Crossroads is it. Crisp fresh side salads, quick seating even on a busy Friday night. Fresh oil in the fry-olator for some of the best fish and chips in the region and a perfect prime rib -- all at reasonable prices. At the intersection of Route 2A and 101 in East Templeton.

New Salem General Store - Full deli with soup and good take-out sandwiches. Boar's Head meats. Pizza on Fridays. "Home cooked" breakfasts. No place to sit inside.

The Country Store - in Petersham open again in 2014 with good soups and a creative sandwich menu until 3 p.m.

1880 House - Closed - The 1880 House in Orange, a great stop along the way for a sandwich and coffee, closed. The restaurant offered an interesting menu of salads, wraps, grilled wraps and 11 different toasted paninni. 

Tea Garden Asian Grill, the former Chef Wok near Athol Town Hall and Starrett's. Quick service, food served hot and reasonable lunch prices.

Anne's Dairy Drive-in, on 2A - closed  for season.

ASIAN CHOICES are to be found in the region and China Gourmet, just east of the Route 2 Rotary on Route 2A in Greenfield need apologize to no one. It is the best of the regional bunch. A robust banquet of traditional Asian offerings has been augmented by fresh sushi dishes. Just a good place for those who aspire to eat with chopsticks.

Looking for Lunch in Gardner? Stop in for the buffet at Yen Yen near Ocean State Job Lot and Aubuchon Hardware. Fresh Bok Choy and gingery sauces on offer along with a bottomless bowl of tasty hot and sour soup. Lunches under $10.

Shelburne Coffee Roasters on Route 2. Pastries and  locally roasted fresh coffee. A good quick stop when out on the road.


Tea House Restaurant, 326 East Main, Orange. A friendly staff  along with a broad selection of typical Asian food dishes makes The Tea House a permanent and much welcomed addition to the area's list of restaurants.

The Big Fish - Inland Waterway - Miami, FL. If you get to Miami, definitely go to this place. Sit outside on the stone quay by the canal and watch the manatee chase the minnows. The tug boats and cargo ships alone are the best show in town. Even if the Italian seafood was not excellent, this would be worth a visit.

Yummy Garden - South Barre - Uninspiring but capable presentation of Sichuan and Cantonese dishes. Capable service and fresh ingredients. The hot and sour soup is pretty good and lunch from the special menu is under seven bucks.

Country Mischief - Templeton Common. We had a good potato and leek soup the other day. If you have to shop for kitschy Americana, then stop for lunch at the same time.

McCusker's Market - Miller's Falls, a grocery with a deli full of tasty sandwiches and dishes. McCusker's is busy on spring and autumn weekends, packed full of good energy. A great place to stop for a sandwich and some soup with coffee. The deli has a broad selection of tasty cheeses.

202 Restaurant and Driving Range - Herrick's Tavern. On the Daniel Shays Highway near Route 2. Enthusiastic young staff delivers reasonably priced entrees for lunch, at the outdoor window and in the Tavern. They also have batting cages and live music.

Daniel Shays Package Store in Orange has very good sandwiches. The burgers are the best around and the  folks there are plenty friendly. We like that. We tried them. We liked them, especially the burgers. No place to sit inside.

Seven Dragons or is it eight? - Victory Plaza, Athol. Don't go there.

McDonalds - Route 2A and Daniel Shays Highway. What can we say? Eat in or take out. Need a burger for a buck?  Or a chicken sandwich for the same price? Go here. Cheapest eat in the region short of the Orange Food Pantry - where the food is free.

New England Sea Food Restaurant - Near the State Police Barracks Upper Common, Athol. The only seafood restaurant that features theme weeks  like "Mexican" and "Southwest" cuisine. Eat here if you like fish or fried and your friend wants something else.

 

 

LOCAL FAVES

high tides re staurant

High Tides Seafood Restaurant and Seasonal Ice Cream Bar - Barre/Petersham town line on Route 122. Host John Flagg has opened a full-featured seafood restaurant with meals featuring ample portions of fresh seafood, reasonable prices and a deft touch in the kitchen. The sandwich menu is all seafood oriented, baked or fried, but includes three burgers and a foot long hot dog. High Tides is open for lunch and dinner, Thursdays through Sundays. Beverage choices include bottled beers, draft beers, house wines by the glass and mixed drinks. Flagg has  enlarged the former Karen's Country Pantry into a very welcome addition to the area's dining choices. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. - noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays

quabbin woods

Quabbin Woods - sit down here for a family friendly menu right here on Barre Road. When the flag is out, it's open. Weekend breakfast  is a big draw.

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Lucky Dragon - Winchendon - on Route 202. If we had a ratings system, this place would be near top of our list. Lucky Dragon makes the best hot and sour soup for miles around, ingredients of an extensive menu are totally fresh. Service is fast and friendly, prices reasonable. Really, it's only 15 minutes from Petersham Common and worth the trip.

Hardwick House of Pizza - Pizza and subs are standard here but on Fridays, the scallops are the best around - but don't wait, they often sell out. If that happens, a good second choice is the fish and chips.

Picasso, a Mediterranean Grill, The Common, Barre in the space formerly known as Ricco's.  -  A fresh and interesting menu with a Mediterranean touch. Entrees hovering around $20.

Miller's River Cafe (inside Trailhead Gifts in Orange) -- sandwiches, etc.

Miss Saigon - Next to the fire station in Amherst in a strip mall and hard to see as you drive by, but certainly worth stopping for an extensive Vietnamese menu including Vietnamese hot and sour soup  and Pho. If you haven't found it, find it. Try it.

Hardwick House of Pizza in Gilbertville. Go there on Fridays for the seafood. Pizza store ambiance.

Northeast Pizza in the Quabbin shopping plaza on Route 122 in Barre offers no surprises, no excitement, just a dependable standard offering of pizza, salads, subs and Calzones. A small sub monthly special. The food is hot and good and served quickly with a smile. Prices are average.

McKusker's Market, Shelburne Falls, produces fresh and healthy sandwich choices for residents and travelers. Dean's Beans supplies the coffee and the cookies are to die for.

Lazy Mary's Pizzeria & Bakery in Hardwick. Closed - For Sale.

The Ale House - downtown Gardner -
is a comfortable space that has operated in the past as Papillon and as Il Forno.  In this incarnation, the same brick walls are the main decoration. A retort for micro-brewing has been added at the rear. We stopped for lunch the other day and tried a rack of ribs, a pastrami reuben and a burger. Beverages included two cups of coffee and a lemonade. The ribs were the best of the three offerings with a thick sauce. The service was excellent and the ribs were good. The burger was pedestrian and the pastrami decidedly middle of the road. For $57 (including tip) we  expected better.

Pete n' Henry's - We took a ride by Pete and Henry's in Royalston the other day and wondered how we had strayed so far and so long from a regional classic. If you hanker for heaps of fries and clams with bellies - beef or a personal pizza - go there. Its still a traditional New England roadside seafood and other stuff kind of place even though the original owners have long since passed  it on to new owners willing to keep on doing what works. Head north on 202 and turn left just under Route 2. It's out there in South Royalston.

Johnson's Sugarhouse Restaurant and Gift Shop. Wheeler Ave., Orange. Roadside, Done Right! The Johnson family has grown from a farm to a sugar house to a restaurant and gift house. We stopped on a Friday to sample the spare ribs. A slightly sweet, with a maple-flavored sauce just slid off the bone. A true delight. Home-made doughnuts, biscuits and a fair weather side porch for ice cream makes this drive into the country truly worth traveling - and sometimes waiting - for. Johnson's is no secret, so arrive early or plan to wait.. 

Patriots Roast Beef and Grill, East Templeton. Settled into an extended doublewide trailer on the edge of an auto repair shop parking lot, the owners have been serving up great pastrami, ribs and roast beef and have recently added pizza. Modest prices and quick service combine to make this a real surprise. Across the street from the Cumberland Farms on Patriots Road.

Judie's - 51 N. Pleasant St. Amherst. Busy, bustling, traditional and not so. Try the popovers. Heavens, they're tasty.

Latchis Grille, 6 Flat St., Brattleboro VT. New American cuisine, elegant, relaxed. On-site brewery.

Miss Saigon - Main Street, Amherst. Excellent for those who appreciate Vietnamese food.

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:Chopsticks - Near Searstown and the State Police barracks in Leominster. Dynamite Sunday afternoon buffet. Best hot and sour soup every day. Good at all others times as well.

 Pizza Factory - Center of Orange - Another as expected menu with quick service on subs and pizza. Takeout and delivery available.

Amherst Chinese - Fresh, local and organic in season - a large vegetarian menu. A tasty institution.

King Philip Restaurant - Route 2A - Philipston - One of the busiest in the area because it's a prime rib kind of place with a comfortable lounge. The wait staff has its act together in a very busy kitchen but the food is not particularly inspired. Outdoor food and ice cream.

Athol House of Pizza - aka AHOP -A veteran with the expected toppings and reasonable prices for sandwiches and pizza. A wide selection of dinner items. Moderately priced. Open 7 days. Delivers in Athol.

Del Raye Bar & Grille, 1 Bridge St., Noho. Swanky like in New York. French-American menu. Panda Garden East, Boltwood Walk, Amherst. Try the Chicken with Spicy Tea Sauce. Better than average hot and sour soup, too.