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|"Solid American - Continental inventions in a high, wide,
and handsome setting, just across from the Town Hall green in Great Barrington."
Conde Nast Traveler, October 1991
|"For its superior food, reasonable prices, and extraordinarily
convivial atmosphere, Castle Street rates as one of the Berkshire's very
||The Berkshire Book
|"Castle Street Cafe has established itself as one of the
premier restaurants in the county, surpassing almost all the higher priced
||New England Monthly, July 1990
|"Serious, clever food at moderate prices in a handsome,
high-ceilinged storefront room."
||Travel and Leisure, March 1990
Dinner and a movie
The Castle Street Café and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center offer a sweet deal
By Sharon Smullen, Special to The Berkshire Eagle
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Early diners enjoy the Castle Streett Café on Monday evening.|
Photos by Darren Vanden Berge / Berkshire Eagle Staff
After a busy weekend and a day's toil at work setting up the week, who wants to cook when they get home? Instead, head on over to Great Barrington for the weekly "Monday Night Dinner and a Movie," courtesy of the Castle Street Café and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.
Run by Chef Proprietor Michael Ballon since 1989, the Castle Street Café consists of a bright and welcoming dining room, reached via the more atmospheric and dimly lit Celestial Bar where friends and couples chat at intimate tables and long banquettes.
At this time of year, the restaurant offers a fixed price menu from Sundays to Thursdays (closed Tuesdays) for the reasonable price of $21.95, excluding tip and tax. But on Mondays, through mid-June, diners additionally receive a free ticket (normally $6) to the Monday Night Movie at the Mahaiwe next door.
Movie fans have been quick to take advantage of this week-night opportunity. All my family love seeing the classic titles featured on the bill, and so on a drizzly April evening we traveled to South County ready for a great night out. The family-friendly start-time of 7 p.m. makes this outing doable even on a school night - if homework allows, of course.
The prix fixe menu included two choices of appetizer and entree, along with coffee, tea and dessert. It not being quite cold enough, we passed on the wild mushroom soup, and instead chose the mixed green salad, with a creamy Dijon vinaigrette adorning the fresh, crunchy leaves.
Our bread basket came filled with warm potato onion bread from Berkshire Mountain Bakery in nearby Housatonic. I'm told Chef Ballon is a long-standing fan of this savory, crusty loaf, filled with nuggets of roasted russet potatoes and Spanish onions.
For the main course, my husband chose the filet of sole, stuffed with spinach in a lemon butter sauce, and served with a pillow of fluffy rice. He tells me it was delicious, but I confess I forgot to ask for a taste once my own plate arrived, bearing a plump, juicy sirloin steak topped with a huge slow-roasted onion, served with a thyme and port sauce on a bed of smooth mashed potatoes.
Carving slices off the generous meat portion revealed a picture-perfect balance of browned exterior and rare interior, while the golden onion brought an edge of sweetness to each mouthful.
Both entrees came with fresh vegetables that included slender baby carrots, crisp green beans and firm broccoli florets.
While a la carte chicken finger and pasta kid-fare is available, the children shared a steak dinner, which more than satisfied their growing appetites.
They eyed each other warily as they divvied up the pale, spongy, frosted layers of lemon roulade with its fruity raspberry sauce - too good to waste even a smear on the plate.
Seared Breast of duck with warm Asian slaw, topped with crispy noodles, toasted cashews and a sweet soy ginger vinaigrette.|
After a long dark winter, it was a pleasure to dine in the late afternoon light. An increase in sidewalk traffic made almost every table in the room check watches to see how much time was left to linger over coffee and tea.
Moviegoers are encouraged to arrive for dinner around 5:30 p.m. for relaxed dining in time to see the classic film trailers. Blockbusters of days gone by such as "Bonnie and Clyde," and the epic grandeur of "Gone With The Wind," have never looked better on the big screen.
Our movie feature was the hilarious, outrageous "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" - a tribute to inimitable British humor. The audience was particularly enthusiastic, with abundant cheers, whoops and applause.
I'm sure we'll all be back to see the Marx Brothers in "Room Service" on Monday, or perhaps "Raiders of the Lost Ark" on May 28 (with no prix fixe that night, there's a chance to sample the regular menu).
"Dinner and a Movie" has become a magnet for movie fans, especially for locals looking for an easy evening out without any travelling. So round up some pals, bring a date, or even the whole family, for perhaps the best dining and entertainment deal in town.
Castle Street Cafe, 10 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230 413.528.5244
Castle Street Cafe Gift Certificates are available in any denomination.
In addition to the delicious dishes that come directly from the Castle Street Café menu, Chef Ballon has included traditional favorites from around the world. All the recipes have been carefully adapted for the home chef and include instructional photographs of the preparation and handling of ingredients.
240 pages, Illustrated
$22.50 & $4.50 shipping and handling
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