The University Club’s New England roots are evident not just in its creamy, New England-style clam chowder, but in its very building. Nestled in two colonial-era farmhouses, one of which is the oldest, most wrinkly house in Amherst, the eatery is a venerable institution to the history of Massachusetts. The Boltwood-Stockbridge house contains the Daniel Chester French room, named for the Lincoln Memorial Statue sculptor who lived there as a child, and the Tory room, where nine loyalists hid during the American Revolution.
Today, the loyalists have given way to diners feasting on fare that changes with the seasons. Dinners consist of upscale proteins such as new york strip steak, braised lamb shank, and pan-seared salmon complemented by a farmer’s-market risotto loaded with fresh local produce. Alternatively, lunchtime visitors—or diners sampling the bar’s lighter fare menu—can nosh on a Black Angus burger or a jalapeño crab-cake po' boy.
The talented roasters at Shelburne Falls Coffee—deemed Best of the Valley in 2009, 2010, and 2011 by Valley Advocate readers—percolate eight daily blends of organic, flavored, and single-origin coffees to entice tasters and nourish nostrils in a low-key, café environment. Guests can guzzle a regular cup of brewed coffee or add a splash of caramel-flavored milk, making sips as sweet and warming as a thank-you letter from a cupcake ($1.50–$3.21). After a hot cup of joe, cool off a piping-hot palate with the chai vanilla frozen blender—an enchanting swirl of homemade masala and exotic spices ($4.25). Acquire daily servings of fruits and breads without sneaking into the food pyramid with a fruit smoothie made of freshly squeezed orange juice ($4.50) and a bagel smeared with specialty olive or vegetable cream cheese ($3.30).
At Baku’s African Restaurant, which On the Menu calls “the place to go,” Nigerian-born Chichi Pat Ononibaku shares her love of made-from-scratch African fare with a menu of dishes crafted from recipes passed down through her family. Diners kick back while surrounded by tropical murals and yellow walls, peering into the kitchen where Ononibaku whips up black-eyed-pea fritters ($4.95). On the Menu says Baku’s African Restaurant “makes it impossible for its patrons not to love plantains,” which accompany the signature jollof rice along with curry chicken ($11.95) for a dish that’s more memorable than a baby panda handing you a winning lottery ticket. Savory aromas waft from curry goat meat, salmon, or lamb draped in the restaurant’s specialty curry-tomato sauce ($12.95–13.95). The gluten- and lactose-free menu also features pounded yams served with thick West African melon seed soup or nigerian stew ($12.95). The cozy dining room fills quickly with the clink of glasses bearing cinnamon iced tea ($1.95) or mango juice ($3.95), so some visitors may choose to take their meals to go or call ahead to make sure there’s space.
Goten of Japan serves authentic Japanese fare by way of hibachi-cooked entrees and a sleek and stylish sushi bar. The menu’s hibachi eats fill empty stomach boxes with hibachi chicken ($15.95), Japanese-style scallops ($22.50), and a veggie special ($14.50). Sushi bites, meanwhile, boast baked rolls ($7.50 to $12), fresh rolls, and sashimi staples. Kids under 10 can peruse a children’s menu replete with entrees (between $10.45 and $16.95) that perfectly fit miniature mouths.
Combing the finest farms for the freshest ingredients, Roadhouse Cafe dishes up wholesome, hearty breakfast and lunch options for the hungry denizens of Belchertown and beyond. An eye-opening menu of made-from-scratch fare awakens sleepy taste buds with all-natural, seasonal fixings. A local favorite, Roadhouse Cafe’s organic blueberry pancakes lure mouths across state lines, while organic omelettes ($7.95+), culled from fresh eggs from nearby Amish Farms and stuffed with choices such as fresh red peppers, mushrooms, and chives, inch morning’s approval ratings past 4:42 p.m.’s. Like meat pennies into a yeasty loafer, specialty paninis and sandwiches ($4.95–$6.95), pile hearty fillings into one of 12, soft homemade bread loaves ($4.50–$7.50). Chase your meal with a cup of fair-trade coffee ($2–$2.50), some hot, farm-fresh soup ($3.50–$5.50), or a silky smoothie ($5.75).
Bridge Side Grille serves up a heap of upscale pub fare, its menu awash with delectable dishes and locally produced beef. Relish in burgers such as the Black and Blue, a blackened 6-ounce slab of beef from nearby Millstone Farm Market that arrives stuffed with blue cheese, stamped with cajun spices, and drizzled in a creole sauce ($9.25). Fish-smitten diners can furnish their baleen plates with the haddock, baked with lemon butter and crumb topping ($14.95), or the scallops formaggio in an Asiago cream sauce ($16.95). On Thursday nights, patrons can chomp to the beat of coffeehouse-style tunes.