The grill masters at Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse stay true to their culinary roots with a distinctly South American cooking tradition, which begins with hormone-free meat from cows that were fed a vegetable-only diet and raised on pastures instead of in cages. Manning a cast-iron grill stoked by locally sourced hardwoods, the expert chefs fire-kiss select cuts of beef to smoky perfection, infusing filet mignons, skirt steaks, and short ribs with rustic flavors that pair harmoniously with the restaurant’s robust selection of Argentinean red wines.
Although Caminito’s wood-fired steaks have earned it the Valley Advocate’s award for Best Steak House from 2010 through 2013, the menu proves that the restaurant does not live and die by expertly charred beef. Lobster-filled ravioli, pan-seared salmon, and seasoned chicken breasts showcase the kitchen team’s culinary repertoire, in addition to vegetarian entrees that aren't just snapshots of steak printed on soy paper. Refreshing sips of ale from Peak Organic Brewing Company complement hearty bites, and spoonfuls of flan and mousse bring meals to their bittersweet conclusion. On weekends, the acoustic strumming of guitarist Alvaro Olvera Sanchez nourishes famished ears with flamenco notes and classic Spanish songs.
The menu at Eclipse doesn’t just rotate with the seasons—it changes on a daily basis. Inspired by the most recent bounty of asparagus or basil at the farmers' market, Eclipse’s chefs craft contemporary entrees featuring meats such grass-fed beef from nearby Upland Meadow Farm, instead of ice-fed beef from Pluto. They lavish these creations with gourmet flavorings such as gorgonzola compound butter, black-currant glaze, and wasabi cream, and draw inspiration from international culinary traditions, turning out dishes such an eggplant baingan bharta. Diners spear their cornish game hen or housemade basil-lasagna noodles while lounging outdoors or surrounded by the dining room’s exposed-brick and soft-yellow walls. On the weekends, live jazz music flits through the air, giving diners an excuse to munch in quiet camaraderie instead of arguing politics, religion, and the usefulness of sporks.
Behind the rust-red façade of The Brewmaster’s Tavern, a brick fireplace casts rough-hewn pillars and long tables in a soft glow. The historic tavern dates back to 1812 and may have once hosted the nation’s founding fathers for rounds of grog and annual wig swaps. Now, The Brewmaster’s chefs pay homage to New England’s culinary legacy with meats marinated in beer and sherry sauces alongside tender chunks of seafood baked in flaky pastry crusts.
Determined to introduce the public’s collective palate to creative Asian-inspired food, the cooks at Noodles prepare their namesake dish following both traditional Thai recipes and their own unique formulas. They craft a multitude of soups ranging from the classic udon noodle soup to the unconventional nava noodle soup, which combines seafood, minced chicken, fish balls, fish cake, and crushed peanuts in a spicy lime broth.
Customers shouldn’t let the name fool them, though—the culinary team has more than noodles and broths in their wheelhouse. They also prepare six meat-based rice bowls and 10 salads that combine ingredients such as steamed shrimp, mint, crushed peanut, and carrots. The chefs also have their own specialties, including shrimp and tofu curry and Duck in Red—roasted duck simmered in panang-curry sauce and topped with string beans, bell peppers, and herbs. This is not to be confused with Duck in White—a female duck on her wedding day.
When China invaded Tibet, Thondup and Dolma Tsering's family escaped to India, and the two children enrolled in school for Tibetan children. They graduated and eventually moved to the United States in 1997, where they founded a business that would celebrate their culture: Lhasa Cafe. Today, as the cafe celebrates it's tenth anniversary, chef Tenzin Tsewang leads the staff at the restaurant, and Thondup and Dolma can still be found helping out around their authentic Tibetan restaurant on weekends. In the kitchen, chef Tenzin and Namdol cook all dishes to order and make dumplings in-house from scratch; they use only fresh ingredients and refuse to use MSG or decorative glitter.
The staff follows recipes according to the Tibetan culinary tradition, which incorporates subtle seasoning and a lot of ginger, garlic, and the emma peppercorn. There?s also an emphasis on yak meat, which is lean and low-cholesterol and tastes comparable to beef. It takes center stage in dishes such as traditional mo-mo dumplings, pan-fried noodle dishes, and stews. Also on the menu: vegetable dumplings, vegetarian noodle soups, and lamb and chicken curries.
Tangerine-colored walls and colorful prints from the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, embody the spirit of the visual- and performing-arts celebrations for which Spoleto East Longmeadow—a member of the Spoleto Restaurant Group—is named. Yet, the inspiration doesn’t stop in South Carolina. Across the Atlantic, in Spoleto, Italy, the annual Festival of the Two Worlds showcases the Umbria region's dance, drama, cinema, and opera. The two yearly festivals in Charleston serve as the stateside mirror images of the Italian original. Spoleto restaurant owner Claudio Guerra has fond memories of taking part in these festivities with his mother as a child, and so christened his restaurants after them in homage.
Like the Northampton location before it, the East Longmeadow site offers a lively atmosphere and traditional Italian dishes such as stone-baked pizzas topped with cremini mushrooms and veal saltimbocca with fresh sage and marsala sauce. Diners can personalize their experiences by opting for the restaurant's multicourse meal option, or by carving their likenesses into meatballs before eating them.