by Nancy Macy
In the Berkshires, where award-winning chefs create deliciously satisfying meals, that have you scraping every last drop of savory sauce from under the garnish on your plate, there’s one important thing you must promise to remember next time you dine here: save room for dessert.
Of course, it’s a saying that sounds simple enough in theory, yet is sometimes way more difficult in practice. Often, you’ll find a Berkshire menu is so full of enticing dishes—from the appetizer to the soup to the main event—that it’s tough to pass up any of it. Resisting this kind of temptation requires the type of restraint not always found in people, who enjoy sitting down for good food that was made well.
So, you might ponder after an hour or so of emptying each plate in each course, who has even a smidge of appetite left to slide in a bite of chocolate ganache? Do it, I say. You’ll thank me later. One way to keep the indulgence down, just a little, is to order a dessert and share it. One cake, two spoons. In the right company, and in the perfect setting, this approach is also a romantic one.
When it comes to setting the stage for romance, The Old Inn On The Green in New Marlborough is an elegant choice. The dining room is lit entirely by candlelight and roaring fireplaces, as it has been since 1760. For dessert, try the crisp fruit tart or a deep bowl of house-made gelato, made daily by the inn’s talented pastry chef, Amanda, who was recently featured in a segment of Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten on the Food Network.
In downtown Lenox, head to Brava, where small bites are what’s on the menu for dinner and dessert. With its extensive selection of wine, beer, and single malt, this is also a good place to stop for a nightcap. Sit and sip with your sweetheart and nibble on a trio of handmade chocolates or spoonfuls of rich, creamy gelato from nearby Chocolate Springs.
If you’re headed along Route 7 in Lenox, just north of downtown, stop in at the Chocolate Springs store. Go when you have some time to settle into one of the comfy, overstuffed couches and enjoy a mug of Serious Hot Chocolate. There are also cakes, cupcakes, and individual chocolates for tasting, including a dark chocolate ganache square made with bourbon from Berkshire Mountain Distillers. Wow.
At Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield, you’ll find what might only be described as gorgeous cakes. While the takeout pastry menu here has lots of choices, two cakes stand out for a perfect romantic dinner. They are the moist and yummy Almond Roca and the layered chocolate Opera. The latter is a decadent confection made with dark chocolate ganache, mocha buttercream, and espresso syrup. It’s so luscious; you may want to keep this one to yourself or buy two.
You’ll find more baked goodness to take home or sit-in and enjoy at both Haven and the Patisserie in Lenox (each one has a second location in Great Barrington). The carrot cake from Haven is divine. The Patisserie offers authentic French pastries from meringues to brioche that taste like you’ve landed in a Parisian café. What’s more romantic than that?
Whether you’re dining in or out, desserts that are off-the-charts delicious are just another reason you’ll enjoy eating here in the Berkshires. When you’re asked if you’d like to see the dessert menu be sure to say, “yes!”