More than any other time of the year, right now the Red Lion Inn's quaint dining room feels perfect. Set in the Berkshires, the low-ceilinged room is stacked with nostalgia and stocked with the type of old-world charm that requires putting extra e's on some of those words. Olde worlde charm. There!
Glittering chandeliers that seem too grand for a country inn contrast with a roaring log-stoked fire burning in the lobby, where guests play board games. For dreams of white Christmases just like the ones someone used to know, this is it.
Once you've taken in the ambient nostalgia, there's chef Brian Alberg's farm country-inspired menu to tuck into. Alberg rightly centers on those now coveted Berkshire goodies, including much that's organic and sustainable -- an ethic carried through to the wine list, which includes biodynamic and organic wines.
Alberg doesn't add anything that isn't necessary. His team preps and cooks well, favoring solid cooking nous over fanciful creations. A fabulously fresh salad of tasty Berkshire greens includes a tangy but mild Rawson Brook goat cheese and smoked almonds for a bacon-y flavor. A light vinaigrette with a touch of maple syrup from Ioka Valley Farm in Hancock calmly ties it together. A traditional turkey plate matches naturally raised meat with mash, cranberry and scratch-made stuffing. A roasted Berkshire pork loin is trimmed with piquant red cabbage hash and creamed sweet potato that has no added sugary taste. The pork is cooked through until the center has only the faintest pink blush. Perfect.
And for dessert ...
For dessert, the Red Lion Inn’s lemon tart is a standout. It has a biscuity shortbread crust filled with robust lemon custard that’s the color of sunny summer dandelion flowers. A deep red tart raspberry coulis enhances the filling’s tantalizing tug-of-war between sweet and sour. The piece de resistance: whipped thick cream from High Lawn Dairy in nearby Lee. Imagine, a generation of Americans thought cream came canned and fat-free! Ha!
If you go
Red Lion Inn
30 Main St., Stockbridge