A recent road trip to the Berkshire Museum to take in the Ansel Adams exhibit involved a stop in the area for lunch. Tripadvisor.com pointed us towards Alta Restaurant and Wine Bar, the highest rated restaurant in the Berkshires, located in Lenox. We got in around 12:30 and were seated immediately, it was pretty empty, but filled a bit by 1:00.
Alta is the sort of place that would fit right in in downtown Saratoga Springs. They’ve got the whole natural food thing going with a touch of the eclectic, a little more expensive that you think it might cost, and a limited menu allowing them to focus on getting a few things right. The short review is that, like most of these places, it was pretty good, but nowhere I’d go out of my way to visit again.
First, if you do happen to go when they’re busy and want to have a conversation – well, good luck with that. With just a few small groups the room we were in was very loud, I can’t even imagine what it’s like on a Saturday night filled with groups pounding down the wine.
The service was attentive but not overbearing. The food tasted fresh.
We went with the turkey burger with fries and the Paris with fries. We were warned that the turkey burger would take a while to took thoroughly, which seemed a little odd, but was fine and, yes, it was thick enough to justify the 15 minutes of cooking – I have to think that means they’re not squashing it down and squeezing all the juice out of it – so that’s good. My Paris wrap was decidedly interesting and I’d call it an OK near-miss.
The menu lists the ingredients as: Ham, Brie, Apple, Caramelized Onion, Romaine Lettuce. The lettuce was fresh tasting for this time of year, but present in slightly too large a quantity. The caramelized onion was pretty much useless – I could see it, there was plenty of it there, but the flavor was not. The apple was thin slices of granny smith, soft and sad this time of year and I had to second guess their inclusion, or even the inclusion of the wrap itself this time of year if they’re to be featured. The brie combined with ham was a flavor combo that took me a few bites to wrap my tastebuds around, but they did sort of work together (I did find myself wishing the tart crispness of the apple was present to work with them, though). However, the ham was basically just slices of deli ham piled in a block and the brie was all in a sort of tube of cheese in one part of the wrap. The wrap itself was a sort of multigrain affair, lightly toasted to lock it together.
The main problem was the same as that experienced with a weak burrito where everything is all spread out so you’re not getting a bite of multiple things, just individual tastes here and there. It was either a big blob of semi-melted brie, ham, or, most of the time, lettuce. Unlike a burrito where you can do some twisting and squishing, the toasted, sort of flattened wrap was not flexible enough to allow for it, so I was stuck eating a bit of this, a bit of that, etc.
As usual, I’ve probably focused too much on the negative. All in all it was pretty decent and, with fries for $11 wasn’t a bad deal. The burger went over well. The fries were a mix of hand cut sweet and regular potatoes, just very slightly undercooked leaving them a touch shy of crispy, but they were tasty. I don’t usually go for sweet potato fries, but these were pretty good.
Given that the vast majority of other top reviewed restaurants were pizza joints and pubs, this was a pretty decent stop. My wrap, while suffering from weak apples and poorly-thought-out assembly, mostly boasted quality ingredients. There were a couple of other things on the menu that looked good, also.
So, while I wonder if dinner would be more exciting, I sort of hope this isn’t the best the Berkshires have to offer. It was a perfectly fine stop for lunch and you will likely be satisfied with a meal at Alta if you’re passing through Lenox.
And sodas were only $2 – a bargain it seems nowadays.