by: Shannon DeCelle
Caffe Pomo D’Oro
Depot St., West Stockbridge, Mass., (413) 232-4616. Serving
daily 8 AM-3 PM through the summer season; call for fall-winter
hours. Cash only.
price range: $5.75 (Pancalus or French Toast) to $8.95
(smoked trout sandwich)
the artful peasant
locals in the know, New Yorkers without a clue
Not that long ago, the village of West Stockbridge was something
you passed through, at 15 mph, while traveling between New
York state and Stockbridge or Great Barrington. You would
have been hard-pressed to imagine that, nearly 200 years ago,
this was a busy railroad stop and home to several iron works.
A few antiques shops and two local markets seemed to be about
all the little village had left to offer the weary traveler,
who therefore saw no reason not to keep going.
Things change, of course, and with the influx over the last
quarter-century of city folk yearning for more open spaces
in which to grow families and hone their creative talents,
West Stockbridge has become sort of like a mini-Woodstock,
minus the Birkenstocks and tie-dye. In addition to even more
antiques and crafts stores, there are restaurants catering
to the crowds that flock to the area, including Truc Orient
Express, La Bruschetta, Rouge, and, located at the site of
the old train station, Caffe Pomo D’Oro. Owner Scott Cole
(whom some might recall from the Albany music scene of a dozen
or so years ago) opened the place a decade ago, and it immediately
caught on with a local and transplant clientele ready for
a fresh spin on simple food.
It’s not hard to see why. Open for breakfast and lunch (no
dinner, as there was in an earlier era), Pomo D’Oro has an
easy charm and an informal, inviting ambience—indeed, a centerpiece
of the room is a table laden with the day’s baked goods. Works
by regional artists—when we visited, it was landscape painter
Harry Orlyk—hang on walls the color of freshly churned cream.
Various-size tables are arranged in the room, and there are
several more small ones outside on the deck. It’s a homey,
comfy place—if it’s not too crowded. This is not the ideal
location to bring that party of 12, just in for parents’ weekend
at a local camp. But more on that later.
Cole, who mans the stove, prepares simple food from fresh,
usually local, ingredients. For a recent breakfast, we tried
a little bit of everything: omelets made with three organic
eggs and stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, red onion and creamy
chevre; a fruit platter of melons, kiwis, bananas, grapes,
berries and citrus that was as aesthetically appealing as
it was downright tasty (the menu promises the freshest available
fruit they can find); buttermilk pancakes with Ioka Valley
Farms maple syrup, and outrageously good pastries like scones
and croissants, served with creamy butter and savory jams.
The eggs can come with either a side of toast and herb-roasted
potatoes, or lightly dressed baby greens. The multigrain bread
is a sturdy, pleasingly chewy raft for butter or cream cheese,
but the potatoes were a bit bland, all herb and not enough
butteriness. The greens, on the other hand, were lovely and
In the same week, we challenged the space constraints of Pomo
D’Oro when our party of eight, including three children, stopped
by for lunch. This is where the kitchen truly shines, serving
up hearty—but not too hearty—sandwiches on hearty bread from
Rock Hill Bakehouse with top-quality ham (including parma),
turkey, salami, beef tenderloin and salmon, not to mention
exquisitely grilled vegetables like portobello and eggplant.
These are straightforward sandwiches on which the toppings,
condiments, etc., are delicious but understated: They satisfy
without overdoing it, and they don’t leave a mess all over
your plate, your hands, or your lap. We also enjoyed the soup
of the day, mushroom barley, which benefited from an obviously
homemade, well-seasoned base. Salads featured mixes of fresh
organic baby or field greens, dressed lightly, and came with
the option of warmed chevre or, in the case of the insalata
pera, Berkshire Blue cheese. Everything save the soup ($4
for a cup or $5.50 for a bowl) ranged between $6.50 and $8.95.
In addition to decent coffee, the cafe also features an interesting
selection of Izze Natural Sodas (blackberry, clementine, pear,
etc.), Wild Fruitz Spritzers (try the huckleberry!) and birch
and root beers. The cooler refreshments were welcome when,
on both visits, we had to wait for some time to be seated.
And herein lies one of Caffe Pomo D’Oro’s few, but glaring,
problems: There seemingly is no system in place for handling
queuing people. Hoping in vain to be able to give our name
and the number of our party to somebody—anybody—we instead
watched as recently vacated and still-unbussed tables were
snatched up by later-arriving parties. It’s sort of a Manhattan
dog-eat-dog mentality transported to the bucolic Berkshires,
and it proved so frustrating that some parties during both
our visits ended up going home for “toast on the patio.”
The smallness of the space, something that can’t be helped,
contributes to the frustration you feel when waiting to get
somebody’s attention in order to let them know you’ve got,
say, a party of five. Waiters hurtle past you, clearly annoyed
at having to navigate your presence, and having been in the
business, I can empathize. But without even a waiting list,
and with impatient city folks literally pushing past you to
seat themselves at an uncleared table, you’re disinclined
to clear out of the way and wait outside, or walk around this
very pleasant neighborhood, for fear you’ll never get seated.
I highly recommend Pomo D’Oro, which translates to “apple
of gold,” for quiet, early-morning breakfasts, midday lunches
for two to four, or luxurious mid-afternoon noshes of the
cafe’s mouthwatering desserts, perhaps with a pot of tea or
café au lait. Whatever annoyance you might feel from having
been scolded by a waitress for standing too close to the door
is forgotten in a mouthful of freshly baked peach pie, its
filling redolent of lush summer ripeness, its pastry divinely
moist and buttery. I can forgive a restaurant nearly everything,
with hopes that it’ll work out before my next visit, for a
taste this good.
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very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..