Former Neighborhood Diner Spruces Up As GB Eats
Photo courtesy GB Eats.
By Hannah Van Sickle Barrett
It is screen door season at GB Eats, the newly rejuvenated and increasingly trendy dining spot at 282 Main Street in Great Barrington, Mass., owned and operated by Chef Pierre Cum and his wife Candice Rischner. The beautifully updated face of the former Neighborhood Diner, owned and operated by Cum for the past 18 years, reflects the extensive Main Street construction project that has just recently concluded with the planting of several New Bradford flowering pear trees along the red brick and poured concrete sidewalk that welcomes diners. From behind an entire wall of eastern-facing plate glass windows that offer a glimpse of the greening Berkshire Hills and newly unfurling red maples in the distance, Cum is turning out plate after plate of gorgeously presented food that reflects a daring foray into myriad regions while locally sourcing ingredients wherever possible; this marriage has resulted in some seriously creative dishes that run the gamut from traditional to edgy.
GB Eats first caught my attention as a coffee connoisseur; the gleaming black and chrome beast of a LaSpaziale espresso machine behind the counter churns out an impressive “Black Eye” ($4), a double shot of espresso in either the house blend Monsoon Malabar or French Roast coffee, both from Chris’ Coffee in Albany. And, just in time for summer, they offer a nitro brew iced coffee: nitrus-infused coffee, cold brewed in-house, before being run off of the tap for a velvety, thick texture not unlike coffee’s version of a Guinness stout.
On a recent Saturday morning, amidst the din of clinking silverware and dishes, there is a steady stream of buttermilk pancakes ($7.50) coming from the kitchen, served with pure maple syrup from the Catskills of New York and a house-made blueberry compote. The kale breakfast salad ($9) is a favorite, served with bacon, white cheddar and house-made maple balsamic dressing; two variations on Eggs Benedict, one with house-made crab cakes ($12) and the other with house-made French potato cakes as a base ($10), boast the additions of avocado and arugula. My favorite barista/server, Michael, enthusiastically suggests the shakshuka and reports that “people are actually coming in” for this traditional North African dish that was adopted by the Israelis and added to the menu after Cum’s daughter spent a semester abroad in Israel. The shakshuka ($10) comes in a cast-iron skillet brimming with three eggs poached in stewed tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes and feta cheese with a side of toasted ciabatta.
While breakfast is served daily until 3 p.m., there are some equally interesting lunch/dinner items to choose from. The chopped cobb salad ($12) is a refreshing twist on the classic and features grilled antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken breast with bacon, apples, smoked gouda, red onion and boiled eggs. The roasted vegetable salad ($12), featuring roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and parsnips with feta cheese and roasted pepitas on a bed of mixed greens is both impressive and popular; both come tossed in a house-made maple balsamic vinaigrette. There is a grilled brisket sandwich ($11), house made with Black Angus beef, and a Berkshire melt ($10) featuring fresh mozzarella, avocado, tomato and basil pesto on grilled Berkshire Mountain Bakery sourdough. In addition to two takes on a burger, one classic ($11) and the GB Burger ($11) featuring blue cheese and bacon drizzled with sriracha and house-made aioli, the pork banh mi ($10), crab cake Po Boy ($11) and Cali BLT ($10) reflect both Cum and Rischner’s love of travel and desire to keep up with what’s new on the food scene.
This upscale cafe reflects the many changes happening in Great Barrington; it is also a symbolic collaboration for this husband-wife team who are working together for the first time to create GB Eats. While Cum mans the kitchen, Rischner runs the front of the house and is wholly responsible for all of the house-made accompaniments and baked goods. Her salted caramel cookies are incredible, and they share space on a domed cake plate with a lemon-blueberry version as well as the more traditional chocolate chunk. There is a rotation of fresh pies, currently featuring rhubarb in a nod to the first of the local produce, and the glass case is stocked with house-made carrot cake, cheesecake, and peanut butter pie. Ice cream from The Scoop, in Lenox, is also featured; on this day they were offering two flavors, Chai Tea and Oreo Espresso.
The vibe in GB Eats is decidedly upbeat; a series of bold art prints by Robert Peterson and Menashe Kadishman line the walls of the 55-seat dining space. They’re the work of Rischner’s father, printer and publisher Adi Rischner, formerly of Styria Studio in SoHo. The clean lines and bright colors in these works reflect the fresh and unique eatery where they hang.
GB Eats is well worth a visit. Its location in the Barrington House puts the restaurant right in the center of downtown Great Barrington and all this bustling town has to offer.
282 Main St., Great Barrington, MA
Beginning Memorial Day weekend, open every day 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.