Sowing Seeds: A Harvest Café In The City Of Peace
By Nichole Dupont
Summer is nearing its end. We all knew it would come. I was driving along with my 13-year-old son, Lucian. We had just dropped my daughter off at a leadership event at Ramblewild. And we were starving (we are always on the brink of hangry). I pulled into the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, my gut filled with hope.
“Baby animals?” He was confused. Disappointed even. He is obviously “too old” for the baby animals.
“Food,” I said.
It was a beautiful day; the landmark Round Barn gleamed in the distance. But more importantly, the little chalkboard sign of Seeds Market Café, the village’s reimagined eatery, signified that it was open, and ready to feed these two ravenous sojourners.
We scoped out a table, picked up a menu and perused the one page roster of Shaker brown bread ($6), smoked trout rilletes ($13), grilled vegetable panzanella ($14), poached salmon with sweet corn salad ($17), a BLT with basil aioli ($13) — all a creative and authentic twist on Shaker sustenance, and all sourced from local growers and purveyors. The menu carries the creative signature of Chef Brian Alberg, executive chef and vice president of culinary development at the Red Lion Inn and Main Street Hospitality Group, who is known for his close ties to local farmers and seasonal eats.
“I’m definitely feeling a hamburger,” my predictable second child said.
“How about a lamb patty with potatoes?”
“Hmmm. Okay. I’ll try it. ”
I ordered at the counter, every few minutes glancing at the lone teen boy gulping chocolate milk by the window. A bittersweet image. Other families had found the place, some with HSV passes stuck to their shirts, others travelers like us who were drawn to the idyllic farm while they were passing through. I brought my fresh cup of No. Six Depot cold brew to the table and people-watched through the enormous windows.
“God, what a beautiful day,” I said.
“I can’t believe school is starting in two weeks.”
The food arrived, looking almost like a spread from Lucky Peach. Lucian’s “patty” ($10) was the size of a baseball mitt. Thick, not dry, sitting on top of a mountain of fingerling potatoes, a healthy pile of pre-dressed greens, all interspersed with bright, chunky, house-pickled veggies.
“Nice,” my son said. And dove in.
On my end there was no shame either. It has been years — literally years — since I helped myself to a ham and cheese sandwich ($13). And this one was an icebreaker like no other, thick with tavern ham and Berleberg cheese. My sandwich also arrived with greens and the jewel-hued pickled vegetables. I bit into a carrot slice and looked up at my son.
“Good, right?!” He was crunching on the broccoli.
They were sweet and tangy and the not even a little bit mushy. We could have easily eaten several servings with zero regrets. Once the plates were cleaned completely, we mulled over the idea of dessert — blueberry pie ($7), lemon curd & raspberries ($8), strawberry pound cake ($9), SoCo ice cream ($3/scoop) and milkshakes ($8).
“We’ll have to come back,” he said, shaking his head and patting his stomach a little. “The vegetables were like a dessert in a weird way.”
Lucian walked over to a shelf that was displaying products for purchase including Bola granola, salsa and sriracha from Kitchen Garden Farm, Fire Cider, Barrington Coffee Roasting Co. beans, and house-made trail mix.
“I don’t see the vegetables,” he said, clearly disappointed.
“Yeah, we’re coming back,” I reassured him. “Summer isn’t over yet.”
Seeds Market Café at Hancock Shaker Village
1843 West Housatonic St., Pittsfield, MA
Open daily through November 12, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.