Monday, July 15, 2013

The Farm Table at Kringle Candle (Bernardston, MA)

Having grown up in Bernardston, a small town that until a few years ago was best known for being the last exit on Interstate 91 before Vermont (aka, not known at all), I was extremely excited when Kringle Candle Company came into being, adding a major business to a town that otherwise lacked for them, especially following the closure of the much beloved Aldo's Harley Davidson.  Kringle, which is the brainchild of Yankee Candle Company founder Michael Kittredge, was opened almost as soon as the non-compete agreement Kittredge signed when he sold Yankee Candle expired.  In building it, along with his son, Kittredge brought not just a factory, but a showroom and a fine dining restaurant, following a similar path to the Yankee Candle flagship store in South Deerfield, MA. 

The Farm Table at Kringle Candle, colloquially "Farm Table" follows the theory espoused by its name, where ingredients are sourced locally and the food has very little diversion between the farm and your table.  Like Chandler's Restaurant at Yankee Candle, Farm Table is a high end restaurant, and thus expensive; unlike Chandler's, Farm Table will allow you to get in and out without spending your entire paycheck if you order properly.  Farm Table's menu includes a half dozen brick oven pizzas, all of which are somewhat reasonably priced ($12-16), and the entrees include several relatively affordable options.  The appetizers are somewhat expensive, but a few of them can be ordered as a smaller, and thus cheaper, portion.  Since I was going with my mother, who does not have nearly the appetite I do, I had both my own entree and a couple slices of her pizza.

I went with the Summer Pasta, which can also be ordered as a small or large portion (though at just a $3 difference, I question why anyone would order the small), and it was a little disappointing.  It is a simple dish, just some penne pasta, nut free pesto, grilled chicken and confit cherry tomatoes with Pecorino Romano shaved on top, and some aspects of it worked exceptionally well, but it was completely undone by the chicken.  Cut into bite sized and smaller pieces, the chicken was overcooked and dry, making it completely unappetizing and hard to eat.  The pesto, which tasted quite good, was far too oily, leaving a greasy feel to the chicken and pasta at the bottom of the dish.  The pasta itself was good, well cooked, though I strongly suspect it was not homemade.  The best part of the dish was the tomato; as a huge fan of cherry tomatoes in general, and of almost anything confit, it was a really nice addition, as the sweetness set off the earthiness of the pesto and pasta, and almost made up for the failure of the chicken.  Overall, I'd say this is a dish I would not order again, simply because of the chicken, but if they could rectify that issue it would be solid, and at $18, it is the cheapest entree on the menu, and not out of line with what you would pay at many other, less "fancy" places.

My mother's pizza, on the other hand, was very good, likely the best north of The Hungry Ghost in Northampton; in fact, I suspect that most people would prefer Farm Table's, as it is a little further from true Neapolitan.  The crust is a little thicker than my ideal, but is very tasty, and the texture is just right for its thickness, crisp on the bottom and chewy on the inside.  The Spanish Pizza that my mom got has house made chorizo, fresh garlic, egg, smoked local mozzarella, Manchego and fresh herbs over a roasted tomato sauce.  I'll admit that I could not really taste the egg, even when I knew I was biting directly into it, as I felt it was overshadowed by the sauce and especially the chorizo, and I would never have guessed that the mozzarella was smoked, but it tasted delicious nonetheless.  The chorizo is great, though not spicy as I expect with that sausage variety, but it does not suffer for that.  Overall the pizza is very well done, and I would strongly suggest getting one of them, either as an appetizer to share, or as a meal.  Be aware, however, that they are not large, around six to eight small pieces; I would have eaten the entire thing easily, and as it was we finished it despite the fact that I only had two pieces.

Farm Table's beer list is decent, with a good mix of local and national craft breweries represented at the taps and some very good bottle options.  The growing number of gluten free eaters will be pleased to know that many of the items on the menu either come gluten free or can be made gluten free for a small up-charge, including the pizza.  The spirits list is fine, and includes some higher end whisky, like the massively overpriced Johnny Walker Blue ($50, despite going for only about $200 wholesale, or less) and Macallan 25 Year ($75; this is an exceptionally rare scotch, and I have seen it as high as $125 a shot, but still, this is absurd, as it takes about a third of the bottle, at most, to recoup the cost), and some really good options on the more affordable end like BenRiach 16 ($10) and Talisker Distillers Edition ($19).  Whistle Pig Rye ($10) is probably the most intriguing American whiskey option, but there are several good ones to choose from.

All in all, for the price you are paying, I think there are probably better options food-wise in the area, but the ambiance is nice, the location is beautiful, and the option to sit outside in nice weather is not to be under-appreciated.  I will likely go again, as I would like to try some more things, but it is not somewhere that I will find myself drooling over.


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