Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Having now lived in the Berkshires for about four years, you would think we've eaten at just about everywhere in the county by now—almost, but not quite. There was always one place that me and Chris had always heard about; The Bistro Box. A roadside eatery serving up summertime fare that, apparently, has the best tomato bacon jam that'll have you talking about it weeks later. Unfortunately for me, the one day of the week they're always closed is Wednesdays—the one and only day off I used to get. So for years, I was always unable to go, but thankfully last fall I switched jobs and now it's much easier for me to get days off. And really, having more than just one day off is something that everyone should have, including me. And now that I have more days off you know what I'm gonna do? I'm FINALLY (after four years) going to experience this place everyone was talking about—The Bistro Box.
So like I said, The Bistro Box is a roadside eatery...that's always PACKED, especially when the sun is shining brightly.
Easily located right off Main Street in Great Barrington, this unassuming shack is cooking up all sorts of mouth-watering meals to please all palettes and ages. You can order to go, or eat in (but really out) at one of the many picnic tables, high top tables (repurposed wooden cable spools), or anywhere on their amazingly vast green lawn and dine in the company of a mountain. With plenty of space to play in, and plenty of games to play with, The Bistro Box is an excellent setting for an impromptu family picnic, workers on their lunch break, or just a couple of competitive millennials.
When we arrived mid-afternoon on a Monday, the line for the order window was already about 8 people deep. The long line was intimidating, but what better proof that the food is good than a line of people willing to wait for it. Luckily they managed to keep the line moving pretty quickly considering that they probably only have half the staff of a typical kitchen, and they were KILLING IT! While we were standing in line debating what to get, my mouth started to water just looking at their offerings. Parmesan truffle fries with parmesan cheese and truffle oil, their box burger with cheddar cheese and that heavenly tomato bacon jam (WHHAAATT??), or their Asian salad with cucumbers, carrots, red peppers, edamame, crispy wonton sticks, black sesame seeds, and mixed greens with a sesame ginger vinaigrette. Oh but we HAD to get their grilled hot dog with local sauerkraut, caramelized onions, and a cheddar ale sauce on a grilled buttered bun! If your mouth isn't watering by now... I dunno, something might be wrong with you.
After ordering our food we were given a buzzer coaster to let us know when our order is ready, so we didn't need to hover over the 'pick up' counter, and instead, we could pick our seats on the ever so pristine lawn. And now we had more tough choices; did we want a high top? An Adirondack chair? A picnic table next to the corn hole? Or a high top next to a different game of corn hole? MAN the choices! We decided on a high top near the other corn hole set, so while we wait, let's place a quick game! (or two) Chris grabbed the bean bags, but then froze in place, he suddenly made the connection why it was called 'corn hole'... the bag was filled with corn kernels...Now, maybe everyone in the world knew this–but let me just say, unapologetically it BLEW MY MIND! As we were laughing about how painfully obvious it really was, our buzzer went off–time for our food!
We got up to the pickup window and were given a metal 'lunch tray' with all of our food on it (since we kinda got A LOT of food for just the two of us) so we didn't have to make several trips. Before we even got back to our table I started munching on those truffle fries as I walked behind Chris. I thought I was being sneaky, but he caught me, I probably looked like a deer in headlights, but I wasn't even sorry. So hot and crispy, I just wanted to inhale them! (which I pretty much did...) When we actually got back to our table, we dived right in, everything was soooo good. The box burger was so juicy and the tomato bacon jam, oh my god it was amazing! The savory bacon (everything is better with bacon) was somehow made even better from the added sweetness, and with the acidity from tomatoes, I think I found the holy grail. We loved it so much Chris is going to try and make some of his own! The hot dog was just as juicy too, and the cheddar ale sauce? Yes, it's just as good as it sounds, creamy beery cheesy goodness. We got sauerkraut, carmalized onions, and that heavenly sauce on our dog, but there are tons of other toppings they have to choose from, like raw onions, relish, shredded cheese, their own shack chili, or Hosta Hill crimson kraut. And while they don't serve alcohol, they do have 'shack' squeezed lemonade, with different fruits added in, depending on the season. Currently, it was
blueberry lemonade with just the right amount of sweet and tart that leaves you wanting more (we actually did go back up for another). Remember that Asian salad I was looking at in line? I tastes even better than it reads. Easily one of the best salads I've ever had. I mean, I actually wanted more salad?? Weird. The Bistro Box also likes to change up the specials a lot, so if you're visiting one month, then go back the next month, or even next week! More often than not they will have new and delicious items for you to try!
While we were enjoying this roadside gem, I couldn't help but notice that their music selection was spot on, they had the perfect playlist for all ages. Across from us, we were watching a grandfather and grandchild bopping along to the song 'Coconut' by Harry Nilsson. It made me chuckle because that song reminds me of the time my dad sang and danced to it while he tried to keep himself awake during a family vacation as we drove through the American West. With a stupid smile on my face, I looked around at everyone enjoying themselves playing corn hole, frisbee, or just a game of cards (us). I couldn't help the feeling that I was missing something, and then it hit me; I need ice cream. Thankfully, The Bistro Box also serves ice cream in many forms from the classic cone to a root beer float. Their Ice cream comes from Maple Valley Creamery, locally made in Hadley, MA and has a rotating selection of flavors. We got Coffee Oreo, coffee ice cream with bits of Oreos mixed in, in a waffle cone (although I prefer sugar cones, but Chris likes them so...) Now with ice cream in hand, (and in Chris' beard), we could properly kick back, relax, and I could finish whooping Chris' butt in cards.
Coming from Boston, living in the quiet Berkshires has been quite the adjustment for me. Sometimes I can be a little rough around the edges but Chris has told me time and time again that my attitude is beginning to soften out. From waiting in 2-hour traffic to barely ever seeing a stoplight here in the Shire. How can you be mad in such a beautiful place like the Berkshires? Every time I look at the mountain in my backyard the stress just melts away. My point is, The Bistro Box took those little pleasures of living in the mountains and shares it with everyone. When I'm eating my bacon jammed topped juicy burger and sipping on my fruity fresh lemonade looking at that mountain, its pure bliss. The Bistro Box was definitely worth the wait, and I don't just mean the long line.
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