Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night at the Apollo

The Apollo Grill , at 116 Pleasant St. in my adopted hometown of Easthampton, MA, may well be my favorite restaurant of all time. I'm never disappointed and often I'm raving after a visit. It's our standard spot for date night but it's also a good place to bring the kids when we don't have a sitter. Tonight was one of those nights...

The Apollo is known for it's interesting decor and also for it's magnificent collection of vintage salt and pepper shakers. Each table has a different set. We had the bass tonight.

The menu varies from season to season and there is an emphasis on using fresh, local ingredients. They bill themselves as "American fare with an outer-space theme decor" and they are located in a renovated mill building close to the center of town. It's a great spot for this particular restaurant - quirky with high ceilings and exposed pipes. It just works.

The waitstaff is always friendly, funny and accommodating. It's not easy to go out with small children. Our waitperson tonight has kids of her own so she knew to bring us bread and butter right away. Always a crowd-pleaser for our family. 

On its face, the kids' menu offers what you'd expect: grilled cheese, burgers, macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers and quesadillas, but here they are prepared with the same care as the "grown up" meals and they come with a generous helping of fruit as well as fries. Tonight we had  watermelon, apple and orange slices. Thank you for offering my kids something colorful, healthy and delicious.

We started off with one of my favorite appetizers, veggie spring rolls with a delightful sweet and spicy dipping sauce and a refreshing cucumber-mint salsa. The rolls are crunchy on the outside and packed with yummy cellophane noodles, cabbage, carrots mushrooms and probably other things I haven't yet identified (just means I have to order them again). The plates are even lovely, hand-crafted by a local artisan. Can you see the stars on the plate that echo the one decorating the dipping sauce? A nice touch.

Sometimes pictures don't do a meal justice... For example, you can barely see the pile of coleslaw hidden below this gigantic burger and surely you can't see how it is delicately dotted with caraway seeds to add just the right flavor. The fries are hand-cut and perfectly cooked. This is not a meal I typically order out, but sometimes you just gotta have a monster burger - medium rare, please. And it does help that the beef is raised locally and ground fresh. Just so you know, this is from the "Lighter Fare" section of the menu...

Paul had the lamb kebabs. This is his standard order at the Apollo, which wouldn't be so surprising if it weren't for the fact that the man wouldn't even eat lamb when we first met. I take credit for getting him to appreciate it. It's beautifully seasoned and is served with hummus and pita, along with a little Mediterranean salad.

I would have taken a picture of the empty ice cream bowl that finished off our meal - vanilla from Mt. Tom's Homemade Ice Cream, another of our frequent haunts (go and try the maple bacon) - but someone's finger got pinched and there was a lot of screaming and crying so we figured it was time to leave before they decided not to welcome us back... All in all, though it was a successful dining experience: the kids ate, the adults had a drink and a few minutes of peaceful conversation, we all laughed a lot and enjoyed ourselves like mad. It's all part of Casey's plan.

Next time you are in my town. Go and try the Apollo Grill. I promise you won't be disappointed!

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