DINER DINNER IN THE BERKSHIRES
When traveling finding a good place to eat can take priority over all other current endeavors. The task though is not to just find a restaurant, oh no my friend, instead one is looking for that certain eatery that is able to rise above the mediocre, a place that presents a meal worth remembering and telling others about. Not necessarily fancy or expensive just memorable. While visiting the town of Stockbridge, MA located in the Berkshires I discovered one such a place.
In conversation with some newly made friends at a local drinking establishment I happened to mention the Hollywood Diner down in Georgia and how good the food is. I was immediately directed down the road a few miles to a place in Lee, MA called Joe’s Diner. So after finishing my drink and making all the proper goodbyes I headed to dinner.
After only a ten minute ride I came upon Joe’s Diner. A small store front diner I might not have even noticed were I not looking for it. Now Joe’s, as it turns out, is somewhat of an institution in Lee. The interior of the diner is even featured in Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Runaway”.
Originally opened in 1939 the cafe has been serving the people of Lee good food in a friendly atmosphere ever since. In 1955 the restaurant was purchased by Joe Sorrentino for $5,500. He thought he would work there for about ten years then probably move on. Joe didn’t stay for ten years. No instead he ran the diner for 45 years until he finally retired in 2000. After a failed attempt to sell the diner to a lady that had been too quickly overwhelmed by the responsibility of running a restaurant Joe’s Diner was in danger of closing for good. Then another Joe stepped in to save the day and the diner was sold to Joe and Pam Langlais. After the death of Joe Langlais in 2011 two sisters Heather Earle and Shelly Swindell took over the diner and continue to run it today.
The minute I walked in I knew this was the place I needed to be. A small out of the way place with less than ten tables and a small counter, I immediately felt like I was home. After being greeted very friendlily with a big smile from the waitress I sat at the counter and ordered the special. To start I was served a chopped dinner salad. For those unfamiliar with this type of salad it is an old school salad with everything you would expect in a dinner salad, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber etc. but everything is coarsely chopped and all mixed together with fresh made ranch dressing it tastes oh so good. I am in heaven.
Now I could have just as easily eaten at The Red Lion Inn Pub in Stockbridge where they serve tempting meals like you would find in an English Pub along with your choice of an adult beverage and feature some sort of live entertainment nightly. Or I could have walked over to my hotel’s snack bar and chowed down on one of their Turkey-Reuben sandwiches a different take on a classic sandwich and very tasty but I’m happy right here at Joe’s eating my Meatloaf with homemade mashed potatoes. For dessert maybe I’ll have some of that fresh made pie because for me, at this time and place, it just doesn’t get any better than this and "Eat At Joe's" now has a new meaning.