Off the Menu: Downtown Springfield dining continues to grow

A new vitality is energizing Springfield’s city center restaurant community as Springfield’s Downtown District Loan Fund, a low-interest lending effort designed to enhance the downtown dining experience, begins to produce results.

Started in February of 2017, the Fund has already been instrumental in the development of two new dining options – BarKaya and Naismith’s Pub & Pretzel, both of which now occupy space on Springfield’s Worthington Street “restaurant row.”

A third new downtown venture, a White Lion Brewing tap room, is in the planning stages, expecting to operate out of vacant space in Tower Square.

It’s not, however, just the development of new restaurants that’s burnishing downtown’s dining destination credentials. Existing operations are also doing their part to make a visit to downtown more worthwhile than ever.

This month MGM Springfield has introduced a new menu at The Chandler Steakhouse, one of the resort casino’s fine dining venues. Executive Chef Kyle Beausoleil has updated the operation’s kitchen repertoire by introducing subtle multicultural aspects.

In press materials promoting the new menu, Beausoleil is quoted as saying, “I thrive on using different flavor profiles and pairings with my cooking techniques.

With more than 20 years of New England culinary experience, I’m always looking to implement creative twists on classics with every dish. It’s been a fun process to collaborate with the chef team to curate this menu – it is full of new items that are sure to please the palate.”

Featured dishes on the new menu include watermelon burrata, a Spanish-style summer salad; the Chandler roll, an upscale variation on a classic sushi roll that features avocado, spicy salmon, king crab, and a cucumber wasabi aioli; and a lobster cake fashioned from lobster meat and green apple.

Wood-fired grill specialties at Chandler include a 14-ounce Berkshire pork chop served with rhubarb chutney and a signature Tomahawk Ribeye that’s carved tableside.

The Chandler Steakhouse, which is open for dinner nightly except Tuesdays, can be reached at (413) 273-5420.

On Fort Street a new tradition is beginning this weekend at one of the city’s oldest and best known restaurant operations, the Student Prince Cafe and Fort Restaurant. Brunch is coming to the Student Prince; starting August 18 a brunch buffet will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday.

Menu selections are to include a carving station, eggs Benedict, breakfast meats, home fries, waffles, and more.

The buffet will also include a selection of hot entrees and side dishes as well as a dessert table stocked with Student Prince favorites.

The restaurant’s full dinner menu will be available during brunch hours.

For more information or reservations contact the Student Prince at (413) 734-7475.

Farmers’ Dinners are returning to the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield on Thursday, Aug.

22.

The first of two such occasions this summer, the August dinner will feature a menu inspired by ingredients grown in the Inn’s extensive kitchen garden.

Locally-raised chicken will serve as the center piece of this five-course gastronomic adventure, which will also feature a cream soup flavored with leek and summer savory, a salad of arugula and roasted carrots and a “pasta & meatballs” dish of handmade cavatelli finished with pesto and garnished with a tomato-braised meatball wedge. Dessert, always produced in the Inn’s own bake shop, will showcase fresh peaches.

The evening begins at with drinks in the yard at 6 p.m.; dinner will be served at 7 p.m.

Tickets are £65 per person and include all taxes and gratuity. They can be ordered online at salemcrossinn.com or by calling (508) 867-2345.

Belchertown’s third Food Truck Friday of Summer 2019 will take place on Aug.

16 from 4 until 9 p.m.

Hosted on the grounds of Belchertown’s Chestnut Hill Community School and sponsored by the Belchertown Cultural Council, the event promises to have food truck representation such as the Holyoke Hummus Company, the Thai Chili Food Truck, Hot Oven Cookies, and Belchertown-based favorite Chubby’s.

Live music will be part of the evening, as will games and activities.

Admission is free; more details are available at the Belchertown Cultural Council’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/BelchertownCulturalCouncil.

On Thursday, Aug.

29, starting at 6:30 p.m., the MAX Restaurant Group will host an “Ode to Tomatoes” at Rosedale Farm & Vineyards in Simsbury, CT.

Chefs from two MAX Restaurants, Derek Anderson of Savoy Pizzeria and Stephen Lundgren of Max a Mia, will be joining forces to celebrate the peak season for tomatoes.

A late summer menu will do double duty as a tomato tasting, with hors d’oeuvres, a multi-course meal with wine or beer, a farm tour, and live music.

The price per person, which includes a donation to the Connecticut Farmland Trust, is £109 inclusive. Tickets may be ordered by going to Eventbrite.com.

MAX Catering and Events, which can provide more details about the evening, answers at (860) 566-8366.

The Biergarten at the Munich Haus German Restaurant in Chicopee will be the site of a Bavarian Grill Fest on Sunday, Aug.

18, noon until 4 p.m.

The Grill Fest will include a full buffet of schnitzels, a station dishing up house-made sausages hot off the grill, German-style side dishes, and more.

Admission is £19.95 plus tax and gratuity, with kids under 12 paying £9.95. Tax and gratuity are additional, and the event is “weather permitting.”

On Wednesday, Aug.

21, the Munich Haus will present its monthly Hops Club “session.” Featured beer for August is to be Allgauer Buble Festbier, a richly-flavored specialty brew.

As is customary at Munich Hops Club events, a buffet dinner of German favorites will be accompanied by a stein of the featured beer, and a carving station featuring a whole roasted pig will serve as a centerpiece for the spread.

Live music, prizes, and giveaways are also part of the experience, which is priced at £15.95, not including tax or tip.

Places at either event can be reserved by calling (413) 594-8788 or by purchasing tickets on line at MunichHaus.com.

On Sunday, Aug.

18 chef and food writer Dan Barber will participate in “Flavor: A Brunch and Conversation.” Sponsored by Berkshire Grown, the event will take place at a private farm setting in Sheffield from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Barber will engage in conversation with Fred Rutberg, the publisher of the Berkshire Eagle. Their dialogue will focus on the importance of building community and how eating local food plays a vital role in that process.

Tickets for “Flavor: A Brunch and Conversation” are £150, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Berkshire Grown. Seats can be reserved on line at berkshiregrown.org.

Berkshire Grown answers at (413) 528-0041

Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s hospitality and culinary arts program and has over 40 years of restaurant and educational experience.

Please send items of interest to Off the Menu at the Republican, P.O.

Box 1329, Springfield, MA 01101; Robert can also be reached at OffTheMenuGuy@aol.com.

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