Each summer, I spend time in the hill towns of Massachusetts. Several years ago, my hostess – this still is a gender specific word, isn’t it? – introduced me to the Gill Tavern. Located in the quiet town center of Gill – a chuch or two, Town Hall and of course, the library – the tavern was once a country store, gas station and garage, now reborn to another life. Operated by the same folks running the venerable and esteemed People’s Pint in Greenfield, the tavern is extremely casual, friendly and a source for simple, straight-forward food well-prepared. The menu devotes an entire page to the local sources of its foodstuffs. We urbanites may have become inured to this locally sourced hyping, but out in the country one’s vendors are likely to be one’s neighbors. Since my initial visit, I’ve come back several times. On my last visit, I opted for the burger – and what a good decision that was.
The menu description –
Grilled local grass-fed beef burger, roasted potato wedges, lettuce, onion, pickle
add New Hampshire North Country bacon 2.50
add Cabot sharp cheddar, Chase Hill Farm dutch gold or blue cheese 1
I chose to enhance my burger with the bacon and the Chase Hill Farm Dutch Gold cheese.
And this is how it went down –
- The meat – This was a moist, flavorful, well-seasoned burger with tang; having been grilled only added to the flavor dimension.
Temperature – I ordered the burger rare and so it came.
The roasted potato wedges were quite tasty and a welcome change from the often ubiquitous french fries.
The cheese – From nearby Warwick MA and the Chase Hill Farm, the raw milk Edam-style Dutch Gold – tangy and complex – lent just the right “lactose” accent to the burger.
The bacon! The bacon! The bacon! – Yes, the bacon comes from the renowned North Country Smokehouse in Claremont NH, just up the road apiece from Gill. The applewood smoked bacon truly put this burger over the top.
- The bun – This burger deserves a better platform than the bun it was served on. I found the bun lacking in heft – though it did stand upt to the juiciness of the burger. There was no “chew” to the roll and, frankly, was a disappointment and distraction.
I accompanied my burger with one of the three People’s Pints brews on tap – Farmer Brown’s Ale, a traditional malty brown ale with low carbonation and bitterness.
When the Pioneer Valley is mentioned as a leisure destination, Northhampton is usually highlighted. However, the upper valley – Greenfield and its hill towns – have much to offer and are worth exploring – restaurants, brewers, artists/artisans and great local products.