Bob and Norma Flynn of Lenox enjoy clams at Matt Reilly's Restaurant in Lanesboro.

LANESBORO

There's still time to catch the soft days of summer.

Vacation time may be gone for most of us, but September is generally balmy -- balmy enough to eat on a deck overlooking the water, as my sister wistfully hoped for one afternoon.

I took her to the popular Matt Reilly's Restaurant & Pub on Pontoosuc Lake on Route 7 just over the Pittsfield - Lanesboro line. It specializes in fresh seafood and hearty pub fare such as hamburgers, deli sandwiches, sirloins, fried chicken and pastas.

All the fish except the basket of breaded shrimp are fresh. Matt Reilly's makes their own batter for all the other fish, as well as all soups and pasta sauces.

The vegetables, including the fried potatoes and onion rings, come in frozen.

But for summer experience, it's seafood on the breezy deck. It is comfortable out there even on hot sunny days. The tables are shaded by umbrellas. I felt like I was at a seafood shack in Provincetown or Essex.

On my first visit, the deck filled quickly. It was the afternoon of Pittsfield's Hidden Garden Tour which showcased three nearby houses. Service was efficient and timely. Customers chatted across tables and wandered around with conviviality. Waitresses joked with the patrons they knew.

My fried calamari dinner was really good -- fresh, tender and flavorful. It stayed crisp even after it cooled down.

My companion enjoyed her fish sandwich. My tossed salad was fresh, but uninteresting. The coleslaw was too wet and sweet for me.

There is always an extensive list of blackboard specials including lobsters and steamed clams at market price. I watched the overflowing platters pass more than once. They looked enticing for a larger appetite.

My sister and I shared a number of appetizers. The onion rings were crisp, not greasy. The scallops tasted fishy and were a bit rubbery. The calamari were good second time around.

Soft drinks such as sodas, juices, iced tea and lemonade come with one refill if you have a meal. I did not try any desserts. I had come for the lake air and the seafood, which pleased me.

There are two inside rooms, one including the bar.

The second is closed off from the bar, a reminder of smoking days. Both rooms have glass walls facing the lake.

Even in winter you can eat on the water at Matt Reilly's.



Restaurant Review

Matt Reilly's Restaurant & Pub, 750 South Main Street, Lanesboro. Phone: (413) 447-9780, fax (413) 447-3895.

Hours: Daily from 11am to 10 pm.

Style: Casual.

Prices: Appetizers $3.75 to $8.95; soups $1.99 to $3.95; salads 75 cents to $8.50; burgers and sandwiches $3.25 to $8.99; dinners including pasta, seafood and sirloins $6.50 to $15.95.

Wine and beer: Many kinds.

Handicapped accessible. Noise level: On the deck, sounds off the water range from quiet to passing boats and recreational devices.

Sept. 1, 2004