ADAMS -- With more than 100 years of history behind the building it inhabits, the Haflinger Haus in Adams has much to offer in an often-overlooked town in Northern Berkshire. Owned and managed by the Som mer family, the inn and restaurant, located on Route 8 across from C.T. Plunkett Elementary School, is a recent attraction for the hungry local who is willing to try some authentic (sometimes secret) Austrian-American recipes.
Opening in May 2012, the Haflinger Haus has gained footing with the warmth it brings to its customers.
Always greeted by a pleasant host or hostess, guests may choose to eat in the tavern or in the dining room. Personally, I opt for the tavern because the restaurant's lighter fare tavern menu offers dishes at a lower rate than its dinner menu, and you get to sit near the gorgeous bar that is tended by any number of inviting expert bartenders. But if in the mood for a quieter dinner, ask to sit in the dining area.
If there for dinner, a waitress dressed in what I would call traditional dirndl dress welcomes you with water and a specials menu. Then the hard part comes. Trying to decide between items is like trying to decide which of your children is your favorite.
Most of the menu items are called by their Austrian names, like Fritattensuppe ($4.95/$5.95) -- house-made chicken broth soup garnished with sliced crepes, chicken, and chives -- and Sauerbraten mit Rotkraut und Knödel ($17.95) -- marinated braised beef with house red cabbage and dumpling.
While you wait for dinner, try pronouncing all the different entrée names. It'll pass the time and give you a good chuckle when whoever you're with can't get Schwenslenden Schnitten Champignon Sosse ($16.95) out right.
Though the names may sound intimidating, what arrives on your plate can be considered a warm welcome home, even if you lack any Austrian or German roots.
On my last visit, I ordered from the dinner menu and got the Käsespätzle, which is Emmentaler cheese and house-made spaetzle, tossed with caramelized onions and then baked ($12.95). It was like old-fashioned macaroni and cheese, but so much better than anyone's mother could ever make. Even though it doesn't sound like much, the meal, created by visiting chef Gerhard Schmid and his crew, is filling and will probably result in leftovers.
As for the tavern menu, I'd recommend the Flatbread, which is chicken schnitzel, bacon, roasted garlic cream and cheese ($9.95), and is great for two to share.
I'd also say the Obatzda -- a Bavarian cheese delicacy of honey-smoked Pit ham and oversized pretzel, also enough for two ($7.75) -- or the Ungarische Gulasch (Hungarian Goulash) -- slowly simmered pork and beef in a mild paprika broth, with Nockerln (Austrian dumpling) and a kaiser roll ($8.95).
Ready for drinks but don't know what you want? The Haflinger Haus has you covered. With a wide variety of wines, beers and cocktails, you'll have to ask the bartender for a bit of help on this decision, too.
Whenever I go to the Haflinger Haus, I end up seeing a bartender making a delicious-looking drink, asking what it is and ordering it.
If you're looking for something a bit sweet, try a Blood Orange ($7). If you're looking to try a hearty brew, the restaurant has a decent selection of German beers on tap, like Spaten ($4) and Hofbrau Original ($4).
Though you may end up spending a bit more than you were planning, the Haflinger Haus guarantees quality in both food and service. My meal, consisting of an entrée, a Blood Orange and splitting the cost of a $8.95 appetizer, totaled $24.43 without tip. So while I wouldn't recommend this for a weekly visit, it's a wonderful place to celebrate something special, like an anniversary or a promotion. Or just stop by for a great drink before heading off into the rest of the night.
But you don't want to leave, you say? Well, Haflinger Haus has you covered there, as it is also a well-kept inn. At $95 a night, the Haus has six large rooms with marble fireplaces in just about every one. The inn section of Haflinger Haus is up a wide-set staircase, so noise from below tends to cancel out.
Amenities include: wi-fi, cable television, refrigerator, parking, ironing board, continental breakfast (which I can only assume is wonderful), hair dryer and extra blankets and pillows.
If you're visiting the Berkshires for the first time, the Haflinger Haus' inn puts you close to many cultural establishments in the area, like Mass MoCA in North Adams and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.
While Adams may not be the first destination that comes to mind, the Haflinger Haus definitely has something special to offer for newcomers and the newfound regulars.
If you go ...
Haflinger Haus, 17 Commercial St., Adams (413) 743-2221, www.haflingerhaus.com.
Tavern hours: Closed Mondays, Sunday: 4-8 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday: 4-11 p.m.
Dining room hours: Closed Mondays, Sunday: 5-8 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday: 5-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday: 5-10 p.m.
Style: Tavern and inn
Dress: Casual, but upscale
Food: Austrian-American cuisine
Entertainment: Weekend performances by local bands. Check website for listings.
Our rating: 5 mugs. "Round's on me!"
To reach Laura Lofgren:
or (413) 496-6229.
On Twitter: @BE_LauraL_