Bowl of raman with eggs, mushrooms, pork belly and scallions

Chashu Pork Belly Raman

The Details: Opening a new restaurant during a pandemic seems like a risky move, but it in the case of Thistle and Mirth, the addition of a ramen-focused menu and new restaurant space allowed the iconic pub to reopen after being shuttered by state COVID-19 regulations for just over a year. The restaurant portion of Thistle and Mirth, which opened in the former print shop space adjacent to the pub in April, is a bright, white open space with plenty of seating and plants. The pub, with its black chalkboard-painted walls is the visual yin to the restaurant's yang.

My husband, Robert, and I dropped by this restaurant last Wednesday on a whim. We had tickets to the press opening of "Eleanor" and hadn't made dinner plans prior to arriving in Pittsfield. Only a handful of restaurants were open and most had an hour wait list. Luckily, Thistle and Mirth was open and could seat us right away.

The menu is sorted into "Noodles" and "Not Noodles." On the "noodle" side is filled with ramen dishes — chashu pork belly, kimchi, barbecue pork and spicy chilled noodles.  The "not noodles" included steamed buns (barbecue mushroom and pork belly), arugula and radish salad, pork banh mi and mushroom banh mi and watermelon "poke." There's also a hot dog confit — a frankfurter with sweet tomato relish, nori and scallions served on a New England-style bun (or banh mi-style on a baguette).

What we dined on: I ordered the chashu pork belly ramen ($13) and added a marinated egg ($1.50), while Rob ordered the barbecue pork ramen ($13). We also ordered drinks from the bar — the list includes beers on tap and in bottles/cans; wine, cider and "not beer," a selection of cocktails.

Our server soon appeared with large bowls filled to the brim. My dish included generous portions of pork belly, sesame mushrooms, fish cake, scallions and noodles. Rob's included barbecue pork with a five-spice barbecue sauce, braised collards, radishes and scallions. Both of our dishes were made with tonkotsu broth — a broth that takes 24 hours to finish on heat alone. The broth alone is worth the price of the dish — hearty and robust in flavor. The portion given is filling, but not heavy. We were able finish eating with plenty of time to walk to the Boyd-Quinson Stage. 

Final bite: Sometimes the best plan is to have no plan at all. I doubt we would have "discovered" Thistle and Mirth any time soon, had it not been for our poor planning. Sure, we had heard about it, but it wasn't on the top of our list of new places to try. Our visit was a "happy accident" that has put this restaurant on our list of "go-to" places to dine at in Pittsfield. 

Jennifer Huberdeau can be reached at or 413-496-6229. On Twitter: @BE_DigitalJen

Features Editor

Jennifer Huberdeau is The Eagle's features editor. Prior to The Eagle, she worked at The North Adams Transcript. She is a 2021 Rabkin Award Winner, 2020 New England First Amendment Institute Fellow and a 2010 BCBS Health Care Fellow.