Berkshire Palate: A casual vibe with modern flavors

Father, sons open new restaurant in Williamstown's Colonial Plaza

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WILLIAMSTOWN — At Berkshire Palate, the restaurant business is truly a family affair.

While the Brassard family members who own the restaurant have recently hired additional staff for the summer season, it might be Paul Brassard or one of his sons (all owners) taking your order at the establishment, which opened last November. Each member of the family has a role in running the restaurant. Zach Brassard is the executive chef, while Paul focuses on management and marketing. His other son Nolen, a software developer, takes care of some of the behind-the-scenes duties, such as bookkeeping and IT, and son Aaron splits his time working at the restaurant and traveling as a camera operator, working on locations that include The X Games and the Daytona 500. "We are a pretty creative family," said Paul Brassard, who is also a professional photographer. "We want that to show in the restaurant."

Located in the Colonial Plaza in Williamstown, Berkshire Palate serves modern American cuisine inspired by world flavors. Paul Brassard has been pleased with how things are going. "We're ahead of where I expected. ... We've had a lot of return customers already," he said.

After looking at over a dozen spaces throughout Berkshire County, the Brassard family settled on the Williamstown space, which has a fast-casual vibe, with the left wall chalkboard featuring specials and the right-hand side of the area showcasing an open kitchen with seating in the middle of the room.

The menu at Berkshire Palate features a mix of casual to fine dining versions of modern American dishes, with chef Zach Brassard taking inspiration from what's in season. Their slider menu has just under a dozen options that range widely in flavor from the standard burger patty and a buffalo chicken slider — with house buffalo sauce, shaved celery and onion slaw — to more adventurous choices, such as the PB and jelly pork belly slider with savory peanut butter, local jam and pickled onion. Sliders are between $4 and $5 each, with a flight of two with fries for $10 and a flight of three for $14.

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Popular dinner items include the sweet potato bowl with pear, cranberry, cilantro, maple and pecan for $9; pork belly kalbi for $15 and seared scallops with sweet potato puree, beurre blanc and pea shoots for $29. Gluten-free dining options are available, as well as options for those who are vegetarian or vegan.

Before Berkshire Palate, Zach Brassard was a longtime fixture at District Kitchen & Bar in Pittsfield and did stints at Gala Restaurant & Bar at The Orchards Inn in Williamstown, and Zucchini's Restaurant & Catering in Pittsfield.

"I'm really looking forward to our first summer here, and we can take advantage of using all the local produce," said Zach Brassard, who is laser-focused on working with local ingredients and local purveyors to produce a menu that is as local as possible.

An area of the business that the Brassards have seen take off is catering and events. After attending the Berkshire Wedding Expo earlier this year, they are now booking functions of all sizes, from meetings to weddings, and anticipate this area of the business growing.

As owners, the Brassards had to lay down some ground rules for working together as a family.

"People advised us not to open the business as a family, but I told them that family businesses are a cornerstone of America," Paul Brassard said. "In the beginning, we had set some parameters for working together and know that we all have to blow off a little steam now and then. It's about being self-aware."


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