On opening day, Botanica offers a respite from Black Friday chaos

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GREAT BARRINGTON — They open the door and stop, every single one of them. They hadn't even made it to the coffee or cookies yet, or to those little pastries stuffed with lamb.

All who entered Botanica on the morning it opened did this, spellbound by contrasts, good food and good feeling. Maybe it was the plants glowing like green jewels in sunlight that cuts in at angles. The high ceiling and surprisingly warm gray walls absorb some of the light and mute it. A mirror ball throws off magic in a corner.

It was a refuge from the spirit of Black Friday. A refuge on any day, really.

Then you get to the espresso machine, waiting there for you like a Maserati, yet unpretentious in what feels like an open country kitchen, but one switched up a bit with a Victorian-esque wallpaper.

Botanica is at 34 Railroad St., formerly home to Seeds, an upscale housewares and gift shop. But Adam Medina and Carla Blades, who are leasing the space, gutted it all the way to the back alley, where, in the spring, patio seating will open up for this new coffeehouse.

"It reminds me of a place in Seattle," said town resident Roselle Chartock, who stepped inside and stopped. She was just so taken with it, she said. "It's got the same feeling — the light and the lines."

Chartock said the best macaroons she ever has had were made by Blades, a locally renowned baker and food artisan. Chartock said she was now in luck — Blades told her she'd be making them soon.

So many locals from all over these hills came through the door, and liked what they saw.

"It's my new go-to place," said New Marlborough-based filmmaker Tim Newman, all cheerful after a meal with friends.

Blades and Medina are artists in many realms. Medina is most well-known for his interior and furniture design business, and his clients have included No. 6 Depot in West Stockbridge. Medina has always had food skills, though.

"I've always been into food," he said, furiously keeping pace with coffee orders. It was Black Friday after all, and he had been open since 7 a.m.

The menu is small and seasonal, and spans breakfast and lunch. Right now, there are baked eggs, steel-cut oats, two salads, two soups and a roasted chicken panini.

Medina said this enterprise of coffee, food and plants is a work in progress, one they expect to grow and blossom just like the flowers he and Blades plan to sell here.

"We're planning a cut-flower CSA in the growing season," he said. "And arranged potted plants."

As Medina turns back to the espresso machine, attention easily shifts to Blades' baked goodies in a glass case. Now she has a regular place from which to feed her followers.

And one can't help but chat with a smiling Amillie Coster, who is nearby behind the kitchen bar, rolling dough for small ground lamb pies that she says are going fast.

"They're selling like hotcakes — or like lamb cakes," she said.

Heather Bellow can be reached at 413-329-6871 hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or @BE_hbellow.


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