Friday, October 24, 2008

Ralphine's Cafe & Deli

Mr. valleywriter and I spent a nice afternoon walking the Manhan Rail Trail in Easthampton, enjoying the fresh air and brilliant fall foliage.
And after a good 3 mile walk, we'd worked up an appetite and a desire to warm up. So where the trail crosses Union Street, we headed uptown in search of lunch. Ralphine's caught our eye at the top of the hill where Union Street meets Rt. 10.
The promise of a fresh warm panini on a cool fall day called to us... and we weren't disappointed. Ralphine's is a curious meld of a small town deli and urban flavor. This shows in the food and the decor. The counters, tables and chairs look like they've been there since the 70s, but artwork on the walls shows a modern flair. And the menu has old favorites like ham & cheese and a Thanksgiving-inspired turkey & cranberry, but also includes some more innovative options.

My pick was a turkey panini with bacon, avocado, tomato, lettuce and horseradish mayo. The ciabatta it came on was the perfect mix of crunchy and chewy and all of the ingredients were fresh and flavorful. Having eaten most of my paninis lately at Panera, I was impressed with the difference fresh and not-overly salted ingredients made.

Mr. valleywriter and I took our time over lunch, sharing friendly banter with the folks at the counter and catching up on the paper.

Just like the Silver Spoon, Ralphine's is one of those places that makes me feel like a local. Easthampton may very well be starting to become home.... one restaurant at a time :-)

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