The Stables in Hadley is well-known amongst college students and locals for a great down home breakfast at a good price. The little red house set back from the road across from the Whole Foods plaza in Hadley isn't much to look at, especially with the parking lot that has potholes the size of Toyota Corolla. But what the outside lacks in glitz, the employees and the food inside more than make up for.
First off, it's important to note that you need to plan your visit to The Stables with care. If you're going on a Saturday or Sunday and the colleges nearby (UMass Amherst, Amherst College & Hampshire College) are still in session, you'd better plan to be there by 8:30 or so, or be willing to wait in line. When you first walk inside, there's a long counter with probably 15 or so seats and then a small dining room to the left. The lines after 9am on the weekends often stretch the full length of the counter (with the counter seats all taken) and sometimes even out the door. The other thing to note is that The Stables is one of the few "cash only" holdouts in our ever increasingly plastic-friendly economy.
So now that you've visited the ATM and arrived before 8:30, you're ready to sit down and enjoy a bottomless cup of New England Coffee (always yummy!). The menu choices are extensive - from your basic eggs & toast to French toast and pancakes to interesting "scramble" concoctions with home fries, breakfast meats and cheese. Mr. valleywriter and I both like the "Farmer Brown," which comes with 2 eggs any style, 2 pieces of bacon, 2 sausage and 2 dinner-plate sized pancakes. It's a HUGE breakfast for about $6 - can't beat that!
My favorite part of any breakfast at The Stables is the buttermilk pancakes. These pancakes are the best I've ever had. They're just a little crispy on the outside edges and soft and wonderful on the inside. I could eat them plain - no butter or syrup - but I usually do add the syrup because it's such a nice treat. The plain buttermilk pancakes are great, but you can also get them with blueberries, apples, chocolate chips and more. When I'm in the mood for dessert for breakfast, the chocolate chip pancakes are my go-to order.
But it's not just the food here that's "down home." The waitresses have all been around for years and it really feels like a family. They're sweet, caring and very friendly. While I know the restaurant business has its challenges and you don't always want to be there, these ladies make it seem like they're happy to be there. I truly believe that positive attitudes are pervasive, so breakfast at The Stables always leaves me in a good mood (and with a very full belly!).