Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sierra Grille - Little Bites, Big Fun!

It's been a busy week in the ValleyWriter household. We've had house guests, Halloween parties and a night out on the town with friends. Even the ValleyKitties have been busy - learning how to use their new cat door, adjusting to having a puppy in the house (one of the house guests) and then, for the littlest one, topping it off with a vet visit this morning. (It was just routine shots, but you'd think we were torturing her based on the sounds she made on the ride over!)

Now the weekend has arrived and while Mr. ValleyWriter sleeps off the effects of last night's Halloween party, I finally have time to update you on some of my adventures. Our house guests were very special foodie guests, so stay tuned for a special post coming soon. I'll leave you in suspense 'til then. My only clue is this picture of an official member of their foodie family:

Anybody recognize him? He's such a cutie!

Anyway - cute puppies and traumatized kitties aside, it was an awesome week. One of several highlights for me was getting to try out Sierra Grille in Northampton. It's been around for several years, but we've just never made it in for some reason. This week, we went with a group of 10 friends - some old, some brand new - and had a really great time.

Part of the reason for that great time was Sierra Grille's group-friendly menu. While they do offer several entrees (where you get to pair your own combinations of protein, sauce and sides) and paninis, the bulk of their menu is made up of appetizers and "small bites" (think tapas). In addition to their regular menu, they also had a bunch of specials to try. What made it so great for the group is that we just ordered a bunch of things and then passed plates around the table sharing.

As for the appetizers, my favorite had to be the smoked habanero chicken wings. We often order chicken wings when we go out, and far too often, they're coated in some strange, orange, chemically sauce. That's not at all the case here. These wings were basted with just the right amount of delightfully spicy sauce - just enough to make your tongue tingle, but not set your whole mouth on fire for the night.

After our little bites, Mr. ValleyWriter and I each ordered a panini as well. I had the duck confit and he had the chicken breast. Sadly, I was a little disappointed with my panini. I didn't think it was possible for duck to be dry - especially duck confit - but this was a bit on the dry side for me. I think it was compounded by the fact that there seemed to be no dressing on the sandwich, even though the description said there was a balsamic reduction. In fact, several people noted that other proteins (pork, beef) also seemed a bit dry and/or lacking in sauce....

However, Mr. ValleyWriter's chicken breast panini was surprisingly delicious! Sometimes I think of chicken as being pretty boring, but they really pumped this up! It had crispy, juicy slices of Granny Smith apple, creamy Gruyere cheese and a yummy slightly-sweet/slightly-spicy mustard. It was absolutely delicious!

The other nice thing about going in a big group and sharing food is that you actually have enough room to make it to dessert. All of their desserts are individual sized - just a few bites to satisfy your sweet tooth. I had the Espresso Mocha pot de creme. Oh. My. Goodness. It was rich and chocolatey, without being coyingly sweet. Mr. ValleyWriter had the creme brulee, which was nice a smooth, but a little too orangey for me (that may be because I'm used to vanilla bean creme brulee).

All in all, it was a great night filled with great food and great conversation. Our server was attentive and did an impressive job keeping up with such a big group. And for all of that food described above, plus a couple of drinks, it was only about $60/couple (which included tip, since Sierra Grille adds it on automatically for groups). That's pretty impressive by Northampton standards.

We will definitely be putting Sierra Grille into the rotation of "date night" restaurants. For now though, I think the whole family is looking forward to a weekend of rest and relaxation. Awesome week -now time to rest up for the next one!


Jenn said...

Aww I want a dog. But sadly I can't. Blame it on the landlord. Grrr...

Happy Halloween!!

Kathryn said...

Yum...that dinner sounds fabulous! I love the idea of anything where you can share your meal and get to try other dishes....I tend to shy away from ordering a whole meal of something I've never tried.

It's all making me hungry!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I can't believe I missed this!!! What an awesome write up! We had a great time with you guys during our visit!