Spencertown, NY, diner has got breakfast nailed

Readers of this column will know that the Chartocks care deeply about places to go for breakfast. Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. The older you get, the more true the previous statement is because even looking at food means that you will gain weight. So don’t eat after 5 p.m.

In the hunt for great breakfast places, I have searched for the best of the best and I think I may just have found it. For years on our rides over to Chatham to see my honorary sister, Judy Grunberg, we have passed one of the most interesting edifices in the Berkshires.

It’s a very small diner that looks like it couldn’t hold more than a few people. It turns out that the diner is the dream of Spencertown, N.Y., resident Dan Rundell, a practicing mason who has a real thing for diners.

Hey, some people have a thing for cars and others for fish but in Dan’s case, it’s diners. So when he saw a decrepit diner somewhere in Connecticut, he hauled it to Spencertown, gutted it from top to bottom and as much as humanly possible, returned it to its original state.

It took 12 years but when all was said and done, Dan’s Diner was fabulous. It has a curved oak ceiling that is emboldened with hand-painted gold leaf. The floors are what Dan calls “subway tile.” It’s got frosted windows and much more. But most of all, the food is as good as you will find anywhere.

Roselle and I watched transfixed as Sean, the cook of the day, broke eggs in one hand. I ordered the three egg omelet, bacon, peppers and onions. It came with hash brown potatoes that are just beautiful to behold and, of course, to eat.

That omelet was the kind of thing you’ll remember when you are passing from the world. As I watched, the chef prepared egg sandwiches on the largest hard rolls I have ever seen. I watched as people sitting down the row from me had pancakes that begged to be eaten. Ditto the French toast.

Everything is priced incredibly reasonably. The French toast, for example is $2.95 for one slice, $3.95 for two slices and $4.95 for three slices. For $6.95 you can get the “Hot Mess — peppers, onions, ham, cheddar, and home fries scrambled into two eggs served with toast.” Or, how about the “French Toast Sandwich” consisting of “two eggs with choice cheese and meat between two slices of Texas style French toast”?

Breakfast is served all day but they also serve great lunches. What I truly loved about the place was the mixture of customers. There were hunters and, to the right of us, people in upscale togs were talking about the Emma Willard School. No matter who you are, you’ll fit in. I recommend without reservation that you go.

On yet another subject, the town of Great Barrington is about to engage in yet another brouhaha over the construction of a pretty big hotel and conference center on Bridge Street where the old Searles School now sits vacant.

Some folks are already pretty upset about the dimensions and proposed look of the thing. Since the Berkshires rely on a tourist economy, I have no problems with the hotel. In fact, anything that is good for Jane Iredale, who has done so much for our town, is good with me.

She’s been frustrated by potential buyers backing out of her sale of the Searles property. She has really tried to make it nice for everyone. For my final opinion, I want to see what the thing will look like.

Obviously, it couldn’t look worse than what the town and state have come up with in the Main Street reconstruction plan. The problem for the folks who want to construct the hotel is that the Main Street mess has everyone so riled up that mobilization against the hotel is a foregone conclusion. Stay tuned.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 10/24/15

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