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Max Hartshorne, travel website editor, sharing some of the stuff I read, hear and see with you. Updated every day. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Venus & the Cellar Bar: Making Easthampton Even Cooler

by Max Hartshorne on June 20, 2009

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I was excited when I asked Shoul where he was going tonight, Friday, my usual going out night. He said he was going to the ‘soft opening’ of a new wine bar and upscale restaurant in Easthampton, called Venus & the Cellar Bar. I hopped into the truck and made it there around 7. Read my review of the food from July 11 here

If I were opening a new restaurant or bar, I’d follow Michael Vito’s lead and do it in Easthampton. Rents are lower, permits are a breeze, and there’s a nice buzz about the city. It feels like Easthampton is raring to take over Northampton as the coolest place to be in the Valley.

I descended the steps to the lower wine bar, a cellar that Michael said they had to dig 18″down in dirt, and there were my two friends, smiling, waiting to say hello. Michael I remember from my days at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, I was an ad salesman back then in the ’80s, and Vito covered City Hall. He went on to spend eight years with Senator John Kerry, and now he lobbies for energy companies and has his hand in this new venture.

Vito loves to harken back to his days as a reporter, and his time as a staffer to a big Washington Senator. He still has his hands all over politics, judged by how many times he said what he was about to tell me was off the record. But for the record, this new place Venus, is very cool and I predict they will be tremendously successful…in fact they might even herald in a new era of Easthampton coolness. He gave me his card, and I will use it in the future to grab a table and sample the menu, which was heavy on French dishes, and skewed to the higher end.

I can’t wait to try the Salade Nicoise, and the halibut, which he recommended, and I’m sure with Casey Douglas of Apollo Grill in the kitchen, it will be delicious. Good luck Mike and partners!

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