Last night I had dinner with a large group of strangers. It was called Dishcrawl, and the night’s itinerary took us to four eateries in the resurgent town of Easthampton. Many in the group of 27 lived in Easthampton but never been to these establishments! It all started on Facebook, where many of the participants heard about it–the twist was that no one knew which restaurants we would be visiting!
My email told me to show up between 6:30 and 7 at Christine’s Bean Sprout, at 42 Cottage St. This is a six-month old vegetarian cafe, owned by an Easthampton couple named Glenn Lebay and Christine Plant. The menu was full blown veggie–from Seitan and squash fitters, to beet soup, a panini of pepper jack, tomato and spinach, and cucumber avocado soup. It is the kind of food that makes you feel good and leaves no guilt, no matter how much you eat. “We’re the Cheers of Easthampton,” co-owner Glenn Lebay said.
Cheryl Stevens and Debbie Bombard are regulars at Christine’s and they talked about how much they love living near downtown Easthampton. “We love being able to walk into town, this is such a friendly place,” they both said. For others on their first Dishcrawl, it was a chance to get to know the restaurants in the town where they live. Jordan DeFrank, 26, an editor at Family Fun magazine, had never been to Christines, nor to Nini’s or Whiskers, two other stops of the night.
Jacqueline Stevenson and Jon Lunt drove out from Lenox to do the Dishcrawl. The group of 27 enjoyed the quinoa salad and other natural treats at Christines and then the big group moved across the street for a decidedly different food experience at Whiskers. Here drinks were ordered and we bellied up to a table full of hamburgers and fries. A few patrons sat at the bar wondering who all of these newcomers were, but like the other venues, everyone was friendly.
The next stop was Nini’s Ristorante, at the top of Cottage Street, an old standby where most of the group had never been either. A plate of satisfying pasta Bolognese was placed before us, and some of us ordered wine. I hadn’t been to Nini’s in a decade, and like the others who lived here, this was a great way to experience a restaurant that I might not think to visit. Another couple said they were also from Easthampton, but hadn’t ever been to any of these three places.
We concluded our foodie tour of Easthampton at Mt Tom Ice Cream, where the friendly scoopers provided a fitting touch to a great evening.
People are Dishcrawling in 46 states, and more cities are joining the mix every day. This event was hosted by Dishcrawl Ambassador Jenn Iannaconi, who has had these events twice in Northampton, taking place once a month. Many new towns will be targeted for future crawls, she assured me.