EATING ON THE EDGE: Mountainside Café, a hidden gem in Falls Village

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By Thursday, Feb 9 Farm and Table  2 Comments
Anne Dwyer
A po’ boy to remember in Falls Village at the Mountainside Café, consisting of fried calamari and hot peppers, with a chipotle aioli on a baguette.

I began going to the Mountainside Café, in Falls Village, Connecticut, when they opened a few years ago. I enjoyed it then, and now I love it.

I remember walking into a dining room with wooden tables, stainless steel accents, and filled with sunshine gleaming off the subway tiles behind the counter. The full back wall of the room is made of windows, giving the space an open, airy feeling, and showing off the clean, simple lines of design.

The clean and simple lines of Mountainside Cafe.

The clean and simple lines of Mountainside Cafe.

Keeping up with food fashion and seasons, the menu has changed and evolved along the way.

At first, I fell in love with their Huevos Rancheros and French toast; and the hash and eggs were tasty, too. All dishes arrived hot, great looking, and of a generous portion. The use of fresh, local produce, meats and dairy, was evident right from the beginning. This was also when I got into the habit of always bringing a scone home. They are great. I am picky, and they are great to this day.

Back then I favored either a burger or the Cuban sandwich for lunch. I choose fries, rather than salad as a side dish – either traditional or sweet potato, both served with an aioli – and haven’t been disappointed. The Cuban, made with ham, roast pork and cheese, is no longer a regular on the menu, because now they offer different delicious sandwiches like the braised short rib patty melt or the Buffalo chicken wrap. The burgers remain – juicy and drippy – and they now have added a Cajun crab, and a veggie choice.

A bowl of the Mountainside's very excellent chili. Photo: Anne Dwyer

A bowl of the Mountainside’s very excellent chili. Photo: Anne Dwyer

Lately, I’ve noticed Mountainside has been posting great looking pictures of great looking food, so naturally I had to find out what was going on. So off to eat I go.

Ordering from the newest menu, I started with the chili. Different kinds of beans, even garbanzo, in a rich, meaty chili with fresh onion and sour cream on the side. Nice.

I followed that with a colorful  roasted beet salad on greens with a light dressing and crumbled local cheese. Lovely.

Chicken wings. Photo: Anne Dwyer

Chicken wings. Photo: Anne Dwyer

They offer three kinds of chicken wings. I chose the wings tossed in a maple, habanero, and bacon glaze and they were just too good. Such a large portion, I had to force myself to stop, so that I could continue on to try the Taco.

Every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday. Today, pork belly tacos. Two grilled flour tortillas with slices of pork belly, cover with a lively pineapple salsa that was sweet, spicy, colorful and crunchy. What’s not to love?

Crispy lemon ginger duck dumplings. Photo: Anne Dwyer

Crispy lemon ginger duck dumplings. Photo: Anne Dwyer

I can also recommend the Lemon Ginger Duck Dumplings with a ponzu dipping sauce. Juicy, not greasy, and an unique presentation.

Everything coming out of this kitchen looks and is great. The two last dishes eaten, really motivated me to tell you about Mountainside Café, and that you should be going there already.

A tuna burger, open faced, on a crispy rice pancake and bright pickled veggies on top was a culinary surprise. A dish you may expect to see in a more fancy, and pricey restaurant. Nothing wrong here.

This next dish I will remember for a long time to come: a calamari pó boy on baguette. Fried to a golden brown were calamari and hot peppers with a drizzle of Chipotle aioli falling out of an overstuffed baguette. Just a touch of fantastic.

This good, to really good place, is in part due to chef David Gilmore. He joined the Mountainside Café team a few months back and has been offering up amazing daily offerings. In addition to the printed menu there are lots of daily specials on the board. Usually a soup or two, a special salad, quiche of the day, a couple main courses, and desserts to finish your meal. As I write, I am missing a lobster with drawn butter taco. Boo-hoo.

Tuna patty on crispy rice with house made pickeled veggies. You are it.

Tuna patty on crispy rice with house made pickeled veggies. You are it. Photo: Anne Dwyer

If you like your sugar, there’s plenty of that. As you walk in, there is a pastry case to your left displaying a variety of baked treats. Do you remember me telling you I always leave with a scone? Yup, they’re there, and they are always good. This case shows off brownies, cookies, muffins, and more sweet delights.

They have ice cream sodas, Sundays and frappes. The chalkboard lists a wide ranging variety of coffees, teas, chai, and dizzying soda combinations as well.

The Café has an unassuming, welcoming feel. It’s this family that wants to extend an invitation to your family. More often than not, the dining room has tables full of bright young families and other groups of friends catching up, smiling and laughing. Maybe this feeling rubs off from the youthful, happy staff? In any event, you should get yourself and your bestie down to Falls Village and try the Mountainside Café. I’ve enjoyed every visit.

The Mountainside staff: from left, Will S., Zachary S., Dennis B., Brian H., and Rob A.

The Mountainside staff: from left, Will S., Zachary S., Dennis B., Brian H., and Rob A.

P.S.

Before this posted, I was lucky to squeeze in another Taco Tuesday, and it made me so very happy.

 The carné asada taco.

The carné asada taco.

The taco of the day was a carné asada taco with Pico de Gallo, and guacamole. Three large tacos made of a grilled flour tortilla, around a crispy corn tortilla, filled with carné asada made from filet mignon, a pico de gallo salsa, and fresh guacamole on the side. The meat was cooked to rare perfection, and the salsa – with fresh tomato and assorted peppers – was accentuated with a sassy aioli. I smeared the guacamole inside each taco to put them over the top. Such a wonderful combination of texture and flavors.

But I couldn’t stop there, I had to have another special of the day — venison chili. I’ve already mentioned a previous chili and this chili is in competition for first place. With ground venison, red beans, and a soft spiciness, it was stand out. My lunch companion and I both agreed it was very good, and would order it again if offered.

So, to repeat myself, go try the Mountainside Café on Route 7, in Falls Village. You should downright enjoy it.

_________

Mountainside Café is open seven days 7 to 3, and will expand to Friday and Saturday dinners around Memorial Day. A brunch is offered on Sundays.

Mountainside.com/Cafe

251 Route 7 South

Falls Village, Conn.

860-824-7876

Don’t wait any longer, go!


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2 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Ward C. Belcher says:

    Loved Annie Dwyer’s review of Mountainside. I live just down the road (Rt 112) and love this basic, everyday, good eatery. I think there is a background to Mountainside which may be worth revealing …….. I’m not sure, but I think that this restaurant is attached to Mountainside, the drug rehabilitation center. I believe that some recovering patients work here ……. I’m not sure of this but it does/would add to the panache of this great place ……….
    I also love the Berkshire “edge” and am glad when you dip down across the line and get into northern Litchfield. We really need your perceptions and style down here!

  2. Beth Gordon says:

    your link to Mountainside cafe takes you to Mountainside , an addiction treatment center in Canaan, CT. and I don’t believe they have a cafe there.

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