Rustic fare is high art on top of Mount Greylock
ADAMS - Open-faced basil ravioli scattered with summer vegetables is served on colorful Fiestaware plates. Brook trout garnished with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and corn is next. To finish the meal, there are platters of blueberry-glazed roast peaches served with thick, pale yellow honey sabayon. This dinner is served in an unlikely setting. We’re sitting at long wooden dining tables in a lodge at the top of Mount Greylock.
Before the 30 guests assembled, we were outside, listening to a lecture about beekeeping, part of a series of talks on Berkshire nature and culture at Bascom Lodge. This spot, on the summit of the mountain, had been closed for 2 1/2 years while the state rebuilt and resurfaced the roads leading up to it. Before opening the lodge again in May, even the drainage system and security barriers on the roads were redone.
Bascom Lodge sits at 3,491 feet on Mount Greylock State Reservation in Lanesborough and Adams, offering some of the best views in the state. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the lodge is stone and wood, with a feel of summer camp. It has a history of housing hikers and other visitors in rustic rooms (including group rooms with bunk beds) and feeding them basic food. Today, brothers John and Peter Dudek and partner Brad Parsons, chosen by a state curatorship program, have a 30-year contract to own and manage the lodge.
Menus are classic and unpretentious, all from scratch. Bascom Lodge is a place where the English muffins - in fact, all the muffins, biscuits, flatbreads, and pastries - are baked on the premises. Even mayonnaise on the sandwiches is made in the kitchen here. As for the dinners, says John Dudek, who is the chef, “We’ll have changing, themed menus based on regional American cooking, using fresh, organic, locally produced seasonal foods.’’
The Dudeks are originally from Adams but have lived in New York for much of their adult lives, as has Parsons. In the 1980s and ’90s, John was a pastry chef at the Duane Park Cafe in Tribeca and at Huberts on Park Avenue. In 2002 he established his own company as a private chef. Peter is a sculptor who teaches art at Hunter College/City University of New York and is also head of the Storefront Artist Project in Pittsfield. Parsons is a textile designer in charge of lodge renovations and a naturalist who will landscape the grounds with both common and rare plants native to this altitude.
If you spend the night or drive up the mountain very early, breakfast is a particular treat (pastries and hot beverages are included in the room price, but visitors may call ahead, then drive or hike in). You can watch the sun come up over omelets, frittatas, eggs Benedict, or granola-yogurt parfaits. Early in the day, there’s often a mist or cloud cover; as the day warms, this evaporates, and a blue sky and a panorama come into view.
Visitors order lunches at a counter, then wait at tables or outdoors for the cooks to bring them plates or boxes to go. There is homemade soup - perhaps tomato, New England clam chowder, beet borscht, or carrot-ginger - along with a vegetarian lasagna; grilled sirloin burgers on toast; and sandwiches such as Jamaican jerk chicken, Carolina-style pulled pork, or red pepper hummus.
Dinners include shepherd’s pie, pork cutlets with grits, Moroccan chicken tagine with couscous, and curry. Three courses cost $18. As the weather cools, Dudek plans to offer beef Bourguignon, venison osso buco, and veal paillards.
In very cold weather, the lodge closes, and opens again twice - for Thanksgiving (weather permitting) and for the Thunderbolt Trail memorial ski run next Feb. 20.
The rest of the winter, Bascom Lodge is in hibernation.
Bascom Lodge, Mount Greylock State Reservation, Adams, 413-743-1591, www.bascomlodge .net.