Paul and Elizabeth’s: A Hidden – and Healthy – Downtown Treasure
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 19:04
Living in one of the best college towns in America has its perks, not least that Northampton is a foodie’s paradise. The main streets and side streets are liberally dotted with cafés, restaurants and eateries of all sorts. Meat lovers and vegetarians, pescetarians and vegans, there’s something for everyone here, and the quantity and quality of dining opportunities is part of what makes life at Smith as fine as it is.
While the quality of Smith’s food should not be overlooked, a change in scenery and cutlery provides a delightful break from the dining halls. It’s important to treat yourself to a meal off campus occasionally.
Almost all Smithies have been to Thornes Marketplace downtown to purchase everything from clothes and shoes to books and beauty products. But certainly not as many of us have been to Paul and Elizabeth’s, a delicious, affordable and healthy restaurant located on the first floor of the shopping center. P & E’s feels fresh, looks local and it radiates family, all honest features that reflect the restaurant’s management and values. If you don’t believe me, just look at the restaurant’s honors in the annual “Valley Readers’ Poll,” recognition that suggests this restaurant is at the top of its game.
Setting is important, and P & E’s offers real ambiance. Patrons dine against a wall of glass overlooking Old South Street, reminding you of the pleasure of enjoying time away from school in the middle of town.
When I ate there, it was clear that other diners were enjoying the mellow vibe created by food and atmosphere. The restaurant always seems filled with a warm, positive buzz, created by people engaged in conversation and clearly pleased by the contents of their plates. As you pass by tables, your mouth may start to water. This is because the food at the heart of the experience is fabulous.
I first went to Paul and Elizabeth’s at the beginning of this year with a famished friend. We had returned to campus recently and were in need of something close to a home-cooked meal. We were served just that. On my first trip to P & E’s I discovered – and continue to order almost religiously – the veggie platter, a healthy, heavenly combination of rice, veggies and tofu, flattered with a perfectly balanced sesame-garlic-ginger sauce.
P & E’s menu has everything: big portions of delicious salads, grilled salmon, soups, tempuras, pan-fried noodles and fresh-baked bread. What’s more, the servings are the perfect size, enough to doggy bag lunch the next day.
Let’s not forget about dessert. My drug of choice is ginger, and the ginger ice cream at P & E’s is simply out of this world. I’ve also heard rave reviews of their chocolate cake. The sweetest ending to your meal will be the check, which won’t hurt your wallet like downtown meals sometimes do.
Whether it’s next Wednesday or next weekend, next year or tonight, when you and your friends are debating where to go for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch, I highly recommend Paul and Elizabeth’s. You won’t be disappointed unless you’re looking for steak, and you can get that just across the street.
When the stresses of school leave us teetering on the edge of sanity, it’s sweet to live so close to such simple luxuries.