Munchies With Max: Wait for Whately
By Max Gilbert ’13, Staff Writer
The next best thing to having your own parents come to visit for Parents’ Weekend is having your close friends’ parents come. All over Amherst restaurants can be seen with large tables of students and their families enjoying each other’s company and, for the friends, a nice (presumably free) meal out.

One of my friends’ mom and sister made the mistake of waiting too long to book both a room to stay in and a reservation for dinner. Killing two birds with one stone, they reserved a room at the Whately Inn, about 25 minutes west of Amherst. The Whately Inn boasts a restaurant on its first floor that has received critical acclaim and is a local favorite.

Walking into the little inn was like stepping into a Victorian stagecoach stop. Both the décor and the menu were incredibly dated, verging on tacky. However, as I learned through the meal, the Whately Inn grows on you.

We had to wait nearly 45 minutes at the bar until our table was ready. Our waitress then abruptly left us in the middle of taking our order. In the overly crowded and dimly lit dining room, my patience with the Whately Inn was growing thin, and I was imagining writing my first scathing review.

The menu was fairly simple: there was a variety of red meat and fish stuffed with shrimp or lobster meat. Each entrée was served with an appetizer, a salad and a dessert. Picking fiendishly at the pickled vegetables and garlic rolls served first after having been kept waiting for so long, none of us had any idea how much food we were about to ingest.

I started my meal with the daily soup special of New England clam chowder, which was slightly above average — creamy and thick but not overly flavorful. The salads were heavy on the dressing, and garnished with a few flavorless frozen cocktail shrimp that, if anything, detracted from the included course.

The tone of the meal quickly picked up when an order of stuffed mushroom caps covered in melted cheese and a lobster bisque sauce was ordered for sharing amongst the table. As aptly stated by my friend, “How could anything covered in cheese and lobster bisque possibly be bad?”

Finally, the meat course came out. Each plate looked like it had enough animal flesh on it for an entire family. Shocked and speechless, we watched as two behemoth portions of prime rib were laid down across from a gigantic steak and two enormous lamb chops. My lamb chops were cooked perfectly medium rare, with just the right amount of fat, and absolutely exploding with flavor. The steak was also cooked excellently, as were the prime ribs. Baked potatoes, potatoes au gratin and broccoli came with the meat, as if there wasn’t enough food already. Exceedingly full, none of us managed to finish our portion.

After requesting most of the meat to go, we were read our list of options for dessert by our server. We decided to split everything, and ordered strawberry shortcake, peach shortcake, pecan pie and an ice cream sandwich with a caramel sauce. The shortcakes were very light biscuits with a fruit topping and fresh whipped cream. The strawberry was much better than the peach, which was lacking in sweetness. The pecan pie was very good, but the star of the show was the ice cream sandwich. Vanilla ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies, topped in whipped cream and doused with caramel, this decadent dessert disappeared quite quickly.

Maintaining the steady increase of quality with the duration of the meal, we were all delighted by the high quality of our after-dinner espresso served with an elegant twist of lemon. Finally, in a dazzling display of chivalry, the women were each brought a beautiful rose at the end of the meal. We then concluded our long dinner by enjoying the beautiful fall evening sitting on a rocking bench outside, enjoying the cozy little inn.

My only regret after my meal at the Whately Inn was that I had induced a food-coma on myself the Saturday of Halloween weekend. This regret was ameliorated when my leftovers provided dinner for myself the next night as well. Although a decent drive off the beaten path is required to get to the Whately Inn, it is certainly worth a trip. The location and the pricing might be prohibitive for students on their own, but I would very much recommend asking parents to eat there when they make college visits. My suggestion for those who venture to Whately would be to not fill up too early in the meal, because it only gets better as it goes on.

Issue 08, Submitted 2010-11-03 19:16:34