Two New Town Eateries Cater To Different Crowds
By by YOUNG MAY CHA, Contributing Writer

41 Boltwood Walk

Amherst, MA

(413) 253-0025

Food: varied lunch and dinner, including some vegan and vegetarian

Service: not so student-friendly

Price: date night (lunch entrees $5-$8; dinner entrees $9-$18)

Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars (out of five)


96 North Pleasant Street

Amherst, MA

(413) 253-1855

Food: Soup

Service: friendly

Price: hanging out ($2.50-$5.50)

Overall Rating: 4 stars (out of five)

Two restaurants are new on the scene in Amherst, and my friends and I checked them out to see if they are worthy of a visit on a date or even just for some late night treats. Atlantis is a more expensive option with good, inventive food but shoddy service. SOUPerBOWL is a casual option with quality soup for a reasonable price.

Atlantis Has Attitude

Don't let the sketchy exterior fool you-inside is a small, well-decorated room that has transformed this dark corner of Boltwood Walk into a 21st century underwater palace. With an aquarium and a textured ceiling to create a bubbly, oceanic ambience, Atlantis lives up to its name.

But be warned: Atlantis is very popular but seats fewer than 50 people. It's more like a crowded New York City bar than a small-town restaurant. Make a reservation for dinner, especially if you're in a large party. Otherwise you'll have to endure an hour wait or eat at the bar, which also fills up quickly.

When I went, the only available tables were reserved, so I was brusquely ousted from the restaurant. The maitre d' was not entirely rude; he took down my name so that upon my return an hour later, I could wait another 20 minutes to be seated and then forgotten by my waiter.

It was apparent that Atlantis paid attention to detail. The silverware had a shell-like design, and the black plates added to the futuristic, underwater atmosphere. Yet, the waiter oddly brought over only four pieces of bread for a party of five.

The menu, on the other hand, was impressive, boasting exotic dishes. Although there was not a large selection, the entrees offered some variety: seafood ($14.95-$17.95), vegan/vegetarian ($8.95-$11.95) and traditional American grill ($12.95-$17.95), with cultural nuances added from several cuisines.

The food itself was excellent. The dinner salad (complimentary with entree, regular salad $5.95) was nothing like Valentine's dull iceberg lettuce. The pan-roasted half chicken ($12.95) pleased both white and dark meat-lovers. "It was unbelievably good," remarked my dinner companion. "I loved the chunky, homestyle mashed potatoes."

My roasted duck ($17.95), the special of the day, needed a little extra seasoning and was served over something that resembled thick jambalaya. An interesting and delicious mix, my dinner was an aesthetic and culinary delight.

It was clear why Atlantis was so crowded. It was also clear that Atlantis is better suited for smaller parties. There are four places at a table, but it's a tight squeeze, making it a less than ideal place for students who like to eat in large groups.

With strategically-placed lights to illuminate cozy two-person tables, Atlantis would be better for a romantic dinner. Plus, you could take advantage of the many uninterrupted delays while waiting to be served to hit it off with that special someone. That is, if you could hear each other over all the background noise.

Score For SOUPerBOWL

Aside from its small size and slightly obtrusive fans, one could mistake SOUPerBOWL for a quaint diner. I was impressed by the blue carpeting and white straw mat chairs, which created a bright and pleasant atmosphere. The open kitchen was also striking; I always feel more comfortable at an establishment that is not afraid to let its patrons watch the food preparation.

There are sample menus for your perusal, but they provide only a glimpse at the wide variety of soups available. SOUPerBOWL varies its soup selections frequently to please every palate.

These are not your typical, everyday soups either. Traditional favorites like chicken with rice and garden vegetable abound, as well as egg drop, hot and sour soup and smoked salmon chowder. Different soups, chowders and chilis are offered everyday, and the only staple is New England clam chowder ($2.95 cup, $4.25 bowl, $5.25 breadbowl) every Friday. If you're a really picky eater, call ahead to get the day's specials.

The soups are served cafeteria style with plastic utensils, and customers are asked to bus their own trays.

I decided to be adventurous and try the turkey chili in a breadbowl ($5.50). Surprised that my chili didn't ooze through the bread, I found my breadbowl lunch to be very good and fun to eat.

I highly recommend this option; it turns a cup of soup into an entire meal. The bread was soft and spongy, and soaked in the soup's flavor, with a light crust to contain the liquid. You will definitely want to finish this meal-soup, bowl and all. Just be sure to get a few extra napkins if you are ordering a watery soup unless you have mastered a technique to eat the bowl without spilling your lunch all over the tray.

SOUPerBOWL offers these great soups to go cold, for you to microwave later. You can even get a breadbowl to go on the side. Delivery is also available through delivery express.

With a selection of flavored coffees ($1.25) and desserts ($2.25-$3.50), in addition to the chowders and chilis, SOUPerBOWL could be a nice alternative to greasy wings on a cold winter night.

Issue 03, Submitted 2000-09-19 20:05:05
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