Dining outdoors at the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.
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How to Enjoy Dining Outdoors and Feel Like You’re in New England at the Same Time

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Dining outdoors at local restaurants has increased greatly during the Pandemic given strict state requirements on the maximum number that can dine indoors and people’s reluctance to eat inside.

It’s actually a savior for the restaurant industry during the warmer weather — that is, adding to a businesses’ ambiance while meeting a customer’s cautionary preference. Plus, some towns and cities that have previously placed unfair restrictions on outdoor dining have temporarily loosened those rules to help restaurants that might be financially suffering during the COVID-19 era. Maybe those towns and cities should also consider making it easier for businesses to keep outdoor dining in a post-COVID-19 era.

Some outdoor dining experiences work, others don’t — the former perhaps by the sea, an open rural field or mountain views and the latter by a dumpster, sketchy alleyway or a busy road with no barrier between the restaurant and traffic.

In New England, the best places to dine outdoors not only offer outstanding food but a location that makes one feel like actually being in this special region of the United States.

Where First To Dine Outdoors?

My first choice, to date, for dining outdoors is the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass. Located in the central part of the state, the Salem Cross Inn offers an outdoor dining experience that features idyllic views of rolling fields and hills that, alone, are worth the price of admission.

Dining outdoors at the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.
Dining outdoors at the Salem Cross Inn.

Dining by the gazebo – a traditional New England staple at town commons — provides a nice local ambiance…

Gazebo, dining table at the Salem Cross Inn in West Bro0okfield, Mass.
Gazebo, dining table.

Enjoying a meal closer to the historic structure brings the customer into a Colonial New England experience.

Outdoor dining with a traditional New England vibe at the historic Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass.
Outdoor dining with a traditional New England vibe.

Looking farther down the 600-acre field lends rural site points that take one away from a fast-paced, divided world and into a peaceful sanctuary shielded from the year 2020 as we know it. Along the way, you also might see a community of cows peacefully co-existing!

Cows in the field at the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass.
Cows in the field.

Dining Outdoors is Nice But What About the Food?

Prior to the Pandemic, the Salem Cross Inn stood as our number one go-to restaurant in New England for special occasions. Yes, the historic, Colonial New England atmosphere has always played a main role in our returns but the food, ultimately, keeps us coming back. The flavorful prime rib roasting over open open-hearth fireplaces is our number one choice.

Prime rib from the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass.
Prime rib from the Salem Cross Inn. Photo source: Salem Cross Inn Facebook Fan Page.

Delicious baked goods in the form of bread and muffins come out of a restored 1699 Bannister Tavern beehive oven. Additionally, the Salem Cross Inn sources heirloom vegetables and herbs grown in its own gardens. They also offer local wines and beers.

Besides the prime rib, my personal favorite meals include…

Maple Jack Chicken with Monterey jack cheese, local maple syrup, bacon, roasted tomatoes — and accompanied with a vegetable and starch (pictured here: mashed potatoes and squash).

Maple Jack Chicken from the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass.
Maple Jack Chicken.

Cedar-planked salmon enhanced with fresh herb-lemon butter…

Salmon dinner from the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass.
Salmon dinner from the Salem Cross Inn.

Seafood Pasta with skillet-seared scallops, penne primavera and a light romano cream.

Seafood pasta from the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass.
Seafood pasta.

On our most recent visit, we found the short ribs to be incredibly delicious and generously served…

Short ribs from the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass.
Short Ribs. Yum!

and the Strawberry cheesecake shooter in a shot glass to be a perfectly sweet companion to the main meal…

Strawberry Cheesecake shooter from the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield Mass.
Strawberry Cheesecake shooter.

Conclusion

Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield, Massachusetts.
Salem Cross Inn.

Chances are that your favorite local restaurant offers outdoor dining. Keep on supporting those places! It is critical to the foundational strong fabric of small businesses in American.

We have cautiously and sparsely (due to personal budgeting) frequented local restaurants in this dangerous age of the Coronavirus. When dining out, we have made it count as a truly special experience. Consequently, the Salem Cross Inn first came to mind when celebrating our 23rd anniversary. The classic rural New England setting and marvelous food was simultaneously like being in a Currier and Ives painting and a Food and Wine Magazine article coming to life.

I hope you can also experience this outdoor dining experience!

You can read the full story on the Salem Cross Inn (including scenes from the indoor dining rooms) for free at http://visitingnewengland.com/salemcrossinn.html.

The Salem Cross Inn is located at 260 West Main St. in West Brookfield, MA. Tel. (508) 867-2345. Log onto the Salem Cross Inn web site for more information including current business hours.

What is your favorite place when dining outdoors in New England? Please comment in the box at the end of this post.

Additional reading
Enjoying fresh local seafood and amazing ocean views at the Coast Guard House in Narragansett, R.I.
Dining out at a special restaurant tucked away in the hills of Uxbridge, Mass.
Dine inside or outside at a converted car ferry in Portland, Maine

Please share the following graphic on Pinterest…

This outdoor dining spot in New England is like being a a Currier and Ives painting and a Food and Wine Magazine article coming to life.


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