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Great Falls Harvest

Turners restaurant offers global styles for local ingredients

TURNERS FALLS — The Great Falls Harvest restaurant has cleared its first major hurdle; state clearance of a beer and wine license, and the owners hope to see their first business take off as local beer from Element and Berkshire Brewing Co. joins the Third Street restaurant’s hybrid local-global menu.

The restaurant is the first independent culinary venture of local couple Christopher Menegoni and Bridgette Chaffee. The two have worked together in the restaurant industry for years, commuting for the past six to Barre, where Menegoni worked in the kitchen of Picasso Restaurant and Bar and Chaffee waited tables.

Chaffee describes their arrival in Montague as a fortuitous accident; they bought a house on K Street with plans to flip it, months before the housing market crashed.

“So we kind of got stuck here, because we would have lost our shirts, but now we’re like ‘thank God we got stuck here,’ because we just love the area,” Chaffee said.

Now they have a much shorter commute to work in the space formerly home to Burrito Rojo, at 50 Third St.

The establishment is open for business Thursday through Sunday with a menu that has changed often as Menegoni experimented, but he expects the current iteration to see them through the winter.

Where possible, the menu features local ingredients, all combined in dishes fusing various culinary influences. Menegoni said he learned to cook in kitchens from chefs, rather than an academic setting, and believes in making dishes his own.

“You cook a dish one time and then you do that same thing five or six times and you craft it, each time you realize the little things, even the recipes that you get and it’s a classic recipe you still have to work through it yourself,” he said.

He describes his time at Picasso, where he was given unusual latitude in the kitchen, as a test kitchen for his first business.

Cuisines represented in the menu range from Italian through Greek, Lebanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Indian, Thai and Japanese — often simultaneously. Herb-crusted, pan-roasted chicken with feta basmati rice, garlic-braised greens and roasted tomato, for instance, or pistachio and Parmesan crusted whitefish sauteed in olive oil with garlic roasted tomatoes, or sesame ginger hoisin chicken wings with garlic aioli.

While ingredients like olive oil and basmati rice can’t be sourced locally, Menegoni focuses on small-batch producers, avoiding industrial scale production.

Great Falls serves brunch on Sundays in addition to dinner, and Chaffee said they may eventually expand to serve lunch and extend the dinner hours.

Thomas Ratte, originally of Warwick and former proprietor of Soup, on Main Street in Greenfield, currently occupies the lunch slot. Ratte this month began renting the space to sell soup Monday through Friday, as “Soup at Great Falls Harvest.” Ratte said he offers three to five soups at a time, cooking with local ingredients where possible, and considers the businesses a good fit.

Ratte and Chaffee both said they have found the local business community very welcoming. “I think that says a lot about a community when even your competition welcomes you,” Ratte said.

Great Falls Harvest is open 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday for brunch, and 5 to 8 p.m. for dinner.

Ratte’s soup component is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:

ccurtis@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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