New England dining >>> Eagle Brook Saloon, Norfolk, Mass., Dining ReviewThe Eagle Brook Saloon Brings a Look of the Wild West --and Delicious Food -- to a Family-Friendly Setting
Article and photo by Eric H.
The ambiance strikes once again when walking up the front porch steps where an old wood smell that always seems to reside at older countrified restaurants with character and charm. The inside confirms what was suspected: a scene that looks like something out of the Wild West with its authentic-looking creaky, rustic, "old west" bar and dining room theme. A wide staircase twists and turns to the upstairs where weathered wooden railings with spindles separate you and the lively, crowded scene downstairs. The upstairs has a main dining room with several smaller dining rooms sectioned off -- perfect for small to mid-sized parties, or for those looking to get away for some peace and quiet. The Eagle Brook also offers an outdoor second floor porch dining deck in the warmer weather.
Although "Wild West" places have a made-by-television reputation for not being family-friendly, the Eagle Brook accommodates all ages, has a good kids menu, and a staff that acts more like your friendly neighbors rather than a scene from one of those movies portraying dangerous backwoods people. To validate the gentrified theme even more, the Eagle Brook shares space (same building) with With Heart in Hand, an old-fashioned two-story country store Martha Stewart would love with its country home furnishings, decorations, fabrics and window treatments.
The Eagle Brook wasn't always a family-friendly place. Back in the early 1980s, the Eagle Brook had a reputation of bringing in a rougher crowd -- mostly decent types with an edge, but also a contingent looking like they escaped from the Walpole Prison (now Cedar Junction) a few miles up the road. This writer remembers seeing New Riders of the Purple Sage, a rowdy, eccentric American country rock band with Grateful Dead leanings, turning the amps up to play a lively set. As more of a David Gates and Bread-type fan, this was a real eye-opener for me and typical of the Eagle Brook scene back in the day. My goal was to not talk about my musical tastes with anyone (including friends), so as to not be thrown over the railings from the second floor.
Back to the Eagle Brook today: it is fantastic in every aspect -- food, atmosphere, service and value for the money. They also offer a wide varities of well-known commercial beers, and their own handcrafted ales, including blue, oatmeal stout with coffee and chocolate overtones, and King Philip Dark ale (darker version of the traditional amber ale with a complex flavor produced by utilizing 6 varieties of grain).
The Carson City beef stew (simmered in Eagle Brook Stout and in a bread bowl), homemade "Boot Hill" chili, char-broiled burgers, mouthwatering steaks cooked to near perfection, Shepard's Pie, cheesy homemade bar pizza, nachos, fried clams, New England clam chowder and fries are all tremendous, about as good as it gets for these types of food. Other than the legendary Buffalo Head Steakhouse in Forestport Station, N.Y. (Adirondacks), it hard to think of a better steak -- especially the rib eye and prime rib -- we've tasted at a rural or suburban location. The highlight for dessert is the apple crisp, made locally at "The Big Apple" farm in Wrentham, Mass., and served warm with a rich vanilla ice cream.
Eagle Brook belies its Wild West theme by offering many natural, organic-based food selections, including free-range chicken used in many of its dishes. There's also heart-healthy salmon and salads. The salads are really ample and terrific, especially the Caesar with a tangy, but not overly so dressing.
Convenient to Gillette Stadium/Patriot Place in Foxboro, Mass., and the Wrentham Outlets, the Eagle Brook Saloon delivers an all-around great informal dining experience with a look that you won't find in too many places in this neck of the woods called eastern Massachusetts. What really makes the Eagle Brook worthy, however, is the food is just outright excellent. Go west (or east, south of north), young (and old) diner!
Eagle Brook Saloon
Norfolk, MA 02056
Tel. (508) 384-7312
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