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The UXLocale in Uxbridge, Massachusetts Captures the Locals Flavors of New England in an Idyllic Rural Setting

Sockeye salmom over cheesy risotto over arugala salad and fig balsamic glaze from The UxLocale in Uxbridge, Mass.

Sockeye salmon with cheesy risotto over arugula and a fig balsamic glaze from The UXLocale in Uxbridge.

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 11/15/17.

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As the sun sets over the hills in rural central Massachusetts, the brilliant rays of light and panoramic views of fields that seem to have no end point reflect endless possibilities for Elaine Cowan at her new restaurant, The UXLocale in Uxbridge, Mass.

Positioned at the top of a hill and as a restaurant that goes beyond satisfying diners who love locally-sourced food and drink, The UXLocale offers the dining-out dream-come-true combination of delicious fare, a rustic and welcoming atmosphere, an owner, family and staff as genuine and welcoming as the beautiful countryside, and incredible scenic views from the seasonal outdoor patio.

View of a brilliant sunset from The UxLocale in Uxbridge, Mass.
Sunset views from the patio at The UXLocale.

The evolving menu at The UXLocale suggests a work in progress, but simultaneously validates that this relatively new restaurant has already arrived as a go-to dining out destination in an idyllic, ideal location. Frequently, lines out the door create a full capacity scene at the handsome yet rustic dining room and bar areas on many nights. Hard to believe, but The UXLocale resides just 15 miles from Worcester, Mass., the second largest city in New England. The ride from Boston only takes an hour, while locals from Uxbridge and charming, small neighboring towns like Douglas, Northbridge, Mendon, Sutton and Millville can arrive within minutes for some of the freshest-tasting food in the area. Additionally, those from Providence, R.I. -- a major New England city which oddly seems to have a shortage of noteworthy farm-to-table restaurants -- find the easy 25 mile ride up Route 146 a foodie and escape-from-the-city revelation.

Interestingly enough, however, The UXLocale does not fit into the paint-by-numbers, overinflated 21st century definition of a farm-to-table restaurant. Part of that difference exists in The UXLocale's menu, which focuses more on pizza and pasta. More importantly, The UxLocale taps into more than local farms.

"We are not about to jump on the farm-to-table bandwagon," said Cowan, who not only serves as owner but also head chef. "We all know that (for example) produce comes from farms! That's where restaurants get their produce. Yes, we source from farms, but make sure to source locally beyond farms. You can't source a lemon locally, so how can a restaurant completely call itself a farm to table restaurant if there are many items that aren't local and from farms? I just say, don't be so pretentious about the farm-to-table thing. Just serve good food!"

Seafood and pasta at The UXLocale in Uxbridge, Mass.
Seafood and pasta at The UXLocale. Phot credit: The UxLocale

Meaningful connections with local businesses help Cowan to create her culinary masterpieces. Sure, sourcing from farms like Douglas Orchard Farm,
Chockalong Farm, First Leaves Family Farm, Foppemo's Farm, Potter Hill Farm, and Union Station Farms provide the farm-to-table element, but The UXLocale takes it to the next level with strong relationships with A P Fish Company, D'Errico's Market and Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace -- all in Worcester. Cowan also prefers, as many New Englanders do, the heavenly, homemade ice cream from Richardson's in Middleton, Mass. Additionally, The UXLocale purchases its high quality coffee from Clutch Coffee, out of Portland, Ore.

Fresh  local veggies from The UXLocale restaurant in Uxbridge, Massachusetts
Veggies straight from local farms at The UXLocale. Photo credit: The UXLocale

Sourcing virtually everything within miles of The UXLocale stands as a business priority and Cowan promises to be as transparent as possible -- that is apparent when taking the first step into the restaurant...

Local sourcing sign at The UxLocale in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
The UXLocale prioritizes sourcing from local businesses.

Those who choose to go beyond the basics usually have stories of challenges, including career changes and the endless work that goes into starting one's own business. Cowan is no exception. The long and winding road that leads to The UXLocale previously also provided a long route for Cowan to arrive at her career passion. Working as a social worker, caterer, a food writer, in an art museum and most importantly as a stay-at-home mom lovingly raising her children, Cowan had a long-standing vision that proves that it is never too late to follow a dream.

A Worcester Mass., native who loved to play chef as a child at her parent's kitchen island counter, Cowan carried that love for cooking into adulthood at her own home and for family and friends. Following in the vein of chefs with no formal training like Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa), Cowan falls into the category of "You just can't teach this stuff." She has years of trial-and-error, self-taught cooking experience first inspired by her Italian and Irish upbringing, and an uncanny, innate sense what satisfies the taste buds of others. "I had no formal training. I would just go into homes and cook," said Cowan.

The challenge was, how could she translate her talents into opening a restaurant? A few years back, Cowan heard about the West Uxbridge property for rent and decided to move forward with her long-awaited career change. With husband Charles Cowan lll, son Charles (Chad) lV, daughter Antonia and a huge support network of relatives and friends from all generations -- including those around the 80-year-old mark -- the crew worked together to essentially gut the building, restore, revitalize and ultimately transform it into the rustic gem it is today.

Cowan family at The UXLocale in Ubridge, Mass.
Charles (Chad) lll, Charles IV, Elaine and Antonia Cowan at The UXLocale. Photo credit: The UxLocale.

"I had talked to a girlfriend about my dream and she said 'You want to open a restaurant!'" said Cowan. "I said, 'No,' it is more than just a restaurant -- it's a dream -- but I had trouble fully explaining it."

No explanation is needed when customers experience the masterfully-created dining ambiance and food. Outside, though, the rolling hills, old barn, silo, lack of noticeable signs and a plain-looking entrance might throw some people off -- wondering if they are entering a farm stand -- but once inside, the magic begins.  While the mismatched tables and chairs go against the grain of everything having to be HGTV-perfect, the reality is that The UXLocale stands as a perfect match for so many people looking for a high-end dining experience without the crazy prices and affected chef and staff drama. It is first and foremost, a family run-operation.

Cowan has created a restaurant perfectly compatible with her sincere, gracious, unaffected personality. The dining room exudes a authentic warmth that could only seem genuine in rural America with its knotty pine walls and high ceilings, as well as an antique piano in the back. Art work by local artists line the walls and occasional live music also takes place in the quaint space.

Dining room at The UxLocale in Uxbridge, Massachusetts
The dining room at The UXLocale.

The bar -- painstakingly built yet lovingly crafted by son Chad -- provides a cozy setting for enjoying a constantly changing rotation of craft beers (many local kinds) and wines. Chad has a great understanding of local brews, and that knowledge helps the overall dining experience stand out.

The cozy bar at The UxLocale in Uxbridge, Mass.
The bar at The UXLocale.

Great local beer selection at The UXLocale in Uxbridge, Mass.
Great beers on tap at The UXLocale. Photo credit: The UXLocale.

"Much of the furniture is from hand-me-downs and we even got some church pews from Rhode Island." said Cowan. "Chad built the bar and did a great job. People seem to be receptive to the look. Nothing matches!"

During the warm weather, the outdoor patio provides a slice of heaven with its quiet setting and beautiful views...

Sunset by the patio at The UxLocale in Uxbridge MA.
The patio at The UXLocale. Photo source: The UxLocale Facebook fan page.

The menu -- with virtually all the food made from scratch -- showcases salads, small plates, appetizers, pizza, pasta, daily specials and homemade desserts. The pasta with sausage in vodka sauce is to die for, as well as the light, flavorful Margherita pizza with a fresh sauce of pomodoro tomatoes, mozzarella, freshly torn basil, and a touch of oregano.

Chad Cowan creates pizza at The UXLocale in Uxbridge, Mass.
Chad makes a Margherita pizza. Photo credit: The UXLocale.

Margherita pizza from The UxLocale in Uxbridge MA.
The final product. Yum!

Vodka pasta with sausage from The UXLocale in Uxbridge, Mass.
Pasta in vodka sauce with sausage  and homemade bread and wine at The UXLocale. Photo credit: The UXLocale.

What really makes The UXLocale even that much more special: the entire staff! They are all so nice and really seem to enjoy their jobs and working for Elaine.

"I am not sorry that I said 'Yes' to opening (the restaurant)," said Cowan. "I've waited my whole life to have something like this. I was able to stay and raise our children. That was great. Now this, and I love it."

Cowan stopped talking, struggled for the right words, and became teary. After being overcome with joy of her career accomplishment, she eventually found those words to express her gratitude and good fortune.

"I am more tired, but happier," said Cowan, of running her own business. "
Most of my life, we have just tried to make ends meet. If I had all the money in the world, I wouldn't know what to do with it. I just wanted my dream business and here it is."

The UXLocale is located at 510 Hartford Ave. Uxbridge MA. Tel. 508-779-7515. web site: Facebook fan page:

Also be sure to read:
Finding Little Red Riding Hood's Grandmother's House and a five-course meal in the middle of the New Hampshire woods.

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Explore Massachusetts travel! Read the Massachusetts Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel attractions: town commons. Includes chapters on nearby Sutton, Grafton and Worcester!

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Sunsets, farm fresh foods and local craft brews in a pleasant rustic atmosphere highlight dining at The UxLocale restaurant in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

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