Berkshire Secrets: The Dream Away Lodge
It is no secret to the locals....and probably not to a large percentage of second homeowners. And judging from the crowd last night: a dreary, cold, April Saturday night, maybe it is no secret at all.
What is indisputable, though, is that it is in the middle of nowhere. Their website asks you to ignore your GPS (although mine got me there last night just fine). Located in the woods near Becket, the Dream Away is tucked somewhere on October Mountain. Their history...according to the website:
The Dream Away Lodge has been a Berkshire legend for more than 90 years. Rumored to have been a brothel and speakeasy during the great depression, this two hundred year old farmhouse at the edge of October Mountain State Forest is renown for its larger than life founders, Mamma Maria Frasca and her three musical daughters, and a colorful history, rich in music and local mythology.
The 1975 visitation by Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg and the Rolling Thunder Review, led to the Dream Away's prominent role in Part Two of Dylan's epic film Renaldo and Clara - enhancing an already unmatched reputation as one of Berkshire County's best loved and most closely held hilltown secrets. Since the lodge's purchase by former actor and theater maker Daniel Osman in 1997, the lodge's legend has been rather spectacularly reborn. Part restaurant, part bar, part music venue and all theater, the Dream Away features locally grown and sourced food, an imaginative and affordable menu in its own inimitable style, and a wide range of music, art, theater, cabaret and spoken word events.
"We make it out there a couple of times per year. Last night, Susan I took Susan's sister, Lynn for her first visit. The food has always been "part of the experience" but last night, the food stood on its own. We had a great meal. In the past, the food has been more "family style," price fix, with several choices in each category. Now there seems to be an effort to upscale the menu choices and the wines.
So what did I mean "part of the experience?" I got off subject because last night's meal blew us away.
The "experience" starts with the fact that you have to be a Boy Scout to find the place. Once you see the neon Coors sign in the distance you know you have found it. Then there is always a campfire in the front yard, attended by the parking lot guys. Walk in and you are greeted with a collection of kitch that does not end. It really does not end. The place is a rambling set of room after room...most of them extensions of the original house, and every wall and shelf offers something to ponder....including the interior's first impression: a framed copy of Marilyn Monroe's nude Playboy centerfold (along with a disclaimer asking children to avert eyes). Not that children come here....this is an adult playground.
And by playground, I get to the main reason for the Dream Away's reputation and repeat business. The entertainment.
As you enter the Dream Away, you go left for the bar and the dining rooms. But if you go right, you are in the living room. Old couches, pillows on the floor. Roaring fire. And music. Every night there is music. Some nights are professional entertainers. Some nights are open mike...which really consists of people who bring their guitars, or sit down at the piano. On those nights you will hear a professional musician just passing through...or a 12-year-old kid making his first attempt to perform beyond his bedroom. All get the same respect from the patrons who bring their wine and after-dinner-drinks into the living room for the third act of their "experience." For a list of upcoming performers at the Dream Away.