Thursday, July 16, 2009

Review: Tailgate Picnic

Tailgate Picnic of 7 College St., South Hadley, Mass is one of those places that you don't really appreciate until you're a little bit more grown up. As a kid, I grew up in South Hadley, but never really felt for Tailgate the way I do now. You could call it a love affair...and that would be putting it lightly. Tailgate is a part of the Village Commons which is basically the center of town and it's right across the street from Mt. Holyoke College. Most people that go there do so regularly, and the staff comes to know these "regulars" orders like the back of their hands.

Tailgate offers a variety of different breakfast and lunch sandwiches, as well as salads, soups and other specials. They also specialize in gourmet gift baskets, which can be ordered from their website and delivered. They have a wide selection of beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, as well as all of the accompaniments that you might need to go along with your meal.
As a kid, I was a little bit picky about what I ate. So, every time I would go, which wasn't very often, I would get a salad with a scoop of tuna on it. It's your average, lighter-fare meal, with a garden salad of a few veggies and some romaine, topped with a scoop of tuna. Perfect if you're looking for a healthy meal, not so perfect if you don't want to be bored.

Thankfully, I smartened up in my old age. I sort of forgot about Tailgate for a while, and then as soon as I got my license, Tailgate became the place to go. That was when my love affair started. The Smoked Turkey sandwich is great. It's full of smoked turkey, Swiss cheese, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and a garlic aioli. And, for the kids, I don't think I know a kid in South Hadley who hasn't gotten the Chicken Tenders Club at least one time in their life. It's warm breaded chicken tenders, bacon, American cheese, mayo, lettuce, and tomato all on a baguette and they just go crazy for it. My 17-year-old sister still orders this, nothing else. The grown up version of this sandwich is the Banker. It's the same chicken but this time with melted cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and guacamole all in a wrap. They warm it up and it's a nice Mexican twist on a classic. I always used to get the Harvest. It's turkey, whole grain honey mustard, sharp yellow cheddar, and granny smith apples with romaine on any type of bread. It's healthy, with really sharp flavors, and it tastes great. But, I got kind of sick of it, so I decided to try something different.

The Sundried Tomatoes is fresh mozzarella, homemade pesto, and sundried tomatoes on a baguette, and it is, to this day, my go-to sandwich. Still, I change it up a bit. The sundried tomatoes they use are more like shoe leather than anything, so I omit them and ask for fresh tomatoes instead. I get it all on a rustic roll (code for a fresh ciabatta roll) and at $6.50 you can not go wrong. Their pesto is to die for...(try the pesto tortellini from the deli window as well). They lightly press the sandwich just enough to warm the bread through but not to melt the cheese. If they have caramelized onions that day, I always have them throw a few on for the perfect touch of sweetness. It's delicious, tastes like summer, and really fills you up.

They also offer different quiches, lasagnas, soups, chillis and even macaroni and cheese. The artichoke salad with chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and fresh mozzarella is a great summertime salad that is light and full of great fresh flavor. And they just opened up their pastry window, which has a variety of great options from carrot cake, to a round chocolate torte with ganache and mousse and anything else chocolate you can imagine. It basically looks like a chocolate ball, and then the inside is full of different chocolate layers.

They have seating available inside as well as outside for the warmer months, and no matter what the occasion, you can always be sure that the food will be great, the atmosphere will be friendly, and the prices will be low. But be ready, because Tailgate may just become your new love affair as well.


  1. I still get the chicken tender club.
    Nice job Alex.

  2. Thanks for post.
    It’s really informative stuff.
    I really like to read. Hope to learn a lot and have a nice experience here