One of our favorite places for a late lunch (early dinner?) is Ethan’s Family Restaurant in Holden, Massachusetts.
Holden is a small town of 17,346 and founded in 1741. The town is steeped in history with even the town square center donated by John Hancock. Sometimes it’s the quite little towns that offer the best food you’ll find. My husband happened to find Ethan’s on Groupon one day and we’ve been hooked ever since.
The outside of the restaurant is very simple with a single door entry displaying an ‘open’ sign and an American flag waving in the breeze. But, once you walk in, it all changes with an inviting and eye catching mixture of 1920s decor and rich red and yellow hues.
There are three dining areas off the entrance foyer – main dining with wide stained glass windows, the grill with a full service bar and a private dining room for reserved occasions.
We like to arrive right when they open at 4:30 so that we have the entire place to ourselves for the first few minutes and Little Man can walk around. They begin to fill up between 5:00 and 5:30. But even then, I love the casual conversations that always spring up with the patrons as they chat across the dining room to each other. It’s almost like having dinner at a family member’s house with everyone saying hello and how are you.
Forget the single coloring sheet. Ethan’s provides a full coloring book for each child. This time Little Man got Transformers. But he still couldn’t keep his hands off the colored glass stones in the table centerpiece.
Little Man loves visits to Ethan’s because the waitstaff are always thrilled to see him. They take time to talk to him, ask him if he’s having fun and they don’t mind at all when he walks around ‘touring’ the restaurant. The casual atmosphere, easy going staff and overall conversational attitude of the patrons makes Ethan’s extremely friendly for families with small children.
I have to take a moment to mention the bread. Oh my goodness. Handmade, thick crusted and so chewy on the inside. It’s always served steaming hot and disappears from our table in minutes.
Ethan’s is one of the few places I can still have a cold soda in a frosted mug.
My husband loves the Half-Rack rib special. It’s huge and the meat just melts in your mouth. The portions are so large that they serve it on a platter instead of a plate. Dan couldn’t eat it all and brought half home for our teenager. (who was more than happy to devour them!)
I got the Cape Cod Platter which features shrimp, sea scallops and haddock deep fried in a home made, buttery batter. For sides I grabbed a chef salad and thin cut onion rings. Again, the portions are so impressive. The sea scallops alone were about 5″ wide and 2″ thick. Suffice to say, I couldn’t finish mine either, but I gave it a valiant effort.
Ethan’s provides a compact, but exceptional menu. Seafood meals that would cost you upwards of $25 at other restaurants average $15 at Ethan’s; surf and turf combos average $19. Even though Ethan’s offers ‘diner pricing’ the lower cost isn’t reflected in the quality of the meals at all. I’ve had a different dish each visit and never been disappointed. Savory, crispy and delicious – every time.