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Restaurant Review:
The Butterfly Conservatory Snack Bar

by B. Russell

In Massachusetts, there is a small gem encased in a small one-road town formally known as Historic Deerfield. This gem also has a formal name, namely The Butterfly Conservatory Snack Bar. It has this name because it is a snack bar in The Butterfly Conservatory, which is a safe haven, an oasis in the desert (otherwise known as Massachusetts) for butterflies, many of whom are many miles from their homeland, don't speak any English, need a place to stay and aren't particularly concerned where that place is. This snack bar is a great choice because the sandwiches there aren't all that bad. This snack bar is also the only choice because it is the only restaurant in town.

When I and my female companion rolled off the exit ramp of the highway (in a car, not our actual persons) desperately looking for eats, it was the unique monopoly this snack bar had on the Historic Deerfield restaurant market that really made it stand out. We found it very odd that it was the only restaurant for miles. There were fresh fruit and vegetable roadside stands aplenty, but only one restaurant. Perhaps everyone in Historic Deerfield, being very history-conscious and therefore keenly aware that there were no restaurants in the pre-Neolithic, preferred to cook at home at all times. Perhaps all the inhabitants of this town were actually vegetable-loving rodents who preferred to eat all their foodstuffs raw. In this modern world, who can know for sure.

After noticing how small the town was, I would have expected their one snack bar to be pathetic. I was surprised, then, to find that what they called a snack bar was really a sizeable cafeteria, with colorful wallpaper and giant butterfly statues on the outside patio. There were picnic tables outside next to a large aromatic flower garden, a spacious air-conditioned dining area inside with a colorful butterfly mural decorating the walls, and an extensive row of beverage selections, including fountain drinks, coffee and the reputable Nantucket Farms line of bottled iced teas. Because I've had traumatic experiences with malicious soda fountains in the past, I went with a bottle of Coca-Cola, and my female companion chose Naya bottled water. Then we looked at the menu written on dry-erase boards tacked to the wall and placed our orders with the young-ish sandwich lady at the counter. It was a hot summer day so we chose cold sandwiches; my female companion ordered a chicken salad sandwich, and I chose a roast beef sandwich, topped with lettuce and tomato. We paid the young lady at the cash register (I was unsure whether she should be considered "jailbait") and went out to eat at one of the picnic tables outside.

Little did we realize what a treat we were in for. The sandwiches, being priced at a reasonable $5.25, came with chips and a homemade pickle. Though I am a tad unsure whether mine was actually a pickle or a cucumber, it was refreshing. The chips were crisp and not at all over-salted and the sandwiches were incredibly fresh and tasty. The roast beef sandwich I ordered was incredibly filling and yet left me wanting more just so I could consume it for a longer period of time, and the bite of chicken salad sandwich I stole from my female companion gave me evidence that my own sandwich was not a fluke; The Butterfly Conservatory knew how to make a good sandwich. Who knew that butterfly raising should segway into sandwich making so nicely.

The Coke and Naya were as to be expected.

The icing on the cake, though, was neither icing nor cake but rather some butterfly-shaped shortbread cookies my female companion shoplifted on the way out of the gift shop. The cookies were light and fresh, and reminded me of a crisp Autumn day I experienced one year ago when I left my dorm room one morning only to find that I had forgotten to eat breakfast, and as I walked down the sidewalk gazing at the changing leaves I thought to myself, these trees are so beautiful but gosh I should have had some breakfast.

(As an aside, the restroom tiles were decorated with little children's drawings of butterflies submitted by various visiting schoolchildren. I have not yet decided whether to regard this with disgust at the pitiful aesthetic sense these kids possessed, or with a whimsical yearning for my own youth and ignorance, or even with a jealous rage that I am now too old to submit my own butterfly art to those tiled walls.)

Overall, I would give the Butterfly Conservatory Snack Bar three thumbs way up. The food is surprisingly wonderful, the atmosphere is great thanks in no small part to the many butterflies and teenage motorbikers that populate the area, there is ample parking and the prices are quite reasonable. On the down side, the hours are not very good (they are only open when the Conservatory is open, namely 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and there are many small children and butterfly enthusiasts walking around, which can be disconcerting to individuals like myself. Nevertheless, it is a fine place to eat, and if by any slim chance you find yourself driving through Historic Deerfield on a Saturday afternoon and feel a pained rumbling in your stomach, you should consider trying the only game in town.


 but, er, fly?