By Margaret Locher, Contributing Writer
Grafton – When summer arrives, you don's want to waste a moment indoors if you can avoid it. The best place to have a meal al fresco is at 25 on the Common restaurant at the Grafton Inn. The patio is lovely, the food is outstanding, and it overlooks the Grafton Common center, which has live music once a week during the summer.
When my boyfriend's brother returned home from college, we had no doubt where we would take him to celebrate his graduation. 25 on the Common is always bustling: A group was celebrating a 50th birthday in the dining room, every seat at the bar area was occupied, and a solo acoustic guitarist was performing. John Pardee, owner of the Grafton Inn, seated us. We ordered beers, and, since we were hungry, immediately put in an appetizer order of chicken quesadillas ($8.99).
The menu has such a variety of options: pizzas and sandwiches like the turkey BLT ($7.00) or a lobster roll ($14.99); steaks and seafood like the ahi tuna dinner with homemade ginger sesame sauce ($18.99) or the fish and chips ($12.99); and homey choices such as the chicken pot pie ($10.99). Many of those are meals we'se chosen often in the past. Tonight, though, we each tried something new. I ordered from the pasta selections??”scallops capri, served with feta, tomatoes, walnuts and spinach over linguine with garlic bread ($16.99). My boyfriend was curious about the garlic mashed potato pizza, made with scallions and Monterey jack cheese ($12.99). The college graduate ordered chicken marsala ($14.99).
The restaurant has a new chef??”Todd Nagy??”who came to the inn after serving as executive chef at Old Sturbridge Village. Our meals were fresh and perfectly done.
While we ate, we enjoyed the view of the white gazebo amid the green grass of the common across the street, edged by a fence decorated with American flags. We listened to the guitarist singing from the bar area. I thought about how 25 on the Common is a great spot for so many occasions. I bring my mom here for lunch when she visits; we stop in on weeknights when we don's feel like cooking; there is trivia night to enjoy with friends on Tuesdays and weekly live music. No matter the season, you can either enjoy a warm fire inside or the cool breeze on the patio.
Even though we were full, we had to try one of the desserts made from scratch by owner Laurie Pardee. We ordered a slice of lemon raspberry pie a la mode and – holy cow – was it delicious. I could repeat this meal every day.
25 on the Common is located in the Grafton Inn, 25 Grafton Common. The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from noon to 8 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays. For more information, call 508-839-5931 or visit www.grafton-inn.com.