Monday, November 27, 2006

Historic Restaurant Tour
#1 of 6

Springtown Inn
3258 Main Street (Route 212)
Springtown, PA
Photo courtesy Stefan Seigel

I was psyched when the editor of Lehigh Valley Magazine asked me to write a piece on restaurants in historic (read: old) buildings. Not only would I be researching and promoting small businesses in historic buildings, but I had 6 excuses to eat out. How lucky could a writer get?

My first outing was to Springtown Inn, in Bucks County, on October 14. My husband, son, and I went to the Durham Day autumn celebration at the township's historic grist mill, the former site of Durham Furnace, a colonial manufacturer of pig iron. Located just off the Delaware River on Cook's Creek, Durham Furnace was a maker of ammunition for the Continental Army during the Revolution.

After the festival, we drove several miles west on Rt. 212 to Springtown Inn, built on the route that the Walking Purchase of 1737 was run. Though the inn wasn't built till many years after the Indians were tricked out of their prime hunting lands, I found its connection to the "purchase" irresistible.

Unfortunately the current owners--who've run the restaurant for a year and a half--apparently don't know much about their building, the restaurant has no Web site (in fact, no Internet presence at all), and when I went there (I specifically planned an early dinner--no harried owner, no harried chef), I found the owner to be unusually reserved for one in the hospitality industry. He had little to say, didn't offer a tour or to answer questions, even though he knew I would be writing about his establishment. (I'm not that intimidating!) The good news, though, is that the restaurant is family friendly--the previous owners didn't take kindly to pint-size diners, which was a shame. It's a prime opportunity for history-loving parents to talk to their kids about our area's rich past.

The Food
Turned out the food was just as forgettable. My husband and I shared a crab and spinach appetizer that tasted of old (but not yet bad) crab. It was served with tortilla chips, which is a great no-fuss choice for the server, but lacking for the diner.

I had a chicken dish that was okay, and my husband's steak was okay too. The service was attentive, not hovering and not forgetful. The specialty there is prime rib, and you can get 1-6 pounds of it!

For me, the best part of the whole experience was just being in the dining room. We were practically enrobed in stone walls and were treated to bird's-eye views of the huge fieldstone archway (I'd never seen anything like it) and fireplaces that had tavern mugs hanging on pegs under the mantel. The renovated ceiling features exposed floor joists and the hardwood floors are covered with oriental-style area rugs. Great ambience.

Final Word
The building: incredible; the service: great; the food: eh. Try it for dessert first.

Mel's mark: lll
3 stars (out of 5)

No comments: