For a period of time, the Allenberry Resort appeared to be in danger of closing—that is, until a group of investors joined together to save the historic landmark.
Since then, work has been underway to bring the resort into the new era, while preserving much of its old-world charm.
Renovations have been ongoing for almost a year now, and a much-anticipated restaurant opened its doors to the public just recently. “The Barn,” located in the Fairfield Building, dates back to 1778 and serves up locally sourced farm-to-table fare.
Rather than give the establishment time to work out any service issues, I decided to take a chance that “The Barn” would hit the ground running—and they did.
My friend and I arrived on a Friday night and found our way to the restaurant area located behind the Lodge check-in desk.
The first sight guests see upon entering is a striking, L-shaped bar illuminated by grouped Edison pendant lighting and wall-mounted flat-screen televisions. An employee took our names and led us to a separate area with high and low-top tables and cozy banquettes where we were seated.
Within minutes our waitress appeared and offered us the “After 4 Menu.” From the wooden floors, to the cute tractor/silo salt-and-pepper shakers, to the pretzel bites served in a small pail before dinner, the décor hewed to the rustic theme that included the old mural on the front wall that the new owners decided to keep. The scene depicts a hunter in the brush with his trusty dogs at his heels. If you examine it closely, you’ll see that one of the characters has been carefully removed—the unfortunate outcome of a family squabble.
The two-page menu lists several “starters,” which include selections like charcuterie and house made fried cheeses. “Shoestring French fries,” are in a category by themselves. Patrons can choose from various iterations, ranging from standard, to truffle fries with grated parmesan and peppercorn aioli, to “Barn Fries,” with bacon, onions, peppers, poached egg and smoked maple ketchup—an unusual combination that, in retrospect, I should have tried.
A selection of flatbreads with toppings like BBQ chicken, mushroom, fig and duck are meals unto themselves. For those who like to share small plates, there are four from which to choose, like crab cocktail and braised artichoke.
On the lighter side are salads, like the Barn’s take on the traditional Wedge, grilled peppercorn Caesar and a “Victorian Watermelon,” comprised of watercress, arugula, fennel, feta, radish flower and honey lemon vinaigrette.
Entrees include steak, trout, filet, scallops and chicken, to name a few. Vegetarians will likely appreciate the “Vegetable Napoleon,” made with roasted eggplant, sautéed spinach, plum tomatoes, roasted red peppers and goat cheese served over polenta and finished with rosemary red pepper coulis.
I chose the “Antebellum Onion soup” ($8) from the “Salad and Soups” selection, and paired that with the NY Strip Steak au Poivre ($26).
My dining companion selected the “Mason/Dixon Chicken” ($19), described on the menu as an “airline chicken breast over farmhouse mash and bourbon Brussels sprouts with a wild mushroom veloute.” For those unfamiliar with the term “airline chicken,” it’s best described as a boneless breast with the drumette attached and is sometimes known as “frenched breast.”
Our seat provided us a nice view of the attractive terrace that overlooks the Yellow Breeches, but also placed us right in the path of a busy door that opened and closed untold times while waitresses and waiters emerged from the kitchen—something I’ll keep in mind on a return visit.
The staff appeared to do a good job of ensuring that everyone was happy, and our waitress was quite attentive.
Shortly after ordering, I was digging into my crock of onion soup, which arrived with a dainty pair of scissors. I arrived at the conclusion that more restaurants should do this to avoid the inelegant cheese struggle that usually ensues. As for the soup itself, I would have preferred a lighter hand with the salt.
My steak was the star feature that night—cooked to a perfect medium rare and served with sautéed spinach and thinly sliced potatoes. The green peppercorn cognac sauce that accompanied the entrée allowed the flavors of the steak to shine through.
My dining companion enjoyed his dish as well, remarking on the flavorful meat and the roasted bourbon brussels sprouts. He described the wild mushroom sauce that contained just a hint of vinegar as a unique complement to the chicken.
Those with a sweet tooth may be interested to know that dessert selections change daily. During the evening of our visit, The Barn was offering lemon drop pie, gluten-free flourless chocolate torte and an Allenberry sticky bun with ice cream.
Those who have yet to see the resort, post-renovation, should consider visiting while everything is green and lush. The view from the terrace is particularly lovely this time of year.
Up Next: Lunch at Fay’s Country Kitchen in Carlisle.