This is Part 12 of my Bermuda trip report series. In Part 11, I covered our escape from Boston followed by our drive down the Appalachian Mountains and foothills, from western Massachusetts to Cumberland, Maryland. In this installment, I’m going to backtrack just a tad. 32 miles to be precise, to the town of Bedford, Pennsylvania, where my wife and I made plans to drop in for lunch at the Frontier Tavern at the Historic Bedford Springs Resort. Traffic was light, so we rolled in a few minutes after noon, or perfect timing for a lunch stop.
To review our itinerary and other posts in my trip report series so far, read my Bermuda trip report introduction and index.
Frontier Tavern at the Historic Bedford Springs Resort
- Omni Bedford Springs Resort, 2138 Business 220, Bedford, PA
- Hours: Sun-Thurs 11 am – 10 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am – 11 pm
- Directions: from the Pennsylvania Turnpike (IH 76), exit US 220 and head south towards Bedford. Take the exit for US 30 Business (Lincoln Highway), and turn right (east). Continue to downtown Bedford, then turn right (south) at US 220 Business. Drive approximately 1.5 miles, then turn left at the sign for the Bedford Springs Resort. NOTE: when coming south on US 220, DO NOT take the exit for US 30 itself. You will not be able to access US 220 Business from the main highway. Instead, continue across the river and take the exit for US 30 Business.
- Website: http://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/bedford-springs/dining/frontier-tavern
You might be wondering why we were so eager to eat at a hotel restaurant. I do usually avoid them, as hotel restaurants tend to aim for the lowest common denominator; they end up as a jack of all trades but a master of none. But we looked up the menu online, and it looked pretty good – a smallish menu with only a handful of items, rather than the kitchen sink you usually find at hotel restaurants. Plus, I really wanted to check out the historic resort grounds while we were in this part of the country, so this gave us a good excuse. NOTE: I’ll provide a brief history and description of the resort itself after the review of our meal.
Upon arrival, we left our car with the valet, and a wonderfully friendly resort manager greeted us. He welcomed us to Bedford Springs, and when we told him that we were there to have lunch at the Tavern and that it was our first visit to the resort, personally walked us to the restaurant. He also procured a resort guidebook for us, and recommended that we try the lobster mac and cheese. A hostess seated us promptly, and a server came over quickly to take our drink orders.
The Tavern is located in the “Stone Inn” building, constructed circa 1806. It definitely has a rustic feel to it (especially the old wood floors). It was surprisingly uncrowded for a holiday weekend. The restaurant does have a nice atmosphere, and looked like it would be an especially lively place in the evening, especially around the “Fire Pit” outside.
I started off with the cheese and fruit plate. My wife had the shrimp, crab, and lobster fritters. The Tavern apparently rotates their menus seasonally, so neither are currently on offer. If you have a hankering for a cheese plate, though, you can order the ploughman’s board, which is basically the same thing except with deli meat instead of fruit.
The cheese plate, as with the ploughman’s board, features local artisinal cheeses. All three on the plate were delicious, especially the blue cheese. I also enjoyed the fig compote, though beware, it is very, very sweet. My wife’s fritters looked incredibly delicious, and indeed, they were (I had half of one) – perfectly fried, crisp, and golden brown, and matched perfectly with the creamy dipping sauce. I probably could have eaten these all day, but I wanted to save room for the main course – lobster mac and cheese, as recommended by the manager. My wife had the same thing.
Don’t be deceived by the photo. This looks like a small serving, but it will fill you up. The lobster here isn’t as good as what you’ll find in Boston, but it was still decent, sweet and tender, and cooked well. The mac and cheese itself – oh my. I like fancy mac and cheese, and this version didn’t disappoint. This baked version was incredibly creamy, and matched very well with the lobster. The bread crumb topping provided for a good contrast of texture, providing some crunch to an otherwise very gooey dish. And that was going to be it for the afternoon.
The desserts looked yummy, but this was a pretty heavy meal, and I didn’t want to weigh myself down further with another 8+ hours of driving to go. The Tavern is also known for its local microbrews; something else I really would have liked to try, but not today since I’d be driving. Service was decent; our waitress wasn’t particularly attentive, but took our orders and delivered our food promptly, and we were out in under an hour. My main complaint with the place: it was pricey. The food was good, but after the tip, we were out $87. That’s pretty steep for an informal spot like the Tavern.
Before leaving, we had a few minutes to walk around the sprawling resort. The Bedford Springs Resort itself has a long, storied history. The mineral springs that made the resort famous were used by the Native Americans of the area for centuries, and were discovered by the area’s early American settlers in 1796. The first of the hotel’s buidings, the Stone Inn, was build in 1806, and soon after, the resort became a magnet for tourists from around the young nation.
President James Buchanan used the resort as his summer white house, and a total of seven U.S. presidents were hosted at the resort, with Dwight Eisenhower being the last. In addition, the resort was home to one of the country’s first golf courses, constructed in 1896 and redesigned by the famed Donald Ross in 1923, and featured one of the country’s first Olympic-sized indoor swimming pools when it was completed in 1905. Like many of America’s historic hotels, the resort gradually fell into disrepair, but was renovated and re-opened in 2007 under the Omni Hotels flag.
I’m a sucker for historic hotels and buildings, but the resort really is beautiful, nestled in a valley and surrounded by the Allegheny Mountains. Of course, it helped that it was such a gorgeous spring day.
Stone Inn building with lounge chairs
Main lobby area
Porch area of Stone Inn building w/ rocking chairs
Gazebo across from main entrance
Main hotel entrance and fountain
Pennsylvania historical marker sign in front of hotel
Stone Inn building and hotel front lawn
Looking across front lawn towards golf course
Rating: 4 stars. Good food, good atmosphere, beautiful setting, but pricey for what you get. A nice place to treat yourself if you’re in this part of the world, though.