PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There’s a high energy vibe at slopeside bars and eateries. But sometimes, more often than not, when the mountain euphoria wears down, couples start thinking about a quiet drink, a well prepped meal and an intimate table for two. Let’s visit a sampling near the slopes and trails of Pennsylvania. They are year-to-year traditions that have mellowed with the test of time.
NEAR SHAWNEE AND CAMELBACK
The Delaware Water Gap hit the Pocono heights in the mid-1950’s for scenic splendor and unhurried getaways. At the center of the lure was the Deer Head Inn which had gained a reputation as an intimate destination for Jazz Lovers. It still holds our attraction at a low key Jazz bar and dining room with a menu that ranges from steaks and chops to familiar seafood plus a nod to veggie munchers. The music reigns from Thursday nights through the weekend. A clutch of rooms upstairs are ideal for overnight stays.
The small town of Milford on the Delaware River appears frozen in time. The classic 19th century Hotel Fauchere is the centerpiece. Convenient to Shawnee and Camelback, it is a couples haven with 2 relaxing rooms for sipping and supping. The Delmonico Room offers elegance and creative takes on familiar foods in an upscale presentation. Bar Louis is a comfy room where Mary and I enjoy drinks and a shared raw bar combo or cheese plate. Then a cozy dinner of familiar or unusual creations – think sushi pizza. Both restaurants keep winter weekend schedules. Fauchere is also the place for romantic overnight stays while weekending on the slopes.
As long as my memory transits the Pocono Mountains, the Tannersville Inn has been a waypoint. When skiing at Camelback it’s minutes away and provides a diversity in mood. But for couples looking for an intimate setting, ask for a table in the “Green House”. It is just that – a lush flora and fauna backdrop and a menu selection that circles familiar American fare with an excursion into Italian and Latin flavors. Fun bar too.
ELK AND MONTAGE MOUNTAIN AREA
Since I discovered the fireplace glow in the 4-table intimate lounge at the Crystal Lake Hotel, it’s been a traditional stop when at Elk or Montage Mountains. That’s 40 years of enjoying wonderful Italian dinners at a lakeside treasure. Sadly the patriarch Frank Oliveri passed away in his 90’s and Aunt Jeanne, who tolerated my looking over her shoulder in the kitchen traded her apron for a harp just last year. But son, Patrick who grew up doing every job in the place is now at the helm with help from his 2 daughters. For an intimate couples evening, choose Friday night over busier Saturdays and reserve one of the 4 lounge tables well in advance. My favorites here – a shrimp scampi appetizer followed by pan-seared lamb chops on a sizzzling platter.
When skiing and staying at Bear Creek Mountain Resort, I’ve found the Grille at the mountain a comfortable spot for a quiet couples dinner. Area locals have also made it a favorite for intimate celebrations. No winter driving is involved, leave coats in your room at the lodge and just head downstairs. Sip a well mixed Martini and Manhattan at a lounge table by the fire. Then score a window table for a view of the mountain and skiers, traversing the hill under the lights. The menu is a compilation of regional favorites – smoked trout, Amish chicken and bacon wrapped meatloaf, plus a dip into Asian flavors and a hint of Latin America. But if you are up for a short drive, 2 nearby country eateries fill the couples bill – the Landis Store Hotel and the Inn at Maple Grove.
Road signs near Seven Springs, Pennsylvania’s largest all-season resort warn, “Aggressive Driver Area”. All the more reason to stay on the resort grounds when the sun goes down, Happy Hour begins and thoughts of dinner shifts the mind from slopes to sips and sups. But an array of restaurants at the resort, which is also a municipality make the decision to stay aboard an easy one. For dining in a fireside warmed room that echoes of early America, make a reservation at Helen’s. But leave time for drinks at the cozy piano bar with it’s windows on the mountain. Then transfer to a table for a candlelit experience with a bit of venison or my favorite, Osso Bucco. Fin food lovers will find a moist Sea Bass or Mountain Trout. If you lean toward green, an array of salads and a vegan take on Sweet Potato Gnocchi decorates the plate.
There are other hand-holding, quiet-conversation spots for fine food and inner warming drinks near Pennsylvania slopes and trails. We’ll visit them as the season, seasons.