Thursday, December 30, 2010

1796 in 2010

It's (yet again) been a while. Well, 'tis the season! PID and I have been spending all of our money on moms and dads and brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces and so we've had no time or dough for dinners out!

But we're back! And because I haven't seen you, Merry Christmas!

I hope your holiday was delicious!

I'll warn you now, this review isn't Pittsburgh based, but at least it's still Western, PA! After a feast of the seven fishes with the PID family and a weekend in Chocolatetown with mine, we decided we needed a holiday from our holiday. So we made a reservation at Bedford Springs Resort & Hotel which is just a perfect distance away from home and Pittsburgh.  Smack in the middle!  I'd eaten here before in the Crystal Room on the way home from an epic weekend at Penn State but never stayed the night. I remembered how breathtaking the property and hotel looked and knew I wanted to bring PID here to stay.

We pulled up in million mile per hour winds to a very helpful group of bellmen. Once we were all checked in we decided to head out on a journey to explore the resort.  On the way we checked out the multiple dining options on site and asked around about options in Downtown Bedford. After quite a bit of menu reading, we decided to stay in-house and dine in the 1796 Room -- named for the year that the land was purchased to build the resort!

You don't have to be a hotel guest to dine at 1796 but reservations are definitely encouraged. Even on a Monday we weren't able to be seated until 9 p.m. but we were OK with that. We had a drink at the bar while we waited:
Bedford Lemonade: Bacardi Limon, Lemonade and Cranberry Juice

Bacardi & Diet: a PID staple

So what sold me on this place that couldn't seat me until 9 p.m.? I'll give you a hint:

Two of my favorite appetizers on the same menu?! That is a rare find indeed! Best thing about it is I have a wonderful boyfriend who doesn't mind feeding my vices by feeding his face and sharing. But I'm getting ahead of myself here... we did, in fact, get bread...

I'm gonna go ahead and say this was a garlic herb loaf and a rye loaf.  Now they seemed fresh baked (nice and warm and dough-y), but I wasn't a giant fan of the bread.  It was almost too much flavor before our meal. I needed a palate cleanser just to eat my appetizer. But I wouldn't venture so far to say it was bad.  Just a bit too much for my taste!

One thing I want to mention is something I truly feel strongly about at any establishment. If things aren't up to the standards you feel they should be for the price you're paying for dinner, you need to speak up. Now, our food was wonderful, but our server was....not.  We were greeted by a roaming server who delivered our bread and poured our water (after asking if we'd prefer bottled or sparkling, which we didn't).  He let us know our server would be right with us.  He wasn't. We waited quite a bit until he finally arrived, we placed our entire orders.  We ordered two diet cokes instead of wine tonight since we had a bottle up in the room. Ten minutes later we still had no diet coke. Fifteen and I saw the table seated after us had already drunk half a bottle of their wine, so I tracked down that friendly roaming server again.  He brought our sodas instantly.  See?  It wasn't too hard.  It's very easy to simply speak up without having a harsh, demanding tone to your request.  Sometimes things happen and they may be simple and easy to take care of.  The longer you wait to speak up the angrier you'll get and the harsher your request will be making the server all the less interested in helping you out.

But back to the meal...

The appetizers came next...

The oysters were creamy and perfect.  There was just enough cheese.  The tuna...MMMMMmmmmm good!  It came two ways with a tartare and a lightly seared yellow fin.  There was an amazing smokiness to the yellow fin that I have never tasted before and really thought it made the dish special! This ain't your mama's tuna! The tartare was well seasoned as well though a bit al dente.  Either way I loved it!

Then, although we knew going in to things it was an ambitious decision, we each ordered a bowl of Lobster Bisque because, c'mon, how could we refuse?

The bisque was thick and creamy and buttery and DELICIOUS! And with a few huge chunks of fresh lobster in the bowl, I was anything but disappointed. If I have one complaint (and really it's not much of a complaint) it's that it was very heavy.  This made it taste much better, but we made the mistake of ordering two appetizers, soup and an entree and eating the bread. So even after the soup course we were feeling mighty stuffed! If you think you want the bisque, you can probably forgo appetizers altogether!  It's that, well, appetizing!

Finally it was on to the entrees...

I ordered the Herb-Crusted Halibut and must pat myself on the back for making an excellent choice.  The fish had an excellently flavored crust and flaked perfectly at the touch of a fork. The German potatoes were dark and well cooked, just like I like 'em.  A tad too much spinach for my liking, but the tomato ragout provided a great sweetness to it.

I will say it was a bit over salted...but for me, that was a good thing. I have a salt complex in that I always want too much of it.  So to me, it made me love the meal even more. But for those of you with a less salt-favoring palate, just be warned.

PID had the New York Strip with GIANT steak fries and asparagus.

The steak was cooked absolutely perfectly and held it's natural juices well.  Tasted great!  PID was not a fan of the steak sauce though. "Too sweet." But luckily he didn't even need it thanks to the steak being so great.  The asparagus was shaved which I guess I don't really understand.  Doesn't it lose flavor and substance that way? If anyone can explain the significance of shaving asparagus to me, please do.

Now PID said the fries looked incredibly tasty, but while my meal was slightly over salted, these fries -- which are supposed -- lacked salt altogether. There wasn't a single grain on them and, oddly enough, there was no salt or pepper on the table, either. They were quite bland and tasted like nothing more than sliced cooked potatoes. We considered asking our server for salt, but he had taken ages to come back with the ketchup so we figured why bother. So instead, PID decided to simply dip in the ketchup.  Well that also didn't help.  It was a house-made ketchup.  While I generally appreciate house-made sauces and the like, I have a problem with house-made ketchup.  We are in Western PA people.  Heinz country.  Don't mess with the good thing we've got going here. No need to get fancy. It was wayyyy too sweet (it almost tasted like raspberries?) and watery.  It tasted almost nothing like ketchup.

Restaurant Info:
Address: 2138 Business 220 Bedford, PA15522
Phone: 814-623-8100 (that's the hotel's number -- simply mention you're calling about 1796)
Hours:  5 p.m. - 10 p.m. (dinner only)
Reservations: Strongly Encouraged
Price: $$$$

Cliffs Notes:
Beverages:       2  diet cokes @ $2.50
Appetizers:      Chesapeake Bay Oysters Rockefeller  @ $13
                       Twice the Tuna @ $9
                       2 Lobster Bisques @ $11
Entrees:           Herb Crusted Halibut @ $28

                       Prime NY Strip @ $33
Tax:                 6%
@ $6.07
Total for Two:  $116.07

Overall Opinion:

Though the fries and ketchup didn't exactly make the cut, the rest of the meal was delicious. Combined with the ambiance and rich history within the walls of the restaurant, the meal was quite a wonderful experience altogether. Though it's a good hour and 40 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh 1796 and, really, the entire Omni Bedford Springs Resort make a wonderful romantic evening or weekend getaway.  It's like stepping in to the past and leaving behind the worries of the real world. Don't think I've ever said that about dinner before. A trip here, even just for a meal, might be an excellent Valentine's Day or Anniversary dinner so keep it in mind. My rating is based upon many things, but I must say the fries, ketchup and service made it lose a few points in my book.  That doesn't mean it's still not an excellent place to check out.


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  1. This place deserves 2 stars. Overpriced crap. That's my review, short and sweet (like the terrible ketchup).


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