I love the character in historic inns and hotels, the places that have been serving food and drinks since the roads were dirt and transportation was four-legged.
Every small town and village had one, and many of them are still going. The Stony Run Inn, subject of last week’s blog, is one of those places.
This week, we paid a visit to another historic hotel, one that has been at the heart of Bernville since 1869.
That’s when the Eagle Hotel opened along Main Street in the little borough (now the only borough) in northwestern Berks County.
Nearly 150 years later, it’s still a gathering place where locals grab drinks and dinner six nights a week (closed on Sundays). Though I’m sure patrons in the late 19th century weren’t ordering from a Caribbean-inspired menu like the hotel offers today.
There is no separation between restaurant and barroom. The single dining room features a large center bar with tables lining the perimeter. The sound of crashing billiards balls echoed out of the back room.
The menu is mostly bar food, but there is a small selection of entrees (plus a few weekly specials). And everything is reasonably priced. Only two menu items cost more than $20, the full rack of ribs and my choice, the Cuban coffee crusted flat iron steak.
Served with plantains and a side of rice and beans, the steak was buried beneath a mound of onions and peppers.
It certainly wasn’t the largest steak that I have ever had, but it was flavorful. I’m not a coffee drinker, but the coffee crust was subtle while adding a crisp char to the outside. I love sautéed onions and roasted peppers so I had no qualms about digging in.
The rice and beans were good, but nothing compared to the more authentic Latin American restaurants that you find closer to the city. And there was certainly nothing to complain about with the portion size.
I’m a sucker for plantains so I was going to love them no matter what.
My meal was also served with a starter salad and roll. While the salad was nothing to speak of (spring mix with onions, cherry tomatoes, cheese and a cup of dressing), the roll was very enjoyable – soft and buttery.
Julie wasn’t quite hungry enough for the full rack of ribs, but she thought she could handle the half rack.
The ribs were also given a little twist with chipotle barbecue sauce and diced mango on top. It was a little disappointing to find the mango was not reduced into the sauce. Ribs are not conducive to toppings so most of the mango fell off with every bone that was picked out. There was also just a little kick from the chipotle, but not too much.
We both enjoyed the fries. They’re the fresh-cut, skin-on kind. That’s the way I love my fries.
The meal was also served with baked beans and slaw. The beans were OK, but nothing special. And she wasn’t a fan of the slaw which she found to be all cabbage and little slaw.
My brother and sister-in-law were along for the visit, and the four of us all had good meals. It wasn’t remarkable, but it was certainly quality bar food. For our four meals (plus drinks – one beer, one sangria and one iced tea), it came to $86 so right around $20 per person for what were some hefty portions on everything.
The Eagle Hotel is your typical local bar and restaurant. The emphasis is clearly on the bar, but you can still enjoy a good, hearty meal, just as people have been doing for a century-and-a-half.
Bernville Eagle Hotel
301 N. Main St
Bernville, PA 19506