Belvedere Inn Short Ribs

Road Trip: The Belvedere Inn

Belvedere Inn

In the first five years of Berks County Eats, we have taken 19 road trips to select restaurants around Pennsylvania – some near, some far; some good, some bad – but all of them notable.

We’ve done less road trips recently – only two in 2018 – but there are a select number of noteworthy restaurants still worth traveling for and writing about.

One of those is Lancaster’s Belvedere Inn.

Belvedere Inn

The Belvedere was recently ranked as one of the Top 100 most romantic restaurants in the country by users of OpenTable so it seemed like the perfect place for a pre-Valentine’s Day dinner.

Among the growing downtown dining scene in downtown Lancaster, The Belvedere is the elder statesman. The Victorian-style mansion was converted to a restaurant in 1998, long before the city’s recent restaurant Renaissance.

The restaurant sits on the corner of Queen and Lemon Streets, and while it doesn’t offer private off-street parking, there’s a public garage right behind the restaurant (we spent $4 to park).

Belvedere Inn

Candlelight and mirrors add glow to the dining areas. Highlights of the dining room – really two or three rooms that have been opened up to create a space that spans the depth of the building – include a stunning chandelier, a large fireplace and the leopard print carpet (still trying to understand that one).

The Belvedere’s menu is fitting of a romantic restaurant: higher end entrees with a range of appetizers and desserts and a robust drink list.

Belvedere Inn Roasted Vanilla Pear

As we were celebrating, Julie ordered a roasted vanilla pear. The mixed drink was made with vanilla vodka, St. Germaine, roasted pear puree, pineapple and citrus soda with a ring of sugar around the glass for even more sweetness, which is what she was looking for.

I had been to the Belvedere once for a business meeting so I knew all about their famous grilled Caesar salad, and I was thrilled to see that they had a petite version on the dinner menu so we could both order it as an appetizer.

Belvedere Inn Grilled Caesar

Caesar salads are always enjoyable, but the Belvedere’s grilled Caesar is on another level. First, grilling the Romaine just adds such a different feel to it and somehow enhances the flavor that’s already there. The dressing is excellent, and it’s topped with plenty of croutons and cheese.

On my first visit six months ago, I had the full version as a lunch entree (with grilled chicken). I thought I had overhyped it for Julie, but she was not disappointed. It’s an excellent start to a meal – or a meal in and of itself.

Belvedere Inn Short Ribs

Getting it as an appetizer allowed us to try some of their other entrees. I decided on the four-hour braised short ribs, served with red wine demi, green beans and three cheese macaroni gratin.

The meat was excellent with enough fat to make it flavorful but not too much to take away from the meat. The demi was semi-sweet and really helped highlight the flavors of the meat. It was very well done and very satisfying.

I enjoyed the macaroni gratin – a grown-up mac and cheese with a flavorful crust on top. The green beans were fine and made better by the fact that they were also sitting in the red wine demi. Overall, I was very happy with my choice.

Belvedere Inn Stuffed Lobster Tail

Julie was also happy with her decision to order the crab-stuffed lobster tail, a special of the day.

It was one of the best lobsters she has ever had. The crab and lobster were both very good and neither overpowered the other. And she was thrilled to not find any crab shell in the filling.

It was served with fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Both were simple but enjoyable.

Belvedere Inn Chocolate Mousse

As is usually the case when we enjoy a romantic night out, we couldn’t leave without sharing dessert. All of the options sounded decadent, but we decided on the layered chocolate mousse.

It featured chocolate mousse, vanilla cake, Grand Marnier, orange zest and raspberries. It was sweet and satisfying. The mousse was chilled, making it much denser and more solid. The cake was nice, but my favorite part were the bites with raspberry. The fresh berries just added a nice flavor note.

Belvedere Inn Rolls

The meal was close to perfect. The only real hiccup was that the assistant server didn’t bring the rolls and butter around until after our entrees. Honestly, though, we could have done without the rolls. It’s not that they weren’t good, but we had more than enough food with what we had ordered.

On special occasions like Valentine’s Day, we always expect to spend more than we would for almost any other meal, and that was the case here. Our final total was $120, and while we won’t go out of our way to spend that on a meal, we don’t mind it once or twice a year.

Between the food and ambiance, it is easy to see how a restaurant like the Belvedere could make it onto anyone’s list of most romantic restaurants.

After our visit, it certainly makes our list.

BCE Rating
Food: Excellent
Ambiance: Excellent
Service: Very Good
Price: Expensive

The Belvedere Inn
402 N. Queen St
Lancaster, PA 17603

Dessert Finer Dining Lunch & Dinner Reviews
Customer ordering at a counter with a sign that says Sunrise Grille

PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing

Sunrise Grille

Editor’s Note: The Sunrise Grille at the PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing is now closed. The stand closed temporarily during COVID. The in March 2021, it was announced that the stand would not reopen. Fisher’s BBQ and other stands continue to operate as normal.

There are hundreds of farmers markets across the state of Pennsylvania, with dozens of them spread throughout Berks County.

From roadside stands to indoor/outdoor markets with 100s of vendors, all of these markets deliver fresh produce, locally raised meats and delicious baked goods.

Farmers markets support area farm families, boost the local economy and help customers find healthy ingredients for home-cooked meals.

They are also a great place to get amazing meals.

I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of Berks County’s best farmers markets. Now in its third year, the PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing only has 14 stands, but every one of them is different.

There’s a stand for seafood, one for bulk foods, another for soft pretzels and separate stands for beef, poultry, seafood, deli meats and organics. The same is true for their dine-in options: the Sunrise Grill and Fisher’s BBQ.

The two stands are set directly across from each other at the back of the market. Fisher’s sits in the far-right corner. Beef brisket, ribs and barbecued chicken swelter under the heat lamps in the display case.

Everything is hot and ready-to-serve. Catch the stand at the wrong time though, and you may need to wait a while. Friday nights are all-you-can-eat nights, and the line backs up quickly.

IMG_2959The best entree on the menu has to be the pulled pork. It’s cliché, but the meat really is tender and juicy. Instead of loading the meat up with barbecue sauce, I mix it with a side of green beans, which are mixed with a little bit of sauce and bacon. The beans are delicious, and the juice helps bring out more flavor in the pork.

Every platter at Fisher’s comes with two sides so for your second, I recommend the carrots. The carrots have a crispy outer coating, with charred black edges, but inside they are a beautiful vibrant orange and sweet as honey. And if that’s not sweet enough for you, grab a cup of fresh-brewed sweet tea to complete your meal.

Across the aisle, the Sunrise Grill serves up some great breakfast options like French toast, omelets and pancakes, but I love it for lunch.

Sunrise Grille 3Sunrise offers some great cold and hot sub options for lunch and dinner. They’re sausage sandwiches are excellent (especially if you get the pepper and onion sausage) and come with a “barbecue” sauce, a thin sauce with a taste closer to ketchup than barbecue, but perfect for the sandwich.

IMG_1372But my favorite meal at Sunrise Grill is their hot roast beef. The meat is so tender, more like pot roast than the slabs of roast beef you get at some diners, and it is piled high on top of a Kaiser roll.

I rarely get something at Sunrise Grill without a side of fries. They are fresh cut, not frozen fast food fries. For me, these are the kind of fries that just taste that much better with a spritz of vinegar.

Like every farmers market, the prices at these two stands are very reasonable. Platters at Fisher’s range between $8-12, and a sandwich, fries and drink at Sunrise Grill comes in right around the $10 mark.

The biggest downside to the market, and any farmers market for that matter, is the hours. The market is only open three days a week, Thursdays through Saturdays, and only have evening hours on Friday nights. If you have a supersized appetite, Friday night is the best time to go because Fisher’s offers some great all-you-can-eat specials for the price of a single meal.

BCE Rating – Fisher’s BBQ
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Good
Price: Very Reasonable

BCE Rating – Sunrise Grille
Food: Good
Service: Fair
Ambiance: Good
Price: Reasonable

PA Dutch Farmer’s Market of Wyomissing
845 Woodland Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Barbecue Diners Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner Reviews