My favorite way to celebrate is by enjoying great food with my favorite people. And, for some celebrations, such as my daughter's recent First Communion, a cookie-cutter chain restaurant just won't do.
That's why my family recently headed to the Glen Rock Mill Inn in Glen Rock. The inn is converted from an 1832 saw mill, and it keeps much of the mill's antique charm. For our meal, we were lucky enough to be seated in the Fountain Room, where water fed from a natural stream flows down a stone fireplace.
We sat down for dinner an hour before a harpist was set to play in the room. Online, I signed up for the restaurant's newsletter, so we won't miss it next time. Of course, you can also check the FlipSide listings for upcoming events.
My 8-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son mapped out a plan for what they'd do if they lived in the inn. At the top of the list: Walking the dark rough hewn beams that towered over us.
Thanks to the gorgeous stone walls, my children's conversation seemed to bounce around the room, but once the food arrived, total silence. That is, aside from murmurs of delight and "You've got to try this!"
I had Chicken Chesapeake, a grilled chicken breast with a slice of smoked ham topped with a lump crab cake and sherry cream sauce. It came with seasoned roast potatoes and sautéed green beans with shallots. It was divine; I can see why the crab cake meal is the inn's most popular entrée.
General manager Alyssa Quinteros said that in addition to these favorites, the restaurant's summer menu includes oyster appetizers, a couple new salads and a bone-in ribeye steak.
My husband had a grilled shrimp salad and bowl of Cioppino. The seafood soup has fresh fish, scallops, crab and shrimp in a light, tomato-tinged broth. This summer, Cioppino is an occasional daily special, Quinteros said, with cream of crab being a staple on the menu instead.
Even the children's simple fare - chicken strips and french fries - were infused with elegance. The fries were rough cut with sea salt, perfectly crispy and piping hot. Luckily, the inn has so many interesting features and antiques, it was easy to distract them long enough to snag a few. "Hey, check out these cool glass milk bottles in the window sill!" French fries? What french fries?
By the end of our meal, we were too full to consider dessert. But, after finding out that the inn has its own pastry chef, I'll be sure to save room next time.
"We change our dessert menu seasonally," Quinteros said, "but the two that we absolutely can't take off the dessert menu is the crème brulee and a chocolate ganache layer cake with raspberry coulis."
- Beth Vrabel, for FlipSide
If you go
WHAT: Glen Rock Mill Inn
WHERE: 50 Water St., Glen Rock
CUISINE: Upscale American cuisine, including steak, seafood and chicken entreés. The desserts, pastries and breads are made by the restaurant's pastry chef.
COST: Entreés range from about $14 to $24
TIP: Reservations are welcome.
DID YOU KNOW? The inn also has rooms available for guests and catered events.
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Happy hour is 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays to Fridays. (Among the specials: Half-price bottles of wine on Wednesdays.
DETAILS: Visit www.glenrockmillin.com or call 235-5918.
Keep it going
Looking to extend your night out? Consider these:
Take a sip
THE SPOT: L'Angolo Del Caffee by Mignano Bros.
WHAT IS IT: Just a block or so away from the Glen Rock Mill Inn is a more casual joint, perfect for sipping espresso or cooling off with homemade gelato.
WHERE: 14. Main St., Glen Rock
HOURS: Closed Mondays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays
PRICE: $1.35 to $6.99
FROM THE OWNER: "We have true Italian gelato," said owner Giuseppe Mignano, who just celebrated the café's first anniversary in May. "We have nothing fake."
NEARBY: Right across the street is Mignano Bros. Italian Restaurant, where pizza and pasta are the specialties.
INSIDER TIP: Enjoy snowballs topped with marshmallow, cappuccinos and lattes, Italian ice, or any of the 13 flavors of gelato under an umbrella on one of the café's two decks.
DETAILS: Call 235-8100.
THE SPOT: Heritage Rail Trail County Park
WHAT IS IT: The trail covers 176 picturesque miles. The section that winds around the Glen Rock Mill Inn is my favorite, with plenty of shade from trees and little picnic tables or benches awaiting anyone needing a breather.
HOURS: Dawn until dusk
INSIDER'S TIP: If you park at the Hanover Junction Train Station and stroll or cycle a little more than four miles into Glen Rock, you won't feel the slightest bit of guilt digging into Glen Rock Mill Inn's chocolate ganache cake.
BETTER YET: Follow up dinner with one of York County Parks' Moonlight Bike Rides along the trail. The nine-mile excursion includes storytelling, history and nature study, and refreshments following the ride. Check the York County Parks' website for upcoming Moonlight Bike Rides.
DETAILS: Visit www.yorkcountyparks.org/parkpages/RailTrail.htm or call 840-7440.
Make a sweet stop
THE SPOT: Serenity-Station
WHAT IS IT: Come summer, Serenity-Station is a peaceful place to rest near the Heritage Rail Trail County Park. Take a stop on your stroll or cycling trip to enjoy its restaurant, day spa and bike shop.
WHERE: 11 Church St. (Route 214), Seven Valleys
HOURS: 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
DETAILS: Call 428-9575 or visit www.serenity-station.com.
INSIDER TIP: Serenity-Station's gift shop features one-of-a-kind locally made fare, including handbags, jewelry and artwork.
SWEET TREAT: Fill up at the dairy bar with homemade milkshakes, fruit smoothies, trail mix and sandwiches.