Inside the Conewago Inn's dining room is a rustic, yet classy vibe.
With snow on the ground on a recent Saturday, it felt like I had slipped away to a ski resort, until cars zoomed past to remind me I was near Manchester.
Part of the dining room features exposed logs and wooden beams. A stone fireplace adds to the rustic feel.
But Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra tunes playing on the speakers, plus a fine dining menu, add to the inn's class.
The restaurant opened in 2002, after Tom and Sharon Roberts bought and renovated the late-1800s building.
"When we bought the place, it really wasn't being operated for four to five years," Tom Roberts said. "It was in horrible disarray."
.The dining room was an apartment – with the ceiling caved in. The porch had totally collapsed, Roberts said.
"When you see the restaurant," he said, "you have no conception of what it was when we bought it."
Within a year, the couple opened the log dining room. Next came new windows at a price of about $30,000 – "it's a big building," Roberts said. They remodeled the kitchen, bar and porch – "it just went on and on," he said.
The last major renovation was about six years ago adding a removable glass wall system to the brick porch, which features a wooden ceiling and tile floors.
That's where I sat – the hostess let me pick and I couldn't resist looking out the large windows – as I ordered a cup of Baked Tomato Soup ($4.99) and Grilled Steak Salad ($13.99).
The tomato soup – creamy with chunks of tomato – was topped with American and provolone cheese, then baked. I downed the cup in fewer than 5 minutes.
But the steak salad, on the other hand, was a heartier option.
The mixed greens were topped with sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms, crumbled blue cheese, sliced avocado and croutons, plus tender steak tips.
The menu is the creation of Executive Chef John Marks, the Roberts' son, who worked previously at The Left Bank.
There are dozens of appetizing options, including filet mignon atop a Marchand de Vin sauce, which takes 48 to 72 hours to make – boiling veal bones with vegetables, Tom Roberts said.
But they are most proud of dishes with fresh picked blue crab meat, which has never been canned or pasteurized, Roberts said.
"It's difficult to source," he said. The restaurant uses 200 to 300 pounds of crab meat a week.
The crab is featured in crab cakes, stuffed shrimp, stuffed lobster tail and stuffed haddock – all meals that would likely not have been eaten in the building when it was first erected as a farmhouse. But today as a restaurant and pub, customers are drawn to Conewago's seafood and its historic charm.
Location: 3480 York Haven Road, Newberry Township
Jess' pick: Baked Tomato Soup, $4.99 for a cup; Grilled Steak Salad, $13.99
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Price range: $4.50, cup of Soup Du Jour; $44.95, Stuffed Trio, including shrimp, haddock and lobster tail stuffed with crab meat
Alcohol: Yes, full bar
Accepts: Cash and credit
Kid's menu: Yes
Details: Call 717-266-1376 or visit conewagoinn.com