The Crystal Room at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort is one of the oldest restaurants in the United States, which makes sense seeing as how the hotel has been in operation for more than 200 years. Although we had the option of dining at the Crystal Room or in the resort’s other formal restaurant, the 1796 Steak and Chop House, I went with the former as it seemed like the more elegant and timeless choice.
The restaurant’s decor was in early 20th century fashion featuring tones and shades I’ve seen at many “robber baron” mansions-the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina and the Frick Mansion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The time period of the look was reaffirmed with the cascade of photographs that graced the walls of the restaurant, all black and white, all of individuals from the early 1900s judging by their dress and appearance who at one time stayed at the resort. As fancy as our meal was, I can only imagine how much more so it was for guests that dined at the Crystal Room in the early 1900s, when 10 course meals were de rigueur.
Diners at the Crystal Room have the option of choosing between a la carte or a hot buffet for their entree selection. Both options were $45. Regardless of which you select, your meal begins with a cold buffet featuring seasonal salads, appetizers, Pennsylvania cheeses, bread and rolls and a charcuterie board, along with fresh assorted antipasti. Sea scallops, cocktail shrimp and three types of bruschetta (the traditional tomato and basil, one with chicken salad, one with shrimp salad) made up the appetizer selections. Not only were there multiple types of breads (Italian, baguette, biscuits) there were also multiple types of butter. My favorites were the balsamic bread and cinnamon butter. The charcuterie board and cheese selections weren’t too extensive but included prosciutto and salami and three types of cheeses (my favorite was the Pennsylvania gruyere).
There are five entrees to choose from (Grilled Filet Mignon, Pecan Crusted Laurel Hills Farm Trout, Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi, Roasted White Oak Farms Half Chicken, and a Brined Pork Chop). I ordered the trout as I don’t believe I had ever eaten it before. I asked our waitress which one she recommended more, either the trout or the pork chop, and judging by the indecisive look on her face as in she couldn’t pick just one, I went with the trout. It came with brandied baby carrots, lavender scented wild rice and was topped with Lancaster bacon-balsamic butter. Some people are apprehensive about eating fish, mainly because some types have such a distinct taste to them. However, the way the trout was prepared, without that typically “fishy” taste to it (between the butter and the pecans, the taste was definitely masked). The rice was good, although I didn’t really detect a lavender scent to it. (Perhaps I am being too snobby here, having been to a lavender farm on Maui where I feasted on lavender scones and lavender potato chips.) I’m not sure if I would order the trout again, but I am proud to have tried yet another fish, especially one that is native to Pennsylvania.
It should come as no surprise (especially if you’ve read some of my past restaurant reviews) but D went with the filet mignon. The entree came with a local mushroom-onion ragout, smoked Gouda au gratin potatoes, roasted broccolini (a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and long, thin stalks) and topped with roasted garlic butter. He enjoyed his steak but really raved about the au gratin potatoes; personally I think Gouda cheese will make anything praiseworthy.
The best part was probably the dessert buffet, which on the menu is appropriately labeled “the grand finale.” Its piece de resistance is its signature bread pudding station, which on the night we dined featured was a chocolate orange bread version. Although there was the option of topping it with items such as coconut flakes and other sugary confections, I ate it as it was and it was still excellent. I only had a little so that I could sample a bit of everything-coconut cake, a miniature fruit tart, and a cupcake with raspberry flavored frosting. D also sampled some of the apple pie. Unfortunately there was still too much and we didn’t get to try the New York cheesecake, a chocolate cake, a lemon blueberry mousse, or something else that appeared to be a fruit dessert cocktail, but we never found out what it actually was.
It was an extremely pricey meal and yet well worth a splurge for how good it was overall.