As a history geek, historic looking structures are always on my radar and the Jean Bonnet Tavern is no exception. Located on US Highway 30 at the junction of Pennsylvania Route 31 on the outskirts of Bedford, the land the tavern sits on was acquired in 1762, and in 1779 the land and building were purchased by Jean Bonnet. It opened as an inn and served as a gathering place by protesting local farmers during the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion. The moment we stepped inside, it was as if we had stepped back in time. The smell was definitely reminiscent of an extremely old edifice and lighting was minimal; upon entering it took my eyes a couple of moments to adjust to the extreme dimness and upon being seated, our waitress came over and lit a tapered candle.
We decided to stop at the tavern for lunch before heading home to Pittsburgh following our great mini getaway at the Omni Bedford Springs. We arrived shortly after they had opened, so we definitely beat the rush. The menu seems to be offered all day so in addition to appetizer selections, diners could also choose from sandwiches, and entrees which were considerably more expensive (some options included Delmonico steak, apricot chicken, crab cakes and oven roasted butternut squash). As it was just after 11:30 in the morning, we went the lighter route and both ordered sandwiches along with hand cut fries (sweet potato fries are also available). We did hear our waitress saying to another table that they do accept reservations, which are highly recommended when dining there on a Saturday night.
I ordered the turkey club croissant which consisted of an extremely generous amount of thinly sliced smoke turkey, topped with bacon and Swiss cheese and served on a heated croissant for $8. As a side, I ordered the handcut fries for $2. The fries were the only weak link of the meal; instead of being fried and crispy, they tasted more like they had been cut and then cooked in some oil on the stove top. I probably would be interested in trying the sweet potato fries next time for a comparison.
D ordered the Jean Bonnet french dip sandwich (a favorite of his) which consisted of thinly sliced, slow roasted prime rib on a French bread roll topped with carmelized onions and melted provolone cheese and served with au jus for $11. He naturally ate all of his and said it was quite good.
There were a variety of dessert selections which were made better by the fact that they were available on a tray to see prior to ordering. As our waitress joked to us, she said it was “easier luring in diners” that way by showing the actual item as opposed to ordering from a printed menu. Since it was St. Patrick’s Day we decided to go with a special dessert they were offering, which was a fudge brownie topped with mint chocolate ice cream ($5). For how rich it sounded, it really wasn’t too heavy. Other selections that seem to always be on the menu are oatmeal pie, peanut butter pie, and pecan pie. (Sorry for the quality of the photo, mint chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream doesn’t make for the most picture perfect photo.)
Our waitress was extremely amicable and mindful of us our entire meal, which is always nice since sometimes wait staff tend to disappear once you’ve gotten your food. A woman I assumed to be one of the owners was actually kind enough to give me a new placemat which listed the history of the tavern on it after she saw me salvaging one of ours from our meal.
While not too extensive in terms of menu samplings, our experience at the Jean Bonnet Tavern was still a great one and we look forward to dining there again sometime in the future.
Note: The tavern also serves as a bed and breakfast; there are four rooms, each with its own private bathroom. There is also a store on the grounds that sells books on local history, locally made candles, and Jean Bonnet Tavern mementos.