Ye Olde Spring Valley Tavern
The Spring Valley Inn was one of the popular go-to places when we first moved to the Lehigh Valley but it had been many years since I visited what is now called Ye Olde Spring Valley Tavern. Owners Warren and Donna Walters as well as Frank and Kim McCartney reopened the tavern in 2014, changing the name but maintaining much of the old charm. The outside of the stone building has a new paint job and the cheery dining room is quaint with red accents, white linens and beautifully refinished original wooden floors. This place has a lot of character and is located just off the beaten path in Saucon Valley.
The tavern is a literal trout-fest.
As we walked through the outdoor dining spots on our way inside, I stopped to listen to the trout jumping in the fish ladder along the walkway. The trout were recently moved from their larger abode because a few hungry Blue Herons had discovered a free meal – a situation soon to be rectified by the clever placement of a protective covering atop the freshly stocked, spring-fed pond. The spring emerges from below the building and maintains a constant 51 degree temperature. This is perfect for the trout which continue to be a mainstay on the menu here.
The building that houses Ye Olde Spring Valley Tavern has been around since about 1806 and because it was very secluded, it was a popular joint during prohibition.
Nowadays, locals flock to the bar to enjoy tasty food and good company in a friendly fun spot. When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived above a bar called The Crystal Inn located in Old Bridge, New Jersey. I will never forget the way that bar smelled. It held a wonderful aroma of whiskey, root beer, leather and beer. For some reason, my senses perked up when I entered the bar here. It smelled just like grandma’s, minus the cornmeal on the shuffleboard. It echoed of good times with many taps drained dry by friendly revelers.
Brittany and Sam were our servers in the dining room. We ordered a bottle of Line 39 Pinot Noir from their moderately priced wine list. We were very pleased with this choice of wine which was served at a perfect temperature. We started with a couple of appetizers. I ordered the Crab Stuffed Mushrooms which were buttery and very good while Tom enjoyed very fresh Smoked Trout served with sliced onions and mushrooms with a Horseradish Sauce (served on the side by request). Both appetizers were very generous and tasty starters.
Oyster Stew and French Onion Soups are on the menu in addition to five salads including an interesting Trio Kale Salad; a traditional Caesar; a Spinach or Caprese Salad. Top any salad with grilled chicken, shrimp, crab or smoked trout for a small up-charge. Other appetizers include Bacon wrapped scallops, clams casino, shrimp cocktail or a sampler.
Kim McCartney stopped by our table to chat and said that flowers and herbs were soon to be planted surrounding the al fresco dining gazebo and water fountains which will be up and running just in time for the warmer weather. She also noted that one of the original chefs from the Spring Valley Inn, Bobby Martin, returned to the kitchen after completion of lengthy renovations. She also noted that popular Lehigh Valley magician Joe Keppel stops by the Tavern to entertain on Saturday nights making it a perfect destination to bring the kids along for dinner.
Since Ye Olde Spring Valley Tavern boasts a trout pond, we of course opted for fresh trout which the kitchen will prepare anyway you like it – sauteed or broiled. You may enjoy it simply with lemon or opt for the fish to be topped with Brie and fresh herbs; stuffed with crabmeat; Meuniere with mushrooms, lemon and dry white wine; Amandine with butter and almonds; trout with shrimp or trout and filet mignon. The tavern is a literal trout-fest. Tom enjoyed his Trout Amandine and my Trout Meuniere was delicious. The trout could not be fresher and the steamed asparagus and carrots sides were al dente and perfect with the fish.
Not in the mood for trout? Shrimp, scallops, crab cakes and broiled haddock are all on the menu. A broiled seafood combo, lobster tail or surf and turf may whet your whistle while landlubbers will find interesting meat choices including four veal preparations, steak and chicken. There is definitely something for everyone on the dinner menu.
The lighter tavern and luncheon menu holds all of your favorite fun foods including potato skins, wings, quesadillas, nachos and pierogies along with hand-cut fries. Create your own pizza or enjoy one of their many choices of club sandwiches and wraps or hot sandwiches including Beef or Chicken Cheesesteaks; Spring Valley Crab cake, Burger, Reuben or French Dip. The bar was packed with people eating tavern choices while catching up on basketball games during March Madness.
Most desserts are made in-house and those available that night were Red Velvet Cake, Tiramisu, Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, Apple or Cherry Pie which Tom and I decided to try. The pie was served with whipped cream (on the side as requested) and was a nice ending, along with a cup of fresh, hot coffee.
Ye Ole Spring Valley Tavern is located at 1355 Station Avenue, Bethlehem. The Tavern is open everyday. Log on to: yeoldesvt.com for hours of operation and complete menu information. Take a night and revisit one of the older eateries in the Lehigh Valley. Take a step back in time and enjoy a bit of nostalgia – along with a very fresh trout!
5 Great-Tasting Freshwater Fish
Panfish encompasses several different types of fish, including Sunnys, Crappies, and Bluegills. These fish are usually the easiest fish in a pond to catch, and are pretty tasty as well. You can find them by the banks of the pond, near docks, and by fallen trees. Also look for circular depressions in the sand, this sometimes indicates fish beds.
To clean panfish, remove the scales by sliding a knife against the scales and flicking them off of the fish. Then, by running a knife down the back and side of the fish, slice a small piece off. This creates a small, white, flaky and very sweet bite-sized fillet.
Trout, caught just hours before eating is often said to be the best fish meal you will ever have. Usually found in streams or larger ponds and lakes, trout are not too difficult to catch. Look for pools and ripples behind rocks in rivers. This is where trout will be waiting for your tasty worm to float by.
Trout flesh is darker and not too fishy tasting. It can be filleted, or gutted and cooked whole. Once all the guts have been removed and cavity washed, the whole trout can be cooked, skin on or off.
Fishing for catfish is fun. They fight hard, are plentiful and taste great on the dinner table. Catfish are often willing biters, too, and can be readily caught from the bank as well as from a boat using a simple bait rig. Catfish can thrive in many water systems, from shallow, warm ponds to fast rivers.
Their meat is not as flaky or white as some others but has very little fishy taste. Catfish are high in protein, low in fat and a good source of essential vitamins and minerals so try to avoid frying it, try broiling instead.
The best way to catch bass is to beat it at its own game of hide and seek. Bass love to hide in obvious places, such as docks, structures and other obstacles in the water, so try there first. Or, check out locations where the water or the plants change, for example, where rocks meet sand.
Most bass fishermen insist on releasing all their catch, but bass are tasty and easy to fillet. All bass are not created equal, some variety have little fishy flavor while others have a strong fishy taste. But whichever type you prepare, don’t overcook, and be careful to remove every bit of skin, which can give it a strong fishy contamination.
Walleye are a bit tougher to catch, but the taste is worth the challenge. Usually found dwelling at the bottom of lakes and streams, walleye can be best caught in the early morning and late evening hours.
A real freshwater delicacy, walleye are tasty and easy to filet. Their meat is white and sweet, with little fishy flavor and they are cooked in a wide variety of ways.