Landis Store Hotel

By Cathy Kiley

One of the fun aspects of writing about restaurants  is the discovery of new eateries that are off the beaten path. There are many country inns in the Lehigh Valley with extraordinary histories that are situated in remote yet beautiful areas.   One deserving example is the Landis Store Hotel located on Baldy Hill Road outside the picturesque borough of Boyertown. This gorgeous stone structure is well over 200 years old and boasts an amazing history.

Originally established as a hotel in 1800 by John Weller, it was later sold to the Landis family. A portion of the building was later rented out to Samuel Tee as a store and, in1853, Landis set up a post office to become the first postmaster of Landis Store, thus saving local residents a three-mile trek to retrieve their mail. The Landis Store Hotel operated in this fashion until the mid-1900s when Ralph and Helen Hoffman purchased the property, which then consisted of a general store, bar room, post office and hotel, plus a coal and feed business. The Hoffmans established their restaurant business in the fall of 1970 and began building their long-standing family reputation for serving fine food prepared to order. The Hoffmans sold the business in 1975 to their daughter and son-in-law, Janet and Gary Henshaw, who continue to preserve the tradition of this fine old family business.

The exterior of Landis Store Hotel has been completely restored in the last few years to include a stunning outdoor dining patio boasting a fire pit, full outside bar, gas torches, lighted umbrellas, soft music and plenty of accent lighting. The surrounding stone work and landscaping are beautiful and this outdoor area would be perfect for a private party or simply a fun summer night with friends. A highly-polished herringbone bricked entry leads to the historic indoor dining room/bistro which is tastefully decorated in muted colors. I particularly liked the twinkly lights on grape vine and branches hanging throughout the bistro area. Lovely paintings by talented local artists adorn the walls, not only in this area, but in the two adjoining dining rooms as well.

Take a few minutes to walk around and admire not only these, but also the glass work and antique pieces interestingly placed around the room. And consider  spending a few extra minutes studying the quilts created by owner Janet Henshaw. They are gorgeous, especially those made with cast-off neckties.  Last, but certainly not least, all tables were covered in crisp white linens which provided the icing on the cake for my taste in décor.  My friend Nancy, who dined with me that night, said the ambiance felt like what you would expect—comfy and pleasant. And it was.

Our server, Dee Pierson, explained the menu and spoke a bit more about the history before we began our meal with homemade soup.  I selected the clam chowder and Nancy the crab bisque.  The soups were piping hot and  flavorful. We were both very happy that neither soup was overly thickened, allowing us to savor the delicious fish and vegetable flavors in the tasty broth. The soup, along with fresh out-of-the oven crusty rolls, was a perfect first course.

Next, we shared the Roquefort fig brûlée with garlic toast, spicy pecans and apples.  The presentation and taste of this appetizer were unique. The crunchy pecans and sliced apples were perfect accompaniments to the interesting ramekin-served cheese brûlée; while the warm, crispy garlic bread lent an added taste to the overall dish.  We found this appetizer very different and quite a pleasant surprise.

Other appetizers offered that day included sesame seared tuna on seaweed salad, smoked salmon, a traditional Caesar salad and escargot to name a few.  The next time I visit, I plan to try the crispy calamari salad.  Rings of calamari, dredged in rice flour, are flash fried and served on a bed of greens with black and white sesame seeds and Hoisin sauce.  It sounds delicious and quite different from the usual calamari preparations.

On the dinner menu that evening were: almond crusted crab cakes, rack of lamb with a creamy mustard sauce, roast duck with grilled pineapple and orange brandy, soy honey glazed salmon with cilantro noodles, Roquefort-topped filet mignon served over wilted spinach, chicken marsala and an aged New York strip—grilled and served with onions and rosemary balsamic butter.

These were in addition to our choices of seared scallops in shiitake ginger cream and veal piccata. My scallops were  tender and, again, the meal was served  hot.  The shiitakes combined with the ginger cream sauce presented a more delicate flavor than expected.  The sauce did not overpower the scallops, as can happen with cream-based sauces. I liked this dish. Nancy’s veal piccata was  good, as well, but we agreed the scallops were better.  We both prefer our piccata in a lighter demi-glace. This sauce, although  flavorful with lemon and buttery capers, was more thickened than usual—but, again,  satisfying.

All menu selections come with a choice of two sides that include a fresh tossed salad,  delicious coleslaw, baked potato or broccoli. Portions are extremely generous, and I found it  interesting that they also offer a “Small Plates” menu. Landis Store Hotel’s menu changes on a daily basis but that evening, their small plates included macaroni & cheese, eggplant parmesan and sautéed chicken livers with mushrooms and garlic. So, if you are not in the mood for a full dinner and would prefer some wine and a few appetizers or tapas, Landis Store Hotel fits the bill perfectly.

Whatever your dining desire, be sure to top off your meal with one (or more) of Landis Store Hotel’s homemade desserts.  The dessert choices vary from day to day but, should it be on the menu when you visit, be sure to try the lemon tart with fresh fruit in an almond crust.  It is deliciously sinful and, together with a steaming cappuccino, a wonderful finale.  If you prefer ice cream, Nancy and I can attest that the caramel ice cream is great and a wonderful pairing with the lemon tart.

Janet Henshaw’s sister, Marilyn Flannery, is Landis Store Hotel’s Executive Chef. A world traveler, Flannery is self-taught and has honed her skills here for over 20 years. She strives to use the finest seasonal, local ingredients and will be happy to accommodate special dietary requests.  All you need do is ask. A third sister, Nancy Ream, is Sous Chef and together with Flannery they reign over a very busy and immaculate kitchen. Stop by and say a quick “hello” to them when you visit.

We truly were impressed with the  professional and friendly service at The Landis Store Hotel. The ambiance is charming and the fact that the surroundings are well-appointed and extremely clean makes this restaurant even more appealing.  The added plus of a beautiful al fresco dining spot makes Landis Store Hotel an attractive destination for outdoor dining. We plan on visiting again.

The Landis Store Hotel is currently serving dinner Wednesday through Saturday beginning at 4:00 PM. Although reservations are not necessary, I would suggest you call ahead (610-845-2324) if you are traveling a distance as their hours of operation are likely to change in the warm summer months. You may also visit: for menu, directions and other information.

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram