McCoole's at the Historic Red Lion Inn

By Cathy Kiley
Photo by Ryan Hulvat

I have been looking for a great place to meet in the Quakertown area ever since my daughter and her family moved to the Philadelphia suburbs last year. Well, I finally found a restaurant that fits the bill. Not only does McCoole’s present an appealing ambience but it offers an eclectic menu of wonderfully prepared food to make everyone in your party happy.

Original owner Walter McCoole opened this pub under the name of McCoole’s Tavern during the Revolutionary War in 1750. The Fries Rebellion was organized at this site in 1799 against the arrest of those protesting a planned tax to be used to fund a war with France. Although the organizers were later released, they were subsequently declared traitors by Alexander Hamilton, charged with treason and sentenced to hang before President John Adams stepped in and pardoned the prisoners. This is just one of many interesting stories associated with McCoole’s. Back in the day, even Lassie enjoyed eating big juicy steaks off the Inn’s wood floors. As expected, there are plenty of ghost stories given this building’s rich history and I was told there are ongoing bonafide sightings.

McCoole’s has undergone many expansions over the years but still maintains a rustically quaint feel that is very inviting. Owner Jan Hench said that their goal at McCoole’s is to strive to present a warm atmosphere with an affordable menu that provides a fun experience for all patrons. They have certainly been very successful.

We were greeted with a big smile by the inn’s hostess Taylor and she pointed out interesting decor while she showed us to our table. We sat in the lovely dining room complete with roaring fireplaces, pressed tin ceilings, perfect lighting, interesting artwork and tasteful memorabilia. Soft 70s and 80s music played in the background that I really enjoyed.

Our server Renee was excellent as was Torie who stepped in to assist her. McCoole’s menu lists an interesting selection of appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, sandwiches and full dinner entrees including St. Luke’s Heart Smart and Gluten free options. My husband Tom and I decided to share a McCoole’s Salad – a delicious presentation of sun-dried cherries, candied pecans, dried apple slices and crumbled gorgonzola atop a bed of fresh seasonal greens with a house vinaigrette. We both enjoyed this crisp refreshing starter. The plump cherries were a perfect compliment to the apples and pecans – simply a wonderful salad. A Classic Caesar as well as a fresh Garden Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage and croutons with a choice of seven dressings is on the menu and you may top any of the above with grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp or seared tuna. The warm Pecan Crusted Chicken and Spinach Salad as well as the Beef and Tomato Salad are also on our list to try during future visits.

Next we shared a Andouille sausage, grilled chicken, Monterey Jack, Cheddar and barbeque sauce individual flatbread pizza. We are so glad we tried this pizza. The Andouille added a wonderful zip to a great combination of flavors on a very thin crust. We loved it.

Other appetizers include Vegetable Spring Rolls served with soy-ginger sauce; famous McCoole’s Wings with a choice of three sauces; Drunkin’ Clams – littlenecks simmered in white wine, garlic, butter, oregano and roasted peppers with plenty of bread for dipping; Chicken Fingers (great for the kids) and Pig’s Wings – roasted pork on the shank with barbeque sauce to name a few. Soup offerings were Lobster Bisque and Heart Healthy Tomato Bisque as well as a soup du jour which when we visited was Cream of Mushroom.

Sandwiches abound here including a large selection of interesting wraps and Panini pressed sandwiches beside the always popular Reuben, Steak Melt on French Bread and Turkey Club. Grilled Black Angus Burgers, Grilled Chicken Breasts, Lean Bison Burgers or Roasted Portabellas are prepared with your choice of unique toppings and served on a fresh Kaiser Roll.

And the list goes on and on. There are interesting Pasta selections all served with a garden salad or soup du jour and comfort foods to warm your soul and stomach such as Mac and Cheese, Meatloaf or Fish and Chips.

I decided on a six-ounce Boursin and Bacon Roasted Portabella served on a warmed Kaiser. Oh my goodness. The fresh mushroom was transformed into a decadent sandwich of rich, creamy garlic herb cheese with smoked bacon and green onions. I requested a side of McCoole’s delicious hand-cut fries turning this sandwich into a very filling meal. I loved the taste of the Boursin and Bacon with the mushroom. Quite simply, I would never think to prepare this at home with such unique ingredients. What a wonderful treat – but entirely too much food. However, order up, taste and enjoy. They have take-home boxes!

Tom chose from the entree menu a wonderful meal of Tournedos Au Cognac–sliced Choice Tenderloin, pan-seared in butter with a Cognac demi-glace topped with hickory-smoked mushrooms.  This meal was absolutely delicious. The tenderloins were tender and prepared to medium rare as Tom requested. The rich sauce finished with Cognac was perfect with the delicious steak. We both love the taste of this dish.

There are other beef entrees including Prime Rib au jus and a ten ounce Choice Blackened Rib-Eye rubbed with Creole Spices served au jus. In the mood for seafood? Choose from a half-pound of broiled scallops in sherry butter; a Petite Broiled Seafood Combination or McCoole’s Signature Crab Cakes. All entrees come with a garden salad or soup du jour and a choice of two sides.

Executive Chef Todd Chiaradia has over 30 years of experience and he, along with Kitchen Manager Daniel Orr, oversee a bustling staff keeping up with demands of this diverse menu.

We each sipped a beer with our meals but noted that McCoole’s has a modest but very well-priced wine list along with specialty drinks and many beer selections, both bottled and on tap. They host Happy Hours every day including late night hours on Friday and Saturday with discounted drinks and appetizers in the beautiful old pub bar.

Desserts include homemade New York Style Cheesecake with graham cracker crust; Warm Bavarian Apple Torte with cinnamon caramel swirl ice cream, and Creme Caramel. I could not eat another bite but since I am “forced” to always sample a dessert, I took a piece of Dark Chocolate Layer Cake home with me to enjoy later.  It was a very decadent dark chocolate cake filled with creamy fudge. Delish – I’m glad I took it home!

We sipped coffee while we chatted with Jan Hench about upcoming events at McCoole’s, including live music on weekends, and productions at the adjacent McCoole’s Arts and Events Place that hosts local theater groups and is also available for private parties and weddings.

We really enjoyed McCoole’s and plan to visit again soon. It offers an interesting menu for both lunch and dinner that will suit everyone’s wallet and taste in a distinctive setting with friendly professional service. Try it. It’s a fun place!

McCoole’s at The Historic Red Lion Inn is located at the corners of Main and Broad Streets in Quakertown. Hours are Tuesday to Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m..  Call 215.538.1776 or visit for reservations, menus and information regarding upcoming events.

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