Spinnerstown Hotel

Spinnerstown Hotel

By Cathy Kiley

I have for the last few editions been given the opportunity to explore restaurants, cafes and pubs outside the culinary “hubs” of the Lehigh Valley. It’s been an enlightening and totally enjoyable experience for me. Too often we get stuck in a rut with regard to where we regularly dine for many reasons, not the least of them being that a bit of a longer drive can be daunting. My husband Tom and I have always been open to new dining experiences and are having fun visiting eateries not normally on our list of regular haunts.

We recently visited the historic Spinnerstown Hotel located outside of Quakertown just a stone’s throw from the Northeast Extension. The Spinner family settled here in the mid-18th century on a 153 acre tract of land that was originally part of a 1000 acre grant (c. 1720) from the estate of William Penn. The hotel was originally opened in 1811 by David Spinner Jr. and has been serving the public ever since. His father, David Spinner Sr., was renown for his Pennsylvania German folk art and both father and son served as community Justices of the Peace. Although the property was leased by various innkeepers throughout the years, Spinner Jr. retained ownership of the inn until his death. It was his son Edwin who first named the establishment “Spinnertown Hotel”. The Dale family purchased the inn in 1959 and now John and Susan Dale are already grooming the fourth generation to carry on this family’s tradition.

The hotel has been beautifully maintained and offers a warm atmosphere with various styles of dining – from a more formal dining room with crisp white linens to a covered deck dining space just perfect on a summer night. Hotel host Matt showed us to a quiet booth accented by stone and wooden walls adjacent to the bustling formal dining area. Delightful servers Michele and Shaun showed up with our menus and highlighted the evening’s specials. Start with one of The Spinnerstown Hotel’s specialty cocktails or choose from over 350 domestic and imported beers, both bottled and on tap. I found their wine list to be most interesting. They have assembled a small but excellent selection of wines at very good prices. Tom and I selected a 2009 Kenwood “Jack London” (Sonoma) Cabernet Sauvignon. It is one of our favorite wines and on the evening we visited, they had a 33 1/3% off special on all bottled wines.  A win/win for us!

The menu is very diverse. Depending on your mood you are able to order light fare, a sandwich or a full entree. We ordered two appetizers. Tom ordered Irish Onion Soup. The caramelized onions, veal stock, Guinness Irish Stout and John Powers Irish Whiskey together created the most delicious soup all slathered in a thick, decadent coating of blended cheeses. The soup was fantastic and with just the right spices (which I could not pry out of the chef) and it was a sweet and savory delight. I simply had to try the grilled venison sausage served with freshly baked pretzels and spicy beer mustard. We both enjoyed the taste and presentation of this dish. The sausage was very lean with a bit of a zip accented by tangy mustard and salty housemade pretzels – a great combination.

The Lite Fare and Appetizer menus also included Pig Wings – that’s pork instead of chicken (who says “pigs don’t fly?”) – served with jalapeno pesto and baja sauce; Ostrich Quesadillas – ground ostrich steak and cheddar; Housemade Mac and Cheese and Corn Fritters with California chili pepper tomato sauce to name a few. A soup of the day in addition to onion and Housemade Manhattan Clam Chowder is always available. There are four interesting salads including an Ahi Tuna (seared rare) Orange Fennel Salad with fried chick peas; Smoked Cheddar Salad – Grilled chicken or skirt steak, Granny Smith apples, spring mix and a smokey cheddar dressing; a classic Caesar Salad and a Blackened Chicken Salad, romaine with red onion, tomato, green pepper with a Parmesan peppercorn dressing.

P.E.I. Mussels prepared to your liking as well as Burgers, Steak and interesting Specialty Sandwiches lead us to the entrees selections. Three steaks with unique preparations are on the menu as well as Short Ribs in a Pale ale beer demi glace. Veal Fricassee – pan seared veal medallions with tomato mushroom fricassee and mashed potatoes sounds inviting as does Veal and Chicken Parmigiana. Seafood selections include a Broiled Seafood Combination, Crab Cakes, Fish and Chips and Seafood Italia – pan seared scallops, jumbo shrimp, fettuccini, bacon, prosciutto, red pepper, green onion and seafood sauce. These are just a few entrees available every night.  All dinner entrees include a fresh green salad in a light citrus vinaigrette and warm artisan rolls.

Tom ordered the Hunter’s Pork – pan-seared pork tenderloin, housemade sweet potato gnocchi, toasted walnuts, sage and brandy sauce with mushrooms.  A Granny Smith Apple slaw is served with this dish which we requested on the side since Tom doesn’t eat mayonnaise. This was a wonderful dish, the pork was beautifully prepared and the accompanying gnocchi was fantastic. Walnuts added a sweet crunchiness to the tasty sauce which all together combined to make a delightful meal. I opted for the evening’s seafood special – Grilled Wahoo. This dense whitefish was grilled to perfection and served with red and green peppers, a mushroom ragout topped with Sriracha spiked sour cream served in a light cucumber broth. This presentation was beautiful and the taste even more perfect. The Sriracha added a splash of heat to the Wahoo and the light cucumber sauce enhanced the mushrooms. It all blended together to create a fabulous entree. I loved this dish and truly appreciated the chef’s talent in the preparation of these meals. Both the pork and the Wahoo were rather heavy but his sauces finely delicate. And the Granny Smith Slaw was fantastic with my entree as well as Tom’s.

I had the opportunity to share my thoughts with Head Chef Ricky Heinrich who stopped by to say hello. Chef Heinrich is a Lehigh Valley native who grew up near Bear Creek. He began his love of cooking with courses at LCCC and honed his culinary skills in various restaurants most notably with his mentor, Shawn Doyle at Savory Grille. Head Chef now for two years, he feels privileged to work with the Dales and a great crew who allow him to explore his artistic abilities. He has developed a unique style with his creations which is difficult given the size of Spinnerstown Hotel’s menu.  But even with the less exotic menu choices, he has put a gourmet spin on them. He is very talented.

We ended our evening with dessert and coffee. Both Tom’s Espresso and my Cappuccino arrived piping hot which is always so appreciated. They were perfect accompaniments to our piece of Chocolate Polenta Torte.  This yummy cake was rich, creamy and oh so pretty and a perfect ending to a fantastic meal!

John and Susan Dale and daughter Anna all stopped by to greet us and they are a dedicated restaurant family. Anna is responsible for the social networking on behalf of the Spinnerstown Hotel. They mentioned upcoming events – beer festivals, live entertainment, etc. all of which can be found at: spinnerstownhotel.com.

Tom and I totally enjoyed our evening at Spinnerstown Hotel. The food was terrific and the service could not have been better. It was friendly yet professional with just enough attention to not be intrusive. The owners are very pleasant and it is obvious that everyone works together to make a busy place run like a well-oiled machine. We are already planning to visit again. We truly had a wonderful time here.

The Spinnerstown Hotel is located at 2195 Spinnerstown Road in Spinnerstown and is easily accessible from both Routes 309 in Quakertown and the Northeast Extension just off the Quakertown exit. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday (The bar stays open to midnight.) Closed Sundays. For reservations, menu options and information on special events, visit the website mentioned above or phone 215.536.7242.

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