In early September we traveled to Western Pennsylvania and Western Michigan to visit our mother’s. The entire trip was about eight days and over 1500 miles by car. During those visits, we had the opportunity to try out a few restaurants with some pleasant results.
Stop I: To lay some groundwork, Russ’ mother Mary Cochrane lives in Butler, PA, which was the first stop on our way. It is approximately 340 miles from our Langhorne home and so by the time we get to her house, we’re usually ready for a little relaxation and cocktail hour. And just a few days into our visit, it was Mary’s friend Janet’s birthday–they’ve been friends since 1970–nearly 45 years! To celebrate, Mary made reservations at the Saxonburg Inn for the four of us.
History of the Saxonburg Inn & Hotel:
In 1832, John A. Roebling of Mulhausen Germany purchased Saxonburg with a vision to create a German community in America whose foundation would be agriculture and light manufacturing. Roebling laid out this land with a broad main street running east to west with the parcels fronting on Main Street. The parcels were sold to Mulhausen families who ventured to America to seek fortune.
Roebling, in his Saxonburg shop, developed and patented the process for the manufacture of “wire rope” in 1842. This led to Roebling finding fame and fortune as a designer and builder of suspension bridges such as the “Brooklyn Bridge” throughout the world. The late 1840’s saw Roebling’s cable in demand. To capitalize and access better transportation the “Cable Works” was moved to Trenton, New Jersey…. The new owner, Judy Ferree, purchased and renovated the “Hotel” in July of 2010, bringing back Executive Chef Alan Green.
Along with a fixed menu, the Saxonburg offers an enticing array of daily specials. Here’s a rundown of what we ordered: Janet got the Panko Fried Shrimp, panko breaded, crispy fried jumbo shrimp served with cocktail sauce and a side of french fries; and Mary’s choice was Pork Porterhouse accompanied by a raspberry applesauce (neither entree is pictured.) Lynn’s dinner was the Salmon with Corn Two Ways special with a fabulous corn and jalapeño relish and a side salad of corn and black beans (after all, it was still corn season!)
But perhaps most interesting of all was Russ’ choice from the Specials Menu “City Chicken” which is a unique Pittsburgh-area offering. In fact, it’s not chicken at all—it’s actually skewered veal and pork cubes!! This City Chicken was a new twist on an old recipe. Instead of braising the skewers, this dish was coated in a tempura batter and deep-fried and served over mashed potatoes and gravy n’at. Yinz would love it!
Stop II: Several days later, we arrived in Middleville, Michigan—420 miles further west—at the house of Paul and Kathy (aka Lolly) Harris, on beautiful Payne Lake. We determined beforehand that we would all go out to eat our first evening in, so Lolly made reservations at a local favorite, the Terrace Grille at the Bay Pointe Inn on Gun Lake. To our detriment, a torrential rain and lightening storm rolled in just as we were heading out for dinner, so we did not get waterfront seating, though our high-top table still afforded us a lovely view of the lake—and an unfortunate bridal party outside in a tent.
Dinner choices included the Apricot Chicken with green beans and carrots (Paul); Stuffed Salmon—Boursin stuffed salmon atop wild rice with green beans and a blood orange glaze (Lolly); Filet of Beef —Beef Tenderloin topped with dauphinoise potatoes served with candied carrots, shallot jam, crispy onions and cabernet demi-glace (Russ); and Hawaiian Ahi Tuna atop cilantro lime rice with peach cabbage salad and coconut sauce (Lynn).
Our next two dinners at the Harris’s were grilled whole chicken and those zesty Chipotle Salsa Burgers mentioned in a previous blog. Finally it was time to pack up and start heading East again.
Stop III: Back in Butler, PA for only one night before returning home to Langhorne, Russ, his mother and I took a road trip out to nearby Rachel’s Roadhouse for dinner. While nothing fancy or special, the food was quite good—although the noise level was much too loud, especially for a Monday night!
For starters we all shared the Pork Potstickers with stir-fried vegetables in a Thai chili sauce, and Russ also got a bowl of their very tasty French Onion Soup. For entrees, both Mary and I chose the perfectly done NY Strip Tip Skewer Char Grilled with truffled mushrooms, roasted garlic honeycomb and cipollini onions, caramelized butternut squash and roasted garlic thyme-infused olive oil (Heavenly!); while Russ savored a 12-oz. Center Cut Strip Steak, medium-rare, with onion rings and a side of haricot vert green beans.
Alas, it was time to head back to reality. But thanks to all of our family members for extending their homes and their companionship. We only wish we could spend more time with you!