The Temperance House, an historical landmark in Newtown, PA which traces its lineage to 1772, reopened in September 2015 after shutting down nearly two years prior, to the dismay of many. Located in the heart of the shopping district, you can step back in time in their iconic tavern, housing an elegant wooden bar filled with wonderful spirits, international wines and craft beers—all sure to satisfy the thirsty traveler, or local resident 😉 It has had many incarnations, including a span of time when it did not serve any alcohol, hence it’s name.
In addition to the tavern, for a more conventional dinner experience there is a formal dining area. Here, their famous murals depicting Newtown’s early history, still proudly occupy a couple of walls. Two stone fireplaces—one a “walk-in”—remind you that you’re dining in a room full of history, where many have feasted before. If you’re a history buff, this one’s for you.
Patronage was light on a Friday night in late August—with speculation that Newtown folks hightail it to the shore on summer weekends. Friends of ours also agreed that dining out from late July through August is a much easier experience. However that theory was proven false the very next night on a Saturday when we attended another Newtown restaurant that was packed, in fact they were turning people away…
With a choice of seating, we asked for the 4-top by the large fireplace. After situating ourselves, Russ spied a wall-mounted speaker and politely asked if the music could be turned up a scooch. To his credit, the host appeased our request, but the sound only got louder in the tavern—the speaker in the dining room was apparently taking the night off. C’est la vie.
As we pondered the menus, the waitress (the only one working that night) was literally torching the dessert for a couple on the opposite side of the room. Mind you, this was no small kitchen utensil-type torch, but a large full-blown gizmo. It was so loud and noisy that Russ stopped conversing mid-sentence, amazed as he was by what was transpiring. I can’t imagine the end result was a lightly caramelized topping—but the couple dug into it like it was the best thing they ever ate!
Known for its classic comfort food, the new owners have added a twist to many items. For instance, we shared the Salad Wedge which was a whole head of romaine lightly grilled and topped with a smattering of chopped bacon, halved grape tomatoes, large chunks of bleu cheese, and frizzled shallots all layered on a light bed of creamy bleu cheese dressing. WOW, was it good!
Our waitress apologized several times about the wait between courses, but we were enjoying the leisurely pace. With only a few other tables occupied, conversation was pleasant without having to shout. Although after about 30 minutes, one elderly couple, apparently regulars, must have been hard of hearing because we heard every word of the man’s exchange loud and clear, almost to the point of embarrassment.
Drum roll please—our entrees. Still in the seafood frame of mind, I ordered the Baked Flounder served with sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp, jumbo crabmeat and finished in a basil lobster cream sauce served with a side of spinach. I chose roasted potatoes over mashed to round out the meal. (I mean really, serving mashed potatoes in the heat of the summer!? Why do restaurants insist on doing that?)
Russ surprised me when he chose the Temperance Chicken, not his usual fare—you know, duck, lamb, beef, veal… The large chicken cutlets were sautéed in a mild blush sauce with jumbo shrimp and prosciutto and served with sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes. He loved it! Both very satisfied with the quality of the food, we know we will be back in short order.
There is a haunted aspect to The Temp. Printed accounts say that six clairvoyants, dozens of guests, and several employees have reported sightings of two childlike apparitions and unexplained incidents of doors slamming, window shades sliding up, and traveling footsteps throughout the hotel.
For those visitors from out-of-town, The Temperance House lets rooms upstairs for the night since it continues to function as a tavern and inn, just as it did for the soldiers, all those centuries ago.