Palate Pleasing Natural Wonder
The Fourth of July was filled with an explosion of flavors as my husband and I celebrated the holiday at Panorama at the Peak, a mountain-top restaurant located in the historic spa town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, 90-minutes from the Baltimore/Washington metro area.
On Route 9 west, three picturesque miles from the heart of town where visitors are attracted to the centuries-old custom of ?taking the waters,? as well as to its vibrant ?Arts? community, Panorama at the Peak offers a natural wonder of the culinary kind. Partners Patti Miller and Leslie Hotaling, and Chef Scott Collinash offer fresh regional fare for meat-lovers, vegetarians, vegans, seafood enthusiasts, and foodies like myself who are curious about the source and the creative preparation of their meals. Miller says that some recipes are adapted from a late 1930s? cookbook housed in the restaurant?s kitchen.
Starting with the Chilled Cherry Soup, this ?old-school? appetizer set off an explosive response both surprising and delightful on my taste buds. This primed me for an entr?e called Vegetable Stuffed ?8-ball? Squash, which is a local veggie brimming with organic corn, mushrooms, cranberries, roasted pine nuts, and sweet peppers?topped with a dollop of herbed yogurt and accompanied by brown rice pilaf. The subtle flavors were layered and lovely. My husband opted for the Turkey Croquettes, pan-fried and served over apple-cranberry compote. Because he is willing to share, I was able to attest to the fact that one bite miraculously captured all the best flavors of Thanksgiving dinner. For dessert, we splurged on the Cr?me Brulee, a homemade treat whipped with local farm eggs, torched just before serving. Its delicious blend of caramelized crackle and smooth custard played on our tongues and melted in our mouths. All of this was served-up with an ?almost Heaven? scenic-view of three states and two rivers framed by the restaurant?s large picture-windows.
We are excited about returning to the restaurant on our next trip to Berkeley Springs--he to sample the charbroiled Lamb Hamburger and me to savor either the West Virginia Pan-fried Trout or the Traditional PotRoast. Many of the restaurant?s impressive cuts of meat are certified organic/humane. Most of the dishes, both vegetarian as well as those including filet mignon, NY strip, and lamb shank, are mildly seasoned to allow the natural essence of their farm-fresh flavors to take center stage.
When you dine at Panorama at the Peak, you are only one step removed from the local farmers who tend the land and nourish the livestock. Partners Miller and Hotaling know many of the area?s farmers and handpick from those with the highest standards during regular trips to the farms. Chef Collinash is inspired by childhood experiences helping his parents tend a large vegetable garden, then freezing and canning both theirs and local farmers? produce. He admits that watching Julia Child on PBS as a boy spurred him on, as well. So, for those who appreciate knowing the source, healthfulness, and nutritional value of the food they are enjoying, Panorama at the Peak offers a culinary experience where, as Miller says, the ingredients go from ?the farm, through our kitchen, and to your dining table.?
On frequent jaunts to the farmers? markets, Miller not only carries the shopping list from Chef Collinash, but also the shared philosophy of her partners that ?eating seasonally, eating fresh, and eating from local sources? guarantees the quality and creativity that makes every meal a celebration.