by guest blogger John C. Scott
Several miles up the Delaware, as far north and as far east as you can go and still be footed in Bucks County, rests a proud standing building, welcoming travelers as they enter Pennsylvania from the Jersey side and enticing those leaving one last time with a beckon from its heart, “Have one drink before you say goodbye!” The Inn, sadly watching like a dog wondering if it will ever see its master again calls out to the traveler who may look back at the old stone front porch and ask, “Why not stop here, for one?”
Some claim that the Riegelsville Inn has ghosts. Whether or not the Inn is haunted can be debated over a glass of wine next to the pub fireplace. There is no question, however, that the building, which is situated between the river and the canal, has survived flooding and other disasters for nearly 200 years. Perhaps it is protected by something more complicated to explain than mere luck. Other worldly? Perhaps. Order another round and we’ll talk.
I opened the door for my wife and daughter as we entered the Inn. The solid iron knob was loose and the door fit in its frame like a puzzle piece jammed in place by a frustrated child. The first step inside produced a creak of the wood floor quickly drowned out by the laughter coming from the tavern side to the left. A fire glowed from within. The bartender pulled another pint off the tap without so much as a glance down, filling it perfectly to the top as if she’d pulled a thousand pints the evening before. The hostess stepped forward with three menus and a big smile. There was no question. We were in Bucks County.
We were seated in the dining room by a fireplace large enough to keep a fire going on one side and unlit tinder off to the other. In a room with this much charm, it’s easy to let your mind wander and consider the history; the beams, the floor, the stone walls, the small wooden stair case, each table and their chairs, all so comfortable with each other.
We started with two appetizers to share, calamari and escargot. Thankfully our daughter is an adventurous eater for a 9-year-old. She had tried escargot in the past but didn’t like it. Calamari, on the other hand, she loves and the Riegelsville Inn has the best calamari any of us have eaten – ever. It is lightly fried topped with a mixture of citrus fruit and fennel. It is a brilliant combination, bringing together a unique albeit mild mixture of salty and sweet. The escargot was laid in baby potatoes carved out as a kind of shell, reminding me a bit of soft shell crabs. It is a neat idea and I love when chefs think like this. It’s also the perfect combination for someone who has never tried escargot and would like to.
For the main course, we ordered off the pub menu. The main dinner menu seems to change with the seasons and the chef’s mood. This makes for an excellent excuse to go back again. Our daughter ordered the chicken and dumplings, which was very tasty, a nice selection for a night when snow is in the forecast. My wife ordered the 10 oz. strip loin. She needed a knife to cut it, but barely. It was seasoned with a red wine sauce and not much else. The chef let the meat speak for itself. I ordered the Bolognese. It is a dish I personally love and that night I was in the mood for pasta. Bolognese is a traditional dish that if you venture too far from, can no longer be called Bolognese. The chef again, nailed it. A delicious cream sauce with ham and wine, parmesan cheese and garlic all blended together with other meats poured over a generous bowl of linguini.
When the check came we finished the last of our beers and paid the $110. Considering the experience, the quality of appetizers and dinners, and a few beers, we all agreed the Riegelsville Inn is worth coming back for – soon.
Stepping back out on the porch, the laughter from the tavern side faded and we were left with a glow from the windows and the air filled with the scents of other patrons’ meals. The Riegelsville Inn seemed to stand ever prouder pleased that it had crafted wonderful memories for another family, sure to return.
The Riegelsville Inn
10-12 Delaware Rd
Riegelsville, PA 18077