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November 12, 2009

The Thanksgiving solution



This is our first Thanksgiving since my mother-in-law died, so we decided to do something a little different this year. The question was what.

Then my daughter announced she was off meat and poultry, which made cooking a turkey dinner for the three of us even more unappealing.

On an impulse, I made a reservation at a local restaurant. (I'll tell you more about it after our meal.)

We also decided it would be a good thing to take a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater Friday morning. That would mean driving to Pennsylvania after dinner and staying in a motel; the tour starts at 8:30 a.m. and it's a four-hour drive. ...

I was quite pleased with myself for having come up with a plan that all three of us could agree on until last night, when I realized I didn't want to leave work and drive home because it was dark at 5 p.m.

Let's say we eat Thanksgiving dinner at 1 p.m. We would have three courses, a glass of wine or two, get out of the restaurant at 3 or so, full and happy...and drive for four hours, half of it in the dark on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with all the other holiday travelers?

I don't think so.

I suggested to my husband we bag the restaurant, have a good breakfast and start off to the motel late morning, then have Thanksgiving dinner when we got there.

He loved it.

Anybody know what restaurants are open for Thanksgiving in Somerset, Pa.?

Gailor does. When I broached the plan to her, she was skeptical. Five minutes after I got off the phone with her, I'm not exaggerating, she called back. She had spoken to Gretchen at the Somerset Holiday Inn, who had told her that "the Eat 'n Park at the bottom of the hill" would be serving Thanksgiving dinner.

Apart from other considerations, I'm not eating at a place where you park after you eat.

There are some better restaurants around, Gretchen had added, like the Ruby Tuesday, but she didn't think they would be open.

Maybe we'll just stay home and do Fallingwater another day. 

(AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 10:58 AM | | Comments (42)
Categories: Thanksgiving


As we all know it's not about the turkey its all about the side dishs and wine.

Please make sure you don't leave a mess at Fallingwater, because I intend to buy it when I become a zillionaire.

As for must be haute cusine if they abbreviate "and" that way! Perhaps there's a better restaurant a short drive of Somerset?

Go to the Pa . I do this often and usually get a good response. Is Somerset County near Bucks County? (used to live in Bucks years ago)

That's a good suggestion. I have no idea where anything is, and the Fallingwater Web site is no help. I only chose the Holiday Inn because it had a photo of Fallingwater on its Web page instead of one of the motel, which I'm still hearing about from Gailor. EL

Move Thanksgiving dinner to Saturday, cook it at home and tell Gailor she needs to invoke the "kinda sorta" loophole in her vegetarianism.

(Btw, maybe it is just me, but I always "park" after I eat Thanksgiving dinner. For a few hours.)

Well, at least there won't be any traffic on Thanksgiving night. That's a really good time to drive (I'm being serious).

Do a google search in the area - there do seem to be some nicer restaurants within a 30 minute drive. Jennerstown, Laughlintown...Turillo's steak house (the vegetarian would probably nix that one), Ligonier Country Inn, Green Gables restaurant, etc.

I've not been to any of them, and who knows if they're open on Thanksgiving. But hey, gotta leave some of the work to the expert!

EL, you could have breakfast at the Eat n Park, and order up some "Grilled Stickies". Apparently they are awesome...Awesome or not, I just want to know what grilled stickies are. On second thought, maybe I don't.

Sorry if this double posts

Trixie, you want to know. I'm 99% sure they are sticky buns, grilled up in butter. mmmm....

Why not a catered meal delivered to your home Wednesday evening? It could go in the car with you. Add a card table with a nice tablecloth, wine, china and silver of your choice, a candle and some nice music on a portable stereo. It's almost like room service.
Cafe On the Hill has an impressive catering menu for all diets, with special orders available on request.

You might have some better luck in Bedford, which is a few miles to the east of Somerset.

Look into the Jean Bonnet Tavern, a colonial tavern that has nice ambiance. The food is just ok with exception of their desserts that are pretty good.

There is also the recently renovated Bedford Springs Resort. I've never been, but it has beautiful grounds. After many years of driving by this vacant, historic property, I'm very glad that it was brought back from the dead.

Ah, that makes sense Bucky! Yeah, now that sounds good.

On behalf of those who care about you, please, please save Fallingwater for another day. Any day. Just not after a Thanksgiving dinner when that wonderful sated, torpor kicks in. And the only place to be is in a sofa or recliner, watching football or some animated special through heavy-lidded eyes. No matter the incentive, the last thing you're gonna' wanna' do come Thanksgiving night is cruise a turnpike.

There's no need to take the PA Turnpike to get to Fallingwater from Baltimore.

For some reason I was picturing the Somerset Holiday Inn as a quaint country Inn like the one in that Bing Crosby movie. Gretchen recommending the Eat 'n Park, and calling Ruby Tuesday a "better" restaurant, immediately had the voice in my head saying, "Oh, that Holiday Inn!"

The Bedford Springs Resort is indeed reopened and absolutely lovely. We went this past August. Great vistas, lovely dining rooms, stunning renovation. Now on the National Historic Register. Check it out:
They'll likely be serving Thanksgiving dinner.

I want to go with you. Being an architect and having lived in Valley Forge for six years I never got to Fallingwater.

The sandbox has hit a new low --- 18 posts over a bag of chips!

The sandbox has hit a new low --- 18 posts over a bag of chips!

Nah, we've gone way lower than that.

I've been told that chipping and sand go together, but I've never been a golfer, preferring to use my clubs on people, not balls.

I have a solution: have Eddie's of Roland park make a Thanksgiving feast for you (that's what I do every year), pack it up and eat it at the Holiday Inn.

People? I thought it was puppies.

The Green Gables restaurant is lovely. Look it up. They are doing Thanksgiving from 12-8. I had a great meal there last fall when we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a weekend trip to Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Stayed at a B&B about a half hour from the Wright properties. If I didn't have to go to my inlaws, I'd love to tag along!

We also "dined" at the Eat and Park, and it was pretty good. Smiley face cookies. But go with Green Gables.

Trixie, puppies are cute. People aren't.

Some people are cute, Lissa. Case in point: Hennessy Amanda.

Dahlink, while I am glad that Sean is happy over his daughter, there are few things more ugly than a newborn human. Newborn armadillos are one.

Pack a picnic Thanksgiving dinner

El, Winter is not ideal for visiting Fallingwater. You wouldn't want to do the walk outside if it's freezing cold. What if it snows? Most nicer places to stay in the area are closed for winter. One such place is Summit Inn Resort which has a nice restaurant and a beautiful view of the mountains. By the way, you can actually stay at the Fallingwater now, at a very steep price.

Well, you could visit Fallingwater, then drive back to Md - Deep Creek Lake / Oakland and have dinner at the Cornish Manor. And you could stay the night at the lake, which is pretty even in winter. And possibly ski - because Wisp always tries to be open for turkey day weekend. I know I'll be there that weekend.

For a very nice Thanksgiving dinner, check out Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, which is within just a few miles of Fallingwater. If you do decide to go, you should definitely also try to see Wright's Kentuck Knob house, which is only about 20 minutes away from Fallingwater. While Fallingwater is truly spectacular, many people who have visited both houses actually like Kentuck Knob even better. And BTW, the Flight 53 Memorial is also near Somerset, PA. I hope you do decide to go, and if so, that you have a great time. Happy Holidays!

Lissa - sometimes I think there is something wrong with you. To say nothing of the fact that Hennessy Amanda is absolutely beautiful, for you to say what you did out loud makes me shake my head.

I'll have to back Lissa on this one. Newborn humans are not pretty. Their tinyness helps make up for that, though.

Kitkat, I never claimed to be sane or to like children.

Why would either be necessary?

Neither would be necessary. Whether you like children or not, keeping unkind thoughts to yourself is the way to go. I doubt you would have the nerve to say to anyone face unkind things about their children, animals, clothes, size, etc.

I'm far worse face to face, Kitkat.

Note that I never said Sean's daughter was ugly. I said that newborn babies were.

Falling Water is not far from Uniontown, PA which has some good restaurants including a funky French one. And there are great B&B's in the area.
And you are in the neighborhood of Nemacolin, the paltial resort built by the owners of 84 Lumber - fortunately none of the lumber yard products were used in its construction. High end mahogany paneling, very well appointed interiors and high end dining in several restaurants on the premises. Even if you don't eat there, worth seeing.

Well, Lissa does have a point. Our older son was born in a forceps birth (I don't think they do that anymore) and he had flaming red forceps marks on his face. We had a visit from old friends while the marks were still visible, and the husband said "When he's older you can show him a photo and say 'See, you looked like this, but we kept you anyway!'" We thought he was absolutely gorgeous, of course.

All newborns look like Winston Churchhill. All they need is a cigar.

I'm not making this up but in Thai, the word to describe a cute baby is 'ugly'.

bra1nchild, my friends mom used to always say "stick cigar in any one of their faces and you've got Winston Churchill". I laughed when I saw that because I hadn't thought of that in years!

I have to admit, I think the lil rugrats are cute though.

Fallingwater is not to be missed, whenever you decide to go! I think driving out there on Thanksgiving day, dining at an elegant place, then staying overnight before your tour is a great idea.

I moved to the Pittsburgh area looong ago and heard ahead of time about a place called EATON PARK. Imagine my surprise when I saw the real name. First place I ever had shaved ham.

Aw shucks, Elizabeth, where's your sense of adventure? Thanksgiving's not a bad day to travel--Thanksgiving EVE is the bad travel day. My ex and I sang in a church choir Thanksgiving morning and then headed to his family home in Bernardsville, NJ. The roads were virtually empty, and we usually made the trip in under 3 hours. Sunday, on the other hand, is a horrid day to travel, so head for home on Saturday and get your beauty sleep.

I hope you reconsider the beautiful Laurel Highlands region for a visit over Thanksgiving. As for a place to eat, no visit to the Somerset area is complete without a dinner at the Oakhurst Tea Room. This family owned and operated restaurant has been around for 76 years and is famous for its smorgasbord buffet. Great food and lots of it. And yes, they are open on Thanksgiving!

Susie, you should have said, "We are open on Thanksgiving." We don't mind people associated with businesses commenting or giving us information, as long as you are up front about where your paycheck comes from.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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