Sometimes, country roads do more than take us home; they fuel the soul and restore us back to whole, especially after an unsettling period. The Bavarian Inn Resort & Brewing Company www.bavarianinnwv.com , Shepherdstown, West Virginia's elegant, European enclave, accomplishes this feat. And it makes the perfect haven to call home, while exploring not only Shepherdstown, the state’s oldest town as well as nearby charming and historic locales like Harpers Ferry and Charles Town, West Virginia, plus Frederick and Antietam, Maryland. Civil war and history buffs will appreciate touring these historic towns, and at the same time, experience the vibrancy of a college town, since Shepherdstown is home to Shepherd University.

With European roots and West Virginia heritage, the resort has mastered hospitality with its signature Bavarian-style accommodations, culinary expertise with a German flair and its latest addition, the highly praised Bavarian Brothers Brewing Company. The 72-rooms, many with fireplaces and stunning views is perched atop the curvy, lilting Potomac River and the welcoming brewery are a must-visit and stay-overnight-kind-of-place. Infinity 101 is the dramatic infinity pool and casual poolside bar-eatery that feels like an oasis, and it is a so inviting during any summer visit. Why 101? The pool’s cascading edge is 101 feet above the Potomac. The property’s slogan, “Where the only thing we overlook is the Potomac!,” held true again during a recent, return visit. Other on- property amenities include tennis, basketball and bocce courts, fire pits, and S’mores, and fitness room. Resort guests can golf at Cress Creek golf course, a mile away.

Within walking distance you’ll find shopping, restaurants and coffee shops, boat, pedal and paddle bike rentals. A short drive away are, Antietam Battlefield, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, River Riders Adventure Park with zip-lines and canopy tours, Hollywood Casino, as well as other happening breweries and scenic wineries.

Food options at the Bavarian range from a formal dining experience in the Potomac Room to a casual poolside snack. If you want the fine dining experience in a more casual atmosphere, the Brewpub makes the perfect setting, serving up the same menu. A picture window gives you a glance of the brew master creating his everchanging brews. Although now retired, two of the brews pay homage to the founders of the Bavarian, Carol and Erwin Asam. Their sons, Christian and David are now at the helm and are thrilled to see their vision has come to fruition. “Erwin’s Angry Ale” celebrates their dad’s “German Engineering.” David mentioned that his dad is known as a man of incredible work ethic, vision and velocity to accomplish all tasks and this IPA lives up to its namesake. ”Carol’s Royal Stone” celebrates mom, who is aka “Queen of the Bavarian.” She is a native of Sheffield England and the brothers said, “just like “her majesty,” This beer is expressive, and no nonsense, yet incredibly graceful on the palate. “Brew Recipes are constantly being conceptualized and implemented, and we take a fun and whimsical approach to naming them,” said David.

The beer garden’s fire pit, sitting like a crown atop the hill out-back, offers a charming spot to enjoy after-dinner drinks; even better, families are invited to roast marshmallows with s’more kits, before retiring to their guestroom.

During this visit, I chose to experience dinner in the inviting and visually alluring brewpub since it had been under construction during a prior stay a few years ago. The German Pretzel, stuffed with crab, could be a meal in itself, taking up the entire dinner plate. The huge pretzel is chock full of lump crab and doused in a three-cheese sauce made with Bavarian Brothers Lager. Remoulade and mustard accompany it for additional dipping. Avocado fries piqued my interest, having never seen this on a menu before. Avocado wedges are coated with Panko and flash fried to the perfect crispness and served with tomato salad and a cilantro emulsion. The house made spaetzle is prepared with Gruyere cheese, Black Forest ham and asparagus tips. The fish n’ chips is coated in a batter made unsurprisingly with Bavarian Brothers Brewery beer and expertly fried to a golden brown, served with hand cut steak fries.

No German meal is complete without apple strudel. The flakiness of the dough and the not-too-sweet filling put this strudel on the top of the list of apple strudels of which I have indulged. The beer accompaniment I tried, Himbeere Weiss (Raspberry Wheat), is a nod to the Asam family and their German roots. Perfectly refreshing for the hot day! It gets brewed using organic raspberry puree and German White wheat. I found it to be light on the palate, balancing fruitiness with wheat tones.

The breakfast menu offers the standard breakfast fare as well as a few specialties. I savored, the Chesapeake Benedict; poached eggs, Black Forest ham, jumbo lump crabmeat on an English muffin topped with Hollandaise sauce. And, oh, those warm homemade biscuits…. you’ll want to take a few home.

For lunch one day, I devoured the Reuben sandwich. Lean corned beef, Swiss cheese, homemade sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing pack the marble rye. The accompanying German potato salad is superb. The recipe for the sauerkraut and the resorts famous Jaegerschnitzel can be found at https://bit.ly/3repPP5 The Bavarian Brother’ Brewing Signature Burger is eye-catching, probably the tallest burger I have ever seen; a Hereford beef patty topped with seared bratwurst, pickled red cabbage, Gruyere cheese on a brioche bun and that isn’t enough, top it off with a fried egg!

Wine connoisseurs won’t be disappointed with the award-winning (Wine Spectator) wine list containing more than 600 labels from around the globe, including specially cellared German Rieslings.

Check out my video with co-owner, David Asam

https://youtu.be/Qh-qutEBWy4

In walking distance from the inn, the eclectic and dynamic downtown of Shepherdstown offers a wide range of culinary and retail establishments.

Betty’s, 114 E German St., is where locals and visitors alike eat breakfast. The ambience will take you back in time. Nothing fancy, but this is what makes the place special and welcoming. Comfort food at its best. A must is the signature crab cakes; all lump crab meat, mixed with a special recipe and grilled to perfection. Another specialty is the sausage gravy, receiving accolades in Popular Mechanics magazine. Roast beef is made in-house, as are the vintage-style pies, cakes and puddings.

Regina, the owner since 2001, suggested those who are very hungry try the double-decker Rumsey Burger: two freshly ground burgers, cheese, lettuce, tomato and Thousand Island dressing. She brought me a sample of what I thought was a retro recipe, beef and pickle salad. It reminded me of those potluck lunches of years past.

The Press Room, www.pressroomwv.com 129 W. German St., is in the building that once housed the local newspaper’s printing press. I started with the roasted beet salad. Tender, sweet beets are drizzled with balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with just enough Gorgonzola cheese. A creative take on a salmon entrée is penne with pieces of both fresh and smoked salmon, with the latter adding the perfect smoke flavor to the dish. A light cream sauce with bits of fresh tomato and capers coated the al dente- cooked penne and fish. The veal chop special was enticing, stuffed with prosciutto and Fontina cheese then crusted in Panko and pan fried. The beautifully plated, pillowy panna cotta served with fresh berries and finished with fig vincotto (rich and aromatic reduction of Italian crushed grapes with notes of fig) was the sweet ending to a delightful dinner.

Located at 108 E. German St., Maria’s Taqueria serves up one of my favorite snacks: chips and guacamole, and it is good. The quesadilla is large and stuffed with melted cheese and choice of meat, vegetables or beans. Sour cream, pico de gallo and salsa top off the dish. Maria is proud that all of the meat served is sourced locally and raised humanely, without antibiotics or hormones. The plantains with jalapeno aioli is a must. And, a meal here won’t break the bank.

Popcorn lovers must visit Mountaineer Popcorn www.mountaineerpopcorn.com , 102 E. German St., where the non-GMO popcorn is grown in the northern Shenandoah Valley of West Virginia. Popcorn purists will enjoy the traditional theater-style buttered popcorn. Those who want to step it up a notch and explore unique flavors such as dill pickle, loaded baked potato, pizza or buffalo wing will find it here. I enjoyed the cheddar and caramel mix, a tasty blend of sweet and salty. Coming off of July 4th “Freedom Crunch,” is a patriotic pick-me-up; kettle corn that’s enrobed with white chocolate, mixed with Chex cereal, and red, white and blue M& M’s.

A stop at Shepherdstown Sweet Shop & Bakery, www.wvbakery.com 100 W. German St., is perfect for a steaming cappuccino, coffee or freshly baked pastry. The name is deceiving since breakfast and lunch are served as well. You must try the nationally famous holiday stollen, available year-round. I am thankful they ship it, too, since it is the best I have had, and every so often I need to have my “fix.” You, too, will see why, after tasting it; rum-soaked raisins, dates, pecans, combined with sweet butter and specially spiced flour, and hand-shaped around a marzipan center. The baked loaf is brushed with melted butter and rolled in two kinds of sugar. Worth every calorie! The huge and moist macaroons are another favorite. Their breads are worthy of taking home a loaf…. or two, exactly what I did; English muffin bread and sourdough.

Lost Dog Coffee, www.lostdogcoffee.com 134 E. German St., is a popular spot for great coffee drinks and tea. A few sweet treats are available, too. The quirky and eclectic atmosphere with walls adorned with artwork makes it an interesting stop.

Visit Blue Moon Café, www.bluemooncafeshepherdstown.com 200 E High St., when the weather is conducive to outdoor dining. The area has a rushing stream and is covered with arching trees making your dining experience magical. The crab melts (crab and cheddar cheese melted over an English muffin, served in bite-sized wedges) is a dish I recall seeing in many community cookbooks. The eggplant lover I am, I ordered the Kimster (breaded eggplant, basil, pesto, fresh mozzarella cheese melted on a ciabatta roll), piled high, and I savored every bite. The Gobbler (smoked turkey, bacon, Russian dressing, melted Provolone on a Kaiser roll) I was informed is a popular sandwich. Those desiring vegetarian and gluten-free dishes will have many choices.

On the way out of town, a stop at Nutter’s Ice Cream, www.nuttersicecream.com 100 E. Main St., located in nearby Sharpsburg, was highly recommended, so it had to happen. I felt as if I were in a time capsule, based upon the vintage ambience of the interior of the historic building. Dozens of flavors adorn the see-through freezers. To begin the drive home, I opted for a coffee milkshake and the price…a lot less than I am used to. But bring cash, credit cards are not accepted.

For more on Shepherdstown and the surrounding area, visit www.discoveritallwv.com https://shepherdstown.info/

Stephen Fries, is a professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, in New Haven, CT. He has been a food and culinary travel columnist for the past 13 years and is co-founder of and host of “Worth Tasting,” a culinary walking tour of downtown New Haven, CT. email me at Stephen@stephenfries.com For more, go to stephenfries.com.

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