Written by Sue Gleiter, PennLive.com
Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs begins a new chapter.
Nearly a year after the property along the scenic Yellow Breeches Creek in Monroe Township changed hands and closed for renovations, guests are pulling up the resort’s long driveway. They arrive to spend a night in one of the lodges, catch a show in the playhouse, fly fish or enjoy dinner in The Barn restaurant with cocktails.
“It’s an escape. When you drive onto this property you are escaping everything. It’s its own universe. It’s a microcosm,” said Joseph Randle, chef.
Owner Mike Kennedy in partnership bought the 57-acre resort from the Heinze family. The property had been in the Heinze family since 1944 when Carlisle-area businessman Charles A.B. Heinze, bought the land as a summer estate for the family.
Kennedy ensured the new owners took a look back at Allenberry’s past, which stretches back to 1790s for some of the buildings, and captured the essence of what the founders originally saw.
They spent the better part of a year meticulously renovating nearly 20 buildings on the property, from a historic stone mansion to several lodges and the playhouse. The facility is managed by Leisure Hotels & Resorts which is overseeing lodge reservations as well as weddings, corporate meetings and events.
“A lot of vision went into it,” said Michelle Snyder, an associate at Allenberry.
Guests are driving in from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. But the resort also has a loyal local following.
Among the draws is The Barn, a restaurant located in the Fairfield Building with an outdoor terrace overlooking the Yellow Breeches.
The restaurant opened at the end of July with an “American creative” menu ranging from shoestring French fries, hush puppies and burgers to skirt steaks and clams casino stuffed trout with poached leeks.
The Stonewall Skirt Steak is served over lightly pickled fried green tomato with southwest crushed corn and shaved nopale salsa. The defiladed duck and mushroom dish with ginger broth and a nest of potatoes.
“Defiladed duck and mushroom sounds fancy but that’s not actually a culinary term. A defilade was a Civil War term for a defense structure,” Randle said.
“I make a little nest with potatoes and duck fat and make it until it’s crisp and turn the nest over so it’s a little defilade, a little defense,” he added.
Randle arrives at Allenberry in a roundabout way, having studied creative writing to feed his passion for composing and writing music. Working in restaurants was always part of his background, starting when he flipped burgers on the beach in his hometown of Cape May, New Jersey.
At the prompting of friends, he enrolled in the culinary arts program at Yorktowne School of Culinary Arts. He has worked at Troegs Brewing Company’s snack bar and Crave & Co. and Stocks on 2nd, both in Harrisburg.
“I went to culinary school to learn the rules. I figured the better I knew the rules, the better I would be able to break them,” he said.
At the Barn, Randle uses both local and sustainable ingredients from vegetables sourced from local farms to trout flown in from Idaho.
“I call my purveyors and ask what is available today, not this week. What product should I be buying? What’s great, not this month but literally this week or today,” he said.
A house made fried cheese dish’s daily preparations, for example, are dictated by the availability of ingredients, Randle said. Recently, the dish consisted of fried mozzarella with an asparagus salsa verde and ratatouille.
The menu also covers a Victorian watermelon salad made with fennel, feta, radish flower and honey lemon vinaigrette as well as the Union Wedge salad with a blue cheese dressing, bacon, corn, onion and hard boiled egg.
Diners can order sandwiches such as a BLT to steak tacos, crab cake sandwich and barbecue chicken sandwich. The Barn burger is made with Angus beef with a choice of about 10 different toppings for $14.
“With the burger, that’s one of the things I don’t get creative with. I want to do just really, really high quality. We are actually bringing in Wagyu ground beef. I probably blind taste tested a dozen samples. I want the best quality burger on the best quality roll,” Randle said.
At the bar, bartender Sal Pantano is mixing a variety of drinks from fruit-driven drinks to twists on old classics.
A Gingerberry Smash is like summer in a glass with muddled blackberries, bourbon ginger infused honey and club soda. A Cinnamon Roll Iced Coffee takes the nitro coffee trend to the next level by infusing Bailey’s Vanilla Cinnamon.
Pantano said the cocktail menu is designed to provide a fair mix of options “that will keep everyone’s palates happy.”
Prices range from $6 for a hush puppy appetizer to $10-$16 for sandwiches and $14-$38 for dinner entrees.
The Barn is open 4-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 4-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. It’s also open for brunch 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.