Thursday, November 5, 2015

Victorian Restaurant Offers Fine Dining

This week my husband and I visited an old-school restaurant that has managed to nail the perfect formula for longevity and they must be doing something right since they've been in business for more than 45 years.

Alfred's Victorian, operating in the former Raymond-Young mansion in Middletown, Pennsylvania, was one of the first "special occasion" restaurants to open in the area back "in the day." I fondly remember visiting the place just once as a teen, with my father.  After that, it would be many years before I could return. Let's just say it was a matter of funding back then. I can still hear my grandmother's words when I whined about it. "You have champagne tastes and a beer pocketbook," she would say, on more than one occasion..

Finances have since improved, thankfully, and my husband had a birthday to celebrate this week, so off we went to the place of our first date, oh so many years ago.

When we stepped over the threshold, there was no one in sight, which was a bit eerie, but shortly afterwards a hostess emerged from a back room to seat us. We noticed that we had the place almost entirely to ourselves, which made it easy to stroll around and take pictures of the interior without disturbing other diners. 

First floor rooms at Alfred's Victorian

A cute, little romantic alcove.

Stairs leading to the second floor where the ghost is said to reside.

Speaking of eerie, Alfred's is said to be haunted. You can read more on that story here Unfortunately I didn't see any evidence of such haunting in any of these pictures, but then again, perhaps I was just on the wrong floor.

The restaurant hasn't changed much over the years and still specializes in pasta, veal and seafood dishes, even preparing some items "old-school style," which is to say table side, like the Caesar salad and the Steak Diane. 

For old times' sake, we ordered the Caesar. Our attentive waiter Carlos can be seen making it here. One wonders how many salads have been made in that bowl, to date. I should have asked.

Waiter Carlos prepares Caesar salad tableside.

For my entree, I chose crab imperial in pastry. My husband, in keeping with the pastry theme, chose a cheesy chicken tenderloin/tortellini/prosciuitto mixture wrapped in pastry, which he said he enjoyed very much.

When the time came for dessert, I had my eye on a pumpkin martini, but my hopes were dashed since they were out of some ingredient. I'm a sucker for all kinds of pumpkin drinks and love this time of year because of it. Mike, who rarely orders dessert, predictably passed on it this time, so when a creme brulee emerged from the kitchen as a gift for the birthday boy, we were pleasantly surprised. I must say it was delicious, even though all I managed to get was a meager spoonful since someone devoured it in record time.

Although I blame construction and the fact that it was a Tuesday night on the lack of diners, I  do hope that this cool, old gem of a place survives the multi-mullion street project taking place in the borough. I can see how the detours and lack of parking on the block can be a deterrent.

I also learned recently that the owner hired a firm a few years ago to upgrade the old house, which is showing just a few signs of being a bit "long in the tooth." 

You can read more about that here.

Before we exited, I took a picture of the outside of the house as it looks today--of course since we are now plunged into darkness at 6 p.m., there's not much to see here.

Alfred's Victorian--front view at night.

Here's to hoping the Alfred's can survive another 45 years!

In keeping (innkeeping?) with the Victorian theme, it's off to another Victorian mansion called "The Queen" in Bellefonte, the town where I was born. Can't wait to learn more about the history of the property and to tell you more about this small Pennsylvania town in the next few days.