Thursday, October 26, 2017

Lewisburg, West Virginia - The General Lewis Inn, The Greenbrier River Trails, The Lewisburg Ghost Tour, The Irish Pub, and The Jefferson Dining Room - Part 2

Continuing with our family reunion in Lewisburg, West Virginia, our home-base for the trip was the historic General Lewis Inn.

Built in 1834 with additions completed in 1928, the Inn has 24 rooms and suites. My brother and I shared a double/double room.

I loved the spindle beds. They reminded me of my granny's. And there were comfy comforters but I had to let the Queen Bed Tester, Amelie,  try out my mattress. She clearly approved.
All rooms have flatscreen TVs and free Wi-Fi.
Everything was meticulously clean and what you see on the table below, in the orange bottle, is complementary West Virginia Spring Water. Very refreshing.
Plus they offered super soft bathrobes and slippers. Nice touch!
There's fresh coffee waiting for us early in the morning out in the hallway and downstairs...

... we have the Thistle Lounge and...

...The The Jefferson Dining Room, where we happily had breakfast every morning. But we'll get into the restaurant later in the blog. Outside we had a front porch perfect for drinks and catching up.

And in the back there are gardens... 

...a reflection pool...

...rocking chairs...

...and a patio...

with flowers!
So who was General Andrew Lewis? (Info lifted from the Inn's website) - "Andrew Lewis, for whom this historic Inn and the town of Lewisburg are named,  served as one of George Washington's principal officers in the Virginia Regiment during the French & Indian War and, in the words of George Washington biographer Douglas Southall Freeman, was unquestionably the hardest-working officer of the Regiment."
General Andrew Lewis
Once settled in, one of the many side trips we went on during our long weekend stay was a visit to the Greenbrier River Trails. 78 miles of former railroad winds through several towns in West Virginia offering hiking, biking and horseback riding. We chose to walk along the Greenbrier River. It was a great opportunity to connect with nature in peaceful and beautiful surroundings.

The Greenbrier River Trail is rated one of the top 10 hiking trails in the country by Backpacker Magazine. 

One evening, we also experienced the candle lit Lewisburg Ghost Tour. Although not as spooky as I was expecting, it actually turned out to be a fascinating historical expedition of the town.


And to get a taste (or sip) of the local nightlife, we slipped into The Irish Pub. Here I am in deep discussion with Josh. I had asked him, "What is the name of this Irish Pub?" and he answered, "The Irish Pub." Easy enough.

Josh and I

Actually, Lewisburg is Josh's hometown and he was kind enough to put together our amazing itinerary. And although he was hoping we'd get a taste of the traditional Irish folk songs, often being sung by its quirky owner, the night we dropped in there was a game of Medical Trivia being played by the WV School of Osteopathic Medicine students. But we did get to experience local brews by both Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company and the Mountain State Brewing Company.

And on the last night of our visit, we decided to have dinner in the General Lewis' restaurant, the Jefferson Dining Room. But first, we ordered smart cocktails at the Thistle Bar...

  ...and enjoyed them out on the front porch...

...till our table was ready.
A table for two in the Jefferson Dining Room.
The Jefferson Dining Room prides itself in running an ethical restaurant that is good for their farmers, their staff and the world. They serve fair trade organic coffee, real butter, real maple syrup and prepare everything from scratch. On their menu you will find locally sourced meats, eggs and vegetables.

After placing our orders, each of us were presented with our own little cast iron skillet filled with delicious homemade cornbread. Not too sweet, just right. For the entire table we ordered delicious Smoked Bacon Wrapped Dates. Sweet dates covered with crispy pork belly, served with fresh made toasted baguettes topped with goat cheese. And they were brought to the table on slabs of slate. Can you spell H-E-A-V-E-N?

Bacon Wrapped Dates
Highlights of the dinner were the hand cut Certified Angus Beef Prime Rib-Eye with the General Lewis Inn's french fries topped with fried onion rings and served with mashed potatoes and succotash that both Josh and John ordered. Josh's comment was, "It was melt in your mouth good. And the succotash was a great side to help slide into Fall." (I like that play on words.)
Janet ordered the WV Mountain Rainbow Trout - raised in spring water with no hormones or antibiotics.
Rainbow Trout
And I had the Heritage Pork Chop - Vernal Vibe Rise pastured pork with a port reduction. These chops were absolutely divine. And the added spice of cumin in the succotash really made the fall vegetables sing. Somehow we're missing a pic of Leigh-Anne's hand cut Filet Mignon, perfectly cooked and seasoned.
Pork Chops
And a fine bottle of medium-bodied Montepulciano completed a wonderful final dinner for the family reunion.

Family feedback in regards to the General Lewis Inn? We'd all come back and stay a heartbeat. As for Lewisburg and everything that Josh put together?...Fantastic trip!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Lewisburg, West Virginia - The Greenbrier Resort, TOOT and The Stardust Cafe - Part 1

Lewisburg, West Virginia - voted "Coolest Small Town in America" by Budget Travel Magazine.

In the past I've had family reunions in Stillwater, MN, and Charlotte, NC, but recently we all met up in my niece's husband's home town of Lewisburg, West Virginia, which is in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains.
The cast of characters from left to right: my sister Janet, brother John, niece Leigh-Anne, yours truly and Leigh-Anne's husband Josh. And of course, Amelie, Leigh-Anne's and Josh's almost one-year-old.
Amelie tickling me.
When many people think of Lewisburg, the first thing that comes to mind is The Greenbrier Resort.
This massive complex not only includes accommodations, restaurants, a casino for members, and its world renowned golfing but it also has The Greenbrier Spa, which is the only Forbes Five-Star mineral spa in the world. Going all the way back to 1778 people have traveled to The Greenbrier to "take the waters." They bathed in the sulphur springs but today they also offer massages, or you can restore and rejuvenate in their whirlpools, steam rooms, and saunas. The Greenbrier also offers yoga, meditation seminars and much more. Plus you can still soak in the mineral waters.

The original historic spring house.
Renowned interior designer, Dorothy Draper, was hired to give the resort a fresh look after it was used as a hospital during World War II. "She left the hotel with a bold new personality, using color and oversized patterns to paint a picture that reflected the luxury of space, elegance and sense of history in every detail."  In 1960 her protege Carlton Varney took over and is the current decorator today.

There are 55 different activities you can take part in at the resort ranging from falconry to bowling. You can also browse through their 36 retail shops or visit their art colony cottages where artists continue to create.
Art Colony Cottages
Or you can just sit, relax, and take in the fresh air and beautiful views.

John and granddaughter Amelie.
On this visit to Lewisburg, which by the way was voted "America's Favorite Town" by Travel & Leisure Magazine, we timed it to coincide with the TOOT Festival. (Taste Of Our Towns). Local restaurants, clubs and organizations set up stalls along their main thoroughfare, Washington Street, and proceeds go to the restoration of their Carnegie Hall. Built by Andrew Carnegie in 1902 it is one of four Carnegie Halls. Can you guess where the other three are located? The answer will follow in Part 2 of our visit to Lewisburg.

Josh and Amelie ready for TOOT!
Lewisburg was also voted "Top Chefs" by Southern Living Magazine and taste treats along the street festival ranged from bbq pork sliders to vegetarian pizzas to cassoulet with rabbit. Later that evening we decided to dine at The Stardust Cafe.
Josh and I started out with smart cocktails while the table enjoyed a bottle of a full-bodied Malbec from Argentina. John had the tomato soup as an appetizer and at first look, I thought this was going to be too rich, but no! The soup was absolutely delicious.
Janet had the Thai Shrimp Bowl which consisted of a coconut red curry broth, grilled shrimp, green peas, cilantro, rice noodles and bok choy.

As Janet said, "It had very good flavor." Josh and I both had the Swift Level Farm steak - a 10 oz grilled rib-eye, served with mashed potatoes and sauteed zucchini. Swift Level is a 151-acre family farm located outside Lewisburg.

I agree with Josh when he says, "The steak was well seasoned and perfectly cooked." And as is with rib-eyes, the marbling gave it fantastic flavor.

John had the grilled salmon & basmati bowl -Alaskan salmon and creamy dill with green peas.
John commented that it was delicious but a little on the rich side. And the plating seemed a bit awkward. And finally, Leigh-Anne had the Saku Block sashimi tuna - 8 oz of thinly-sliced sashimi tuna served with sauteed zucchini, wasabi, organic pickled ginger, tamari & lemon.