Down a lonely narrow road into a dreary winter forest on a February day so shivering cold that the skins and furs become brittle to the touch – I imagine the traveler’s feelings as they wonder if they will ever feel warm again – just as hope starts to wane, the Valley Green Inn comes into sight. It’s hard to remember you are in the city of Philadelphia, but there it is – the last remaining roadhouse.
The Inn is famous in Philadelphia for its age – dating back to 1685 when the 200 acre tract was purchased from William Penn. The Valley Green Hotel itself was built around 1850, and has been renovated several times since, becoming the Valley Green Inn. The Inn is jointly cared for by the “Friends of the Wissahickon” and the parks commission, yet remains a privately run business.
Today is Valentine’s Day 2016 – ok, it WAS Valentine’s day – when we made the drive into the heart of the city and into Fairmount park for Valentine’s Brunch. Our hosts from Virginia Beach had to make reservations several months in advance for reservations. Arriving early, I took the opportunity to take photos of the river, the Inn and the environs.
Joggers and bikers pass by the Inn on the old toll road through the Wissahikon Creek valley. The geese and ducks are huddled against the cold. The usually swift running creek skinned over with ice allowed a few openings where the ducks swam and complained about the cold.
At our appointed time, we were ushered into a warm bustling foyer; the smells of pastries, omelettes, shrimp, and all manner of breads and fruits joyfully greets the noses of all who enter. The sincerely warm welcome of the Maître Dame is the next hint that this will be a special experience.
Our waiter is friendly and very knowledgeable of all the brunch choices and the history of the inn as well. He takes our order as we pepper him with questions about curious items of décor, when the roadhouse became the Valley Green Inn and what exactly is in the Meatloaf Napoleon. And I highly recommend the Hot Buttered Rum Cider.
All the dishes are created as they are ordered – nothing pre-prepared. I’m pretty sure this place has never been introduced to a microwave. The omelets, Eggs Benedict, all magnificent. I had the Crabcake Benedict and my taste buds are strongly requesting an encore.
The décor is pure 1930’s, antique cabinets on the walls protecting the special china within; hissing radiators like you’d find at great Grandma’s house and a feeling of quiet warmth with smiling faces everywhere.
For a restaurant of this excellent quality and reputation, the modest $20 to $25 for any of the brunch entrees makes this an affordable delight for almost anyone. It’s very difficult to be unhappy is a place like this.
The Valley Green has hosted thousands of weddings and celebrations of every kind over the years – it’s more than a restaurant. It’s an experience.
For more information, visit http://valleygreeninn.com/ Reservations are really necessary, and can be made online or by phone at (215) 247-1730.
The Inn is at 7 Valley Green Rd, Philadelphia, PA, and if I can find myself there, it really IS within reach.