There’s quite a variety of dining experiences available when you visit Hidden Valley. Here we list some of the options, in three categories: Recommended, Not Recommended and Fondly Remembered. In each category, they are listed by strength of the recommendation; that is the first in Recommended has the highest recommendation, and the first in Not Recommended is the most strongly not recommended.
Out of the Fire
A recent and very welcome entry to the local dining scene is Out of the Fire Cafe in nearby Donegal. The chefs are first rate and the cuisine can best be described as extraordinary. They specialize in seafood, but they also do a great job with lamb and beef. A great extra here is that they don’t have a liquor license, so you can bring your own wine, bringing down the cost of the meal. We give this our highest recommendation; you will like it. Be sure to call early for reservations because it fills up.
The Italian Oven
The “Oven” has been through the growth of a franchise based on this store, and the collapse of the franchise. When the new owners of the franchise threatened to close the Somerset restaurant, a group of employees purchased it and they have brought it back to its roots–a family-style restaurant with quality food, prepared from fresh local ingredients, featuring low prices. The food is really good, the service is good, and you will really like the prices. It’s a good place to bring children–who doesn’t like a bowl of spaghetti with great sauce and meatballs?
The Italian Overn is located in Somerset on Route 31, about ten mintues from Hidden Valley. The address is 4129 Glades Pike, and the phone number is 814 445-4141. It’s across the street from the Giant Eagle supermarket, which is a good place to stock the refrigerator on the day you arrive.
About a half hour away, next door to a summer theater where we’ve seen excellent plays is the Green Gables Restaurant. In the past few years, the restaurant has had several excellent chefs, preparing delicious and creative cuisine. We recommend it strongly, particularly because they haven’t raised prices! The restaurant is situated beside a beautiful lake, shown in the photo to the left. It’s great fun to watch the ducks on the lake as you dine.
The wine list is a good one, with a knowledgeable sommelier. They also now offer wine tastings that are interesting and worthwhile.
For a great evening, have dinner at the restaurant and then follow the walk through the grove of tall pines to the theater to see a play. You’ll find that the plays are cast with experienced professional actors who do a great job and also enjoy performing in this intimate setting.
Helen’s at Seven Springs
If you’re in the mood for fine Continental-style food, with an excellent wine list that’s priced reasonably, Helen’s at Seven Springs is one of the best in the area. It’s located in a separate structure, the size of a large house. You’ll eat in a dining room with only one or two other tables. The menu is terrific, service is excellent, and for the (high) quality it’s priced fairly. Helen’s is the place to go for a really nice dinner. The phone number is 814 352-777. Reservations recommended.
You won’t find JB’s on any dining guides–it’s a small building on the side of the road. JB’s is locally owned by Bonnie Sechler and Jay Shaulis. They have no tables, not even inside dining. In warm weather, you can eat on one of several picnic tables they have, but you’re eating in a parking lot beside a busy road. So think of them for a takeout dinner, or even a dinner to take home with you when you leave Hidden Valley. On Sunday only, they will even do home delivery! They have outstanding barbecue and baked goods. They have chicken, ribs, ham, beef and pork barbecue, potatoes, baked beans, on and on. And there’s a bakery, too, for great dessert.
What you get here is sophisticated cooking from a completely unexpected source. You can order in advance; they can even feed a group. They’re located on Route 601 in Somerset, between Lowe’s and Wal-Mart, right up the street from the Turnpike interchange in Somerset. Call them on 814 445-8900.
Hidden Valley Golf Club
In warm weather, don’t forget the Hidden Valley Golf Club as a place to eat if you don’t want to cook. Yes, it’s small; but the service is good and personable, and they have a variety of excellent fish and meat dinners for just $10 apiece. There’s also a wine list and beer. If it’s a nice day, take a walk from 5112 to the golf club and have weekend brunch, breakfast, lunch or dinner at the golf club. You’ll enjoy the meal and the ambiance, you can eat outside overlooking several beautiful holes of the golf club and you won’t be sorry you made the short walk to get there.
Rustic Mountain Pizza
Close to Hidden Valley on Route 31 you’ll find Rustic Mountain Pizza. They’re in a small building with a home-made sign, and it’s easy to pass them without noticing–but they are worth noticing because they make great pizza in a giant, modern pizza oven. You’ll also like the friendly service that you get at this family-owned restaurant.
Best of all, they deliver to Hidden Valley! So if you’re tired after a day on the slopes or the links, or a day on the bike trail, just relax in the condo and call Rustic Mountain Pizza. You’ll like the result and you’ll appreciate the friendly service.
What we don’t recommend is eating at the restaurant. If you pick up a pizza, you’ll see what we mean.
Foggy Mountain Lodge and Restaurant
In nearby Stahlstown is the Foggy Mountain Lodge. They have great food and lodging as well, although of course we’re rather have you stay in our place at Hidden Valley! We’ve enjoyed a number of dinners at the Lodge, and recommend it. You’ll find sophisticated food along with a casual and friendly atmosphere. A trip to the Stone Villa Winery and Foggy Mountain can make a good combination excursion.
Stone Villa Winery
Near Donegal, just one exit on the Turnpike from Somerset, is the Stone Villa Winery. The owner was in the construction business before opening his winery, and you can tell from the beauty of the stone buildings that he has constructed. However, we’ve never taken anyone to Stone Villa who didn’t like the wines and particularly the ambience of the site. Visit their Web site; you’ll see that they regularly host special events. On a nice day, you can bring a picnic lunch and sit on their patio, buy a bottle of their wine at the winery price, and then enjoy your picnic overlooking their beautiful lake. If you’re lucky there will be a musician performing while you’re there.
They offer free tastings, and winery pricing if you buy a case or more of their wine. I think you’re likely to find wines that are worth taking home.
There is another winery that’s closer to Hidden Valley, but we have not been impressed with the quality of their offerings–although, of course, your taste may differ, so you might like the Glades Pike Winery although we don’t. There’s always the possibility that the quality of their offerings might improve, and we haven’t visited for a few years. If you do visit and like it, please let us know by email.
Oakhurst Tea Room
If you reach Hidden Valley from Somerset, on Route 31 you’ll pass the Oakhurst Tea Room, and you may see a large parking lot with a lot of cars. The Tea Room is a fixture of the local dining scene, having grown to its present size since its establishment in 1933. They offer a smorgasbord with considerable variety. Frankly, we don’t recommend it, because in our opinion the food that’s served is poor, with limited preparation. However, the parking lot does fill up, so someone must like it. It’s just down the road from Hidden Valley. If you do try it and like it, let us know! We’ll be surprised if you like it.
The Brass Duck
One restaurant, the Brass Duck, has been a favorite of our for years when we visit Hidden Valley. In Stahlstown, there’s an old house that was stunningly remodeled into a spffy, modern but elegant restaurant. Originally their chef put together a great menu featuring fabulous duck dishes. Every visitor was given a small golden duck sticker. There was a fire, and then a reopening under a new owner, with a good chef, and a rebirth of an old favorite.
Sadly, though, the new incarnation didn’t last, and now the building houses a bar. The Brass Duck, and its joy and elegance, are gone. We regret its passing, and remember it here so that people who search for it on the Web can find this memory of a great restaurant and many great times spent there, and they can learn the fate of this once-happy adventure that brought great food and good times into the Laurel Mountains. Good bye, Brass Duck, we loved you.