The Belvedere Inn may just have it all – great food, a friendly bar, a fun atmosphere, weekend entertainment, a touch of history and outdoor dining.
This Lancaster restaurant’s name was inspired by the widow’s walk, or belvedere, which sits atop the building that dates to 1869. Originally, it served as a town residence for John Rohrer, a Strasburg-area tobacco tycoon, who also owned The Rohrer House, a hotel that once sat at the corner of West Chestnut and North Queen streets. “Rohrer used this property for entertaining. We’ve kept that tradition going,” says Dean Oberholtzer, who opened The Belvedere in July 1998. “Most of our business is repeat business; people seem to like the friendliness of the staff and the fact that our food is consistently great.”
Beautifully decorated in true Victorian fashion, the first floor is home to the bar area and a dining room whose décor exudes warm, rich colors of red, gold and black. Work by local artists graces the walls. A marble-framed fireplace is the focal point of the upper level of the dining room. Another fireplace enhances the lower level. The high ceilings provide a spacious, lofty feeling that’s further magnified by mirrors that are scattered throughout the area.
The second floor is home to Crazy Shirley’s, a jazz bar/piano lounge. It’s named after long-time associate and staff member Shirley Fultineer, who, according to Dean, is semi-retired. “Everyone knows Shirley, and they always ask about her,” he says. The space also serves as a private dining area for business meetings and functions such as rehearsal dinners and birthday and anniversary parties. The room has its own bar and boasts a baby grand piano. The décor features warm red tones and mirror-filled walls.
Crazy Shirley’s shares the second floor with a deck that transforms into a lush gardenscape with the arrival of warm weather. “The deck has a great view. It’s filled with plants, and a fountain adds to the charm. People like to sit on the deck whenever the weather’s warm enough; we had some people dining there for lunch on some warm days in March. We do have patio heaters for the cooler nights. As long as it’s warm, the deck is open,” Dean explains.
The menu changes seasonally, and Dean notes that since day one, the focus has been on locally grown ingredients. Grilled Caesar Salad remains The Belvedere’s signature item. A popular menu item that’s a carry-over from the winter menu is the Seafood Fondue – crawfish, shrimp, smoked bay scallops, reggiano, cream cheese and baked sourdough brushed with shallot oil. “It’s a great thing to share. It’s savory and filling, too,” Dean observes.
Chef Corinna Killian has created an array of salads (including Roasted Beet, which is comprised of arugula and mixed greens, whipped cranberry goat cheese, roasted beets, toasted walnuts and poached pearl onions with a balsamic drizzle), sandwiches (the Buffalo Patty is an alternative to a burger) and entreés (Shrimp & Polenta features seared shrimp, creamy polenta, sweet pepper stew, tasso hamo, tomatoes and pickled fennel) for the lunch menu. The dinner menu features a mix of traditional favorites such as filet, salmon and chicken (free-range, stuffed with apricots and crimini mushrooms) with a modern spin. Chef Corinna also shares her family’s Maryland-style crab cake recipe.
The Belvedere also offers “feature nights.” Kobe burgers are $1 on Mondays; small plates are $5 on Wednesdays at the bar; and a $10 gourmet pasta special and half-price house wine are available on Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., at the bar. The Belvedere also offers a late night happy hour (10 p.m.-midnight) on Friday and Saturday.
The Belvedere is also known for its extensive bar menu that features cocktails (martinis!), wine and a changing array of draft beer.
“The Belvedere is more than just a restaurant,” Dean observes. “We have a special niche – people come in and have a drink followed by dinner, or they have dinner and a drink and then go upstairs to have a martini and listen to jazz.” He also notes that the restaurant has become a popular destination on First Fridays.
The Belvedere Inn is located at 402 N. Queen Street, Lancaster. Lunch is served 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday-Friday. Dinner is served 5-11 p.m., Sunday-Thursday, and 5 p.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday. Bar hours are 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Monday-Friday, and 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Saturday and Sunday. Crazy Shirley’s is open 7 p.m.-2 a.m., Wednesday and Thursday, and 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Friday and Saturday. Reservations are recommended, particularly for weekend dining. Call 394-2422 or visit belvederelancaster.com or Facebook.