Do you need a break from the daily grind? Your commute? The kids?
If your answer is a resounding “yes,” I’ve found a place that’s better than the Adirondacks and very convenient for all northeast city dwellers. Follow me to Camelot Restaurant & Inn in Clarks Summit, PA.
This region is naturally spectacular — especially this time of year.
Just a short drive away from Manhattan or Philadelphia, Camelot is a perfect retreat to see the fall foliage and it’s a colorful ride once you hit the Delaware Water Gap. The inn is conveniently situated near the Pocono, Endless, Elk and Montage Mountains.
Fall is the best time to escape the chaos and stress of city life and venture out to a place that is tranquil, charming and a free breath of fresh air. This inn was built in 2002 and was established as Camelot in 2010; it captures the old-world charm of England, Ireland or Scotland.
I had the pleasure of meeting Liz and Don Race who were the first proprietors of the inn and own a nearby horse stable with riding classes.
“We go to England every year and this building is based on The Royal Oak in Wiltshire. I think the original structure was built around the 1500s with a thatched roof — its origins are based on a pub, inn, post office and meeting place for the town locals. This is basically a Tudor style manor,” said Don.
The door reminded me of something out of a J.R.R. Tolkien book. Beyond it I found 9 guest rooms, an attractive lobby, a classic and spacious conference room, and a casual pub with an adjacent rustic dining room along with two working fireplaces on opposite sides of the dining area. There is a patio out back with lawns that overlook the mountains.
It’s everything you want outside of the city. You’ll have to take my word, but should also know that I used to be a local. The peak for the changing colors is just a week or two away.
There are two suites with kitchenettes and the other rooms have either king, queen or twin sized beds. They are appointed with a country sensibility and charming details like recessed furniture, toile wallpaper and accent pieces. All rooms have private baths.
“October 4th is our Tour of the Falling Leaves event that sets off the season with food and wine pairings. We also have a popular Tapas Night every Tuesday and our Sunday Brunch is doing really well. We are looking forward to the fall and ski season,” said Kathy Tumavitch, Sales Manager.
There is one major thing that sets this inn apart in my book: the restaurant. I’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit over the years and have dined in Michelin star restaurants. I’m not a food snob. I can enjoy a good hot dog on occasion around Times Square or a South Philly hoagie. My point is that the cuisine at Camelot is exceptional.
The pub side is as comfortable as waders and a favorite sweatshirt while the main dining room’s décor (pictured above) is cozy and a little more formal so you won’t feel out of place wearing something buttoned down or tailored up — the choice is up to you.
Executive Chef, Matt Vinetti, oversees the kitchen and menu.
I am blessed and lucky to enjoy all food without allergies or dietary restrictions and I love telling a server that I want to try whatever the chef would like to make on that particular evening. I also love the hospitality industry as this gives them a chance to show off their very best. Chef Vinetti came thru with as many flying colors as there are changing leaves on the trees.
His menu is Mediterranean based but there is something for every taste. In fact, it could be a little overwhelming and reduced down to two pages.
To start, I recommend the calamari served with a marinara sauce, kalamata olives, capers and feta cheese. This dish is delectable! If you like spicy, I suggest the Grilled Chorizo with a red wine mustard, toasted bread points, sharp imported cheese and tapenade. Delicious!
For entrée, the scallops with homemade gnocchi, asparagus and a brown sauce were simply mouth watering because the scallops were seared to perfection and the gnocchi are a welcome texture to the fresh snap of the asparagus.
Chef Vinetti is known for his Seafood Paella and creates an enormous, traditional Spanish version during weekend brunch. While it wasn’t my favorite dish due to the succulent Grilled Veal Flank Steak, I give him kudos for taking on the paella which is a complicated dish to make involving fresh seafood, rice, vegetables, saffron and a lot of time to perfect. There is a single serving pictured above.
If you want The Plaza or Four Seasons, stay in the city. If you want that B&B comradery, visit New England. However, if you are seeking the great outdoors with real and down-to-earth friendly folks, good service and comfortable accommodations, this is your destination.
“For happily-ever-aftering here in Camelot.”
Photos by Michael Straub and PK Greenfield