The gauntlet was originally an invention of chefs, who would slap turkeys with oven mitts and demand electric knives at dawn. Taste the edible creations of culinary innovators with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of Northern Italian fare at Christine's Creekside Inn in Reading.
Since beginning as Seifrit's Grist Mill in 1773 and moonlighting as a speakeasy in the 1920s, Christine's Creekside Inn has expanded its palate to offer an allegiance of Northern Italian, German, and French cuisine. Beneath the vaulted ceilings of the lodge-like dining room, patrons split their glances between the verdant creek bed beyond tall arched windows and a menu of steak, seafood, and veal. The baked french-onion au gratin soup ($4.95) serves as a creamy, tactfully brief preamble to the tender veal de la casa, which is washed in a light tomato sauce and served with onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and olives over a bed of linguini ($20.95). House-made desserts might include tiramisu or Italian custard that, like Oreo filling, changes flavors seasonally.
Christine’s Creekside Inn
The 200-year-old stone walls of Christine’s Creekside Inn sheltered an 18th-century grist mill, a knitting mill, and a Prohibition-era speakeasy before hosting executive chef and owner Doug Delong. This is a second homecoming for Delong, who was one of the original chefs here during the early 1990s when the restaurant was called Old Mill Inn. After an apprenticeship at the Green Hills Inn to study American and French cuisine, Delong returned to restore the elegance of the restaurant and pour two decades of experience into his hearty meat- and seafood-focused cuisine. Italian taste dominates the menu, so veal and chicken are draped in traditional sauces with lemon and capers, artichokes, or marsala wine to complement their tiny borsalino hats. Steaks are hand-cut from certified Angus beef and pair nicely with wine or a microbrew from the diverse list of 14 bottled beers.
Delicate iron chandeliers descend from timber beams in the peaked ceiling, but their soft glow seems unnecessary against a wall of arched windows that reach nearly two stories on their tippy toes. The broad hall exudes both cathedral grandeur and country charm, making it suitable for an elegant night out or a wedding reception.