Last week was Spring Break and boy did we need it! I have no idea how you people who don't work in schools do it. BJ and I had previously purchased an Escapes deal from Living Social, way back before the Luce was born, and decided to use it over the break. We were really looking forward to it, as we are familiar with H'burg with many friends who attended James Madison University there. Here was the package, which was really a very, very good deal considering:
- 2 nights at the By The Side of the Road Inn in the main house. Because we had the baby with us, we were told we had to stay in the Bishop's Retreat, which is further away from the rest of the house and has 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a sitting room, as well as a small fridge and microwave, which are not included in the other rooms. The house is very nice, but situated in a residential area of town, which was kind of weird, but it was fine. The owners, a husband and wife and their daughter, were exceedingly nice and helpful. They were really sweet about the Luce being with us and gave us suggestions for places to visit. The 2 breakfasts we had, an herbed egg souffle with sausage and pancakes with orange cardamom sauce, were delicious. It was served at 9 am though, so that was hard for us to wait for with a little one who wakes up at 6. The room itself was nice, though perhaps not at luxurious as other B&B's we've been to. I didn't see the other rooms though and wonder if they are more what we're used to. I guess a "family room" doesn't really need to be swanky. 7/10 for our experience there.
- $10 to the local farmers market. This was fantastic. The market is in the center of town and is open more than just weekend mornings. They had tons of fresh salad greens and flowers and baked goods. We spent our gift certificate on cheese from Mountain View Farms. The Swiss-style "McClure" was amazing. 9/10 for the market.
- $10 to the local ice cream joint, Kline's Dairy Bar. We loved Kline's. We went both nights and had delicious homemade ice cream in the weekly flavor, which differs by location. We had Cherry Nut and Raspberry,and both were awesome. 10/10.
- Tasting fees waved at 2 wineries. One was closed while we were visiting, so we made it to just one of the free vineyards - Bluestone. They're fairly new but the tasting rooms was very nice and they even carried the McClure cheese we loved so much. Our favorite wine was the Beau, named after their dog. The owner was very sweet and didn't bat an eyelash at our bringing our baby in. 8/10. Not part of the package, but recommended by another guest at the inn, was Crosskeys Vineyard.
The setting was gorgeous and the wine was tasty, but the service was horrid. I think the woman doing the tasting could have been drunk. She was slow and flighty and did not pay attention to what she was doing. Plus, when a little girl visiting with another couple knocked something over and could have been hurt, she showed no concern and ignored it completely. Rude. 9/10 for the wine and the setting, 0/10 for the service.
- $60 to one of 2 restaurants. Because we had the baby, we chose the more casual L'Italia. Our hosts had gushed about the food earlier in the day, so we were really looking forward to it. We started with bruschetta, which was enormous and pretty good. BJ had the lobster ravioli, which he found had zero taste. My steak Gorgonzola Alfredo was also off. The steak had no seasoning at all and the sauce was sweet. Bleh. To finsh out our gift card, we ordered cannoli to go but had to toss it because it was also bland and kind of tasted like paste. Talk about disappointed. I feel badly about this review, because it was hyped to us so much, but you can't help what you like. 2/10.
We also at a meal at Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint, which was the culinary highlight of the trip. They only serve burgers, beer and fried oreos. The burgers are also served with a variety if intersting toppings. We tried one with cream cheese and pepper jelly. The burger was delicious, flavorful and juicy. BJ likes it so much he ordered another one. I also enjoyed my very first fried oreo, which was kind of like an oreo flavored donut. Great service as well. 10/10.
Another note - Harrisonburg is perhaps not the best place for a romantic OR a family getaway. It is a good base for hiking, but I think there are more charming towns. BJ felt like we were in an agricultural version of his hometown, and not in a positive way. So, now we know. We had a decent time over all, but won't be back.