Friday, July 15, 2011


As many of you know (or at least I hope you do), my restaurant blogs have been "teased" in the wonderful Byrd's Eye View newsletters written and published by filmmaker and journalist Art Byrd Jr. of Youngstown, Ohio. Since he's reached an important milestone - publication of his 100th newsletter - I decided to feature a restaurant that has historical significance as well: The Spread Eagle Tavern & Inn in Hanoverton.

Admittedly, my husb
and Jack and I reserve our visits for special occasions since it's at least an hour's drive from our home, but we've had the pleasure of dining there several times and not once have we been sorry we traveled that far.

Our most recent stop, though, was rather on a whim; we'd spent a wonderful few hours wandering around Zoar Village in Tuscar
awas County - another terrific place for history-lovers to visit, by the way - and we realized it would be easy to go home by way of Hanoverton. And when I looked at the Entertainment Book coupons I always keep in my purse and found one that saved us a few bucks on lunch at the Spread Eagle, we looked at each other and said, why not?

Great food, I should add, isn't the only thing that makes this a special pla
ce. As the name suggests, it's also an inn, with five guest rooms on the second and third floors ranging in cost from $125 a night for the Van Buren Room to $225 for the Washington Room (I'm guessing the price difference is more because of amenities than the pecking order of the two presidents). While you'll need advance reservations if you want to spend the night here, the folks at the restaurant are quick to oblige visitors who want to take a look around.

The restaurant, originally built more than a century and a half ago, features seven dining rooms; the William McKinley room is
more formal and private, while the "barn room" is more earthy and rugged. As an aside, McKinley is an Ohio boy who was born in Jack's hometown of Niles and grew up in Canton, not too far from Hanoverton, and memorials to the 25th president of our great country in both cities are other neat places to visit as well.

Back at
the tavern, if you like you can have cocktails in the Patrick Henry Tavern Room or downstairs in Gaver's Rathskeller, with its 12-foot vaulted ceilings and stone walls. Even if you don't imbibe, be sure to check out the rathskeller - and don't miss the memorabilia hanging on the stairway walls.

All the rooms can be described as cozy, most with fireplaces that come to life with a roar when there's a chill in the air. White linen tablecloths offset an abundance of old brick and weathered dark wood. The fireplaces alone are masterpieces, well worth a look-see if only for the antique tools and cookware standing and hanging about.

On our most recent visit, I chose the Fire Roasted Pasta - grilled Hungarian peppers in a blue cheese cream sauce over linguine for $10.95. Meanwhile, Jack chose the Shrimp & Crab Casserole Au Gratin, served over penne pasta with Alfredo sauce and topped with bread crumbs ($13.99).

My linguine noodles had to be nearly half an inch wide; the chicken and onions were cut in large chunks. Although the peppers weren't really hot by my cast-iron stomach standards, they did add enough zip to keep it interesting. The blue cheese sauce was very creamy, rich and quite filling - I couldn't possibly eat it all.

The creamy sauce on Jack's penne was delicious as well, and he called the bread crumb topping "tasty." It, too, was too much to handle at one sitting, so in the end both of us walked out carrying takeout boxes.

As wonderful as these choices are, I'll note that you may not find them on the menu when you go. In fact, Spread Eagle doesn't even put menu items on its website; you're encouraged to call to see what's being featured (and if you'll be driving some distance for dinner, I also suggest calling ahead for reservations). I suppose that not publishing a menu is because the menu changes often depending on what's in season; finding wild game here, for instance, isn't unusual. But on the other hand, somehow I can't imagine they'd be willing to read the entire menu to folks who call. I know for certain, though, that it's always wonderful with plenty of choices to suit every taste.

If at all possible, time your visit so you'll have time to look around the area nearby. Hanover, as it was known at the time of its settlement in 1813 by Quaker abolitionist James Craig, was central to life around the Sandy & Beaver Canal. By the 1830s, the town boasted about 2,000 residents. It also became known as a stopping place for runaway slaves, and evidence of underground passages remain here along "Brick Row," where the Spread Eagle Tavern was built in 1837.

If you really want to make a trip out of it, allow sufficient time to tour Columbiana County's "Golden Triangle," from Hanoverton to Lisbon to Salem, all of which are 10 miles from one another. All three communities have plenty of historical places to visit (and, for photography buffs like us, fill up lots of media cards).

If you go: Spread Eagle Tavern & Inn
10150 Plymouth St.
Hanoverton, Ohio 44423
(330) 223-1583

Open for lunch daily 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; dinner Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.