By Anne Chovey
Special to The Herald-Mail
SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — I am continuing my culinary world tour with my most recent stop in England. My friend, Pap Ricka, and I decided to visit The Yorkshire Old English Restaurant and Pub in Shepherdstown. I was quite curious to sample its offerings.
The Yorkshire is located right on German Street in downtown Shepherdstown. We entered into the pub side of the restaurant, which was a large room with a magnificent bar and small tables and chairs. We were greeted by two wait staff.
We had attempted to make a reservation by leaving a message on the answering machine, but it had not been received. Fortunately, the restaurant was not crowded and we were ushered into a second room that serves as the dining room.
Like many places in downtown Shepherdstown, the building is old with all the charm of high ceilings and big windows. The dining room had mirrors all along the back wall, which made the room look twice as big. For a minute I thought there were windows at the back of the room until I realized it was only a reflection. The room was decorated with large original artwork in dramatic colors and designs. It made for an interesting contrast in the old room.
As we were in an English pub, we decided to have a beer before dinner. It seemed appropriate. While we sipped, we turned our attention to the menu.
I tried to think of signature English dishes and was pleased to see that several were listed: housemade bangers and mash (sausages and potatoes) and traditional shepherds pie (like a pot pie with lamb) were served as entrées.
But also on the menu were such items as filet mignon and prime rib; seafood cakes made from shrimp, scallops, crab and haddock; and stuffed pork tenderloin. The cost of the entrées ranged from $15.95 to $24.95. There were sandwiches as well: burgers, chicken topped with ham, a Reuben, barbecue and a club sandwich. The sandwiches were $7.95 to $9.95. For the vegetarian, there was spinach and mushroom ravioli and a “grilled vegetable napoleon,” which was squash, peppers, onions and mushrooms topped with melted brie.
Both Pap and I wanted to experience traditional English fare and so decided upon an appetizer of Guinness and aged cheddar fondue served with soft pretzels. The fondue was served in a rather large ramekin and surrounded by slices of bread. Mixing the very dark-colored Guinness beer with cheddar cheese resulted in a rather muddy looking dip, but it was warm and gooey so we plunged in. The soft pretzels seemed more like bread, but they did have a golden brown crust and plenty of salt. The fondue was slightly disappointing: The texture was good, but for all its strong ingredients, it was strangely bland.
For our entrées, we again went with English favorites. Pap chose fish and chips, which seemed to be a popular choice among other patrons in the restaurant. I thought that I had to try the Yorkshire pudding, seeing that we were in the Yorkshire restaurant.
Our waitress brought our dinners promptly. Pap’s was a huge piece of fish and a sizeable portion of french fries (chips). The fish was well battered in a crisp but not heavy coating. Inside, the fish was tender and hot. Pap was delighted. He liked the chips, which were also crisp. And he really liked the cole slaw, which was just the right accompaniment.
My Yorkshire pudding consisted of two mounds of dough topped by slices of prime rib and gravy. The texture of the pudding was a cross between a dumpling and bread. Each had a slight hollow in the top to hold the gravy. The sliced prime rib was draped over the top and had a dollop of sour cream on top. I expected to love this dish, but found it lacking in flavor. My understanding of the pudding is that it is cooked in drippings from the beef, which causes it to puff and brown so I guess I was thinking it would be more flavorful. The beef was tender, but unremarkable. It was quite filling and I ended up taking the second pudding home with me.
I have heard that English cuisine is known for being hearty, plain food. If that is so, then the Yorkshire gets it right. We were stuffed when we left and we very much enjoyed our adventure.
Anne Chovey is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail freelance writer who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.
The Yorkshire Old English Restaurant and Pub
Overall: 3 (out of 5)
Value: 3 1/2
Address: 117 E. German St., Shepherdstown, W.Va.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.
Food: English and American fare
Bathrooms: While the bathroom looked very elegant in its appointments, it has not been well maintained. Items in the hallway would make wheelchair access difficult.
Parking and handicapped accessibility: Parking in Shepherdstown is frequently difficult. On street metered parking is available.