The Belvedere Inn (Lancaster, PA)

Review # 289

Having only dined inside at a restaurant once since March, Justin and I used this opportunity for a few days in Lancaster to try as many new places as we could, since the last few months have been sorely lacking in that category. We kicked off our trip in style at The Belvedere Inn, located in Lancaster City. This is a place that I have seen advertised for years, and it has quite a following. Many have even called it the best restaurant in Lancaster. I would need a second visit to confirm that, but we definitely got started off on the right foot. It had been such a long time since we had a fine dining experience, and it was nice to get dressed up to go out for a change.

The interior of The Belvedere is magnificent. You walk in and are greeted by a large staircase. You can tell immediately that the building is over a hundred years old. To the left of the front door is the kitchen. To the right there is a semi-vacant bar due to COVID restrictions in Pennsylvania (they had a few tables lined up near the bar, but you cannot sit directly at the bar as of this post). There is a dining room towards the back and an upstairs dining area/lounge with a second bar. We were seated in this upstairs area, and had to walk down a long dimly lit hallway in order to get there. This gave it a hidden feeling much like a speakeasy. This lounge was beautifully decorated in modern style, and while quite large, there were only a few tables placed there. These were adequately spaced, with plexiglass dividers in between. Thankfully I thought to make a reservation earlier in the day or perhaps we would not have been able to get in.

Our server was Will who was friendly and attentive. He also doubled as the bartender. I started off with a gin martini while Justin had one of the house special cocktails, a Coconut Mojito. We enjoyed ours both, and I thought my martini was expertly crafted. It had a different flavor than what I was used to— so different, in fact, that I even asked what vermouth was used (I was told Carpano). I stuck with these the rest of the night, while Justin switched over to Chardonnay.

The “Belvie Bread”

For appetizers, we relied on some of the reviews we had read. The one that stood out the most was the “Belvie Bread”, which was a sliced baguette topped with a sundried tomato aioli and melted parmesan. Admittedly, I am not a big fan of sundried tomatoes, but this was delicious. There was a creaminess to the aioli, which was perfectly accompanied by the bite of the parmesan. Our other app was the wedge salad, which was topped with a plentiful amount of bacon, gorgonzola cheese, toasted pistachios, and a warm bacon dressing. This managed to be savory and hearty yet light at the same time.

Wedge Salad

For entrees, I had a filet mignon staring at me from the menu, so I went with that. It was cooked to perfection at the medium rare I requested. It was accompanied with a large portion of asparagus (one of my favorite vegetables) and potato dauphinoise, which was like a gratin. The steak was the best I have had in a long time. It may even be the best filet mignon I’ve ever had. It was melt-in-your mouth tender and well-seasoned. The asparagus had been sautéed and I think there were over 20 of them. The potatoes, while having great texture, could have used a bit more seasoning. But the steak is what mattered, and I commend them on the job they did.

Filet Mignon

Justin ordered the braised short rib which was slow-cooked for four hours in a tomato-madeira herb sauce. He said it was cooked perfectly, and I observed how it was fork-tender. He said that while the sauce poured on top was delicious, the short rib itself without the sauce was bland. He also added a similar complaint about his mac-and-cheese that came with it: in both look and texture it was fine, but it could have used some more seasoning.

Braised Short Rib

Even though we were stuffed at this point, we still ordered dessert. This was vacation. We decided on the chocolate chip butterscotch bread pudding. Topped with Gifford’s vanilla ice cream, we both enjoyed it very much.

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Bread Pudding

Our experience at The Belvedere Inn was outstanding for a lot of reasons. Aside from great food, excellent cocktails, impeccable service, and an unbeatable atmosphere, it was nice to just feel normal after so many months of eating home. Based solely on my experience alone (especially the steak— I find it harder and harder to get a perfectly cooked steak nowadays), I might have gone with a 5 star review. But each write-up must be all-encompassing of every diner present. For that, I will go slightly lower with a 4.5 out of 5 stars . This, in itself, is quite an accomplishment for a first-time visit. The Belvedere is a place that I would definitely go back to again. As a visitor, I could see coming here one night during every trip to Lancaster. If I was local, I could easily see this becoming a spot for special occasions. I wish we got to experience this place in pre-COVID times and had a chance to enjoy their beautiful bar. Job well done to all involved!

The Belvedere Inn is located at 402 North Queen Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Originally posted here on my food bog.


Another beautifully written and informative review Greg.

But 20 spears of asparagus??? It happens to be my favorite veg as well, but I don’t think I could handle 20 spears on top of a steak and potatoes.


Great review. Thanks , Greg.

Been to the Lancaster area once before. No upscale meals there - we did Amish style family dining, which we werent going to get anywhere else in our usual lives.

Who knows when when transatlantic flying will feel safe again?


Actually I zoomed in now and counted 22! Plus a few more probably tucked underneath. Was it overkill? Maybe. But I ate every single one of them!


The upscale places are more in the city (with the exception of the Revere Tavern which is out in the country-- I highly recommend them and there’s a review on this site somewhere).

When I visited with my parents most of my life, we did the country places and Amish buffets, etc. But as good as they may be, if you’ve done one you’ve done em all. So we are exploring the city more and it has a LOT to offer. It is changing. Aside from American, there are pubs (review coming soon), Asian/sushi, Indian, African, Nepalese, Spanish, French, and more.

It might be worth another visit for you!

They’re a frugal bunch out there in Lancaster county but they will spend money on food. So the restaurant scene was always pretty good. The steakhouse at Renningers was always very good and the Accomac Inn. But that’s more than 20 years ago I lived out that way. You should also go to Yoders Market. The baking aisle is unbelievable.

The dining scene has always been great. I have been going there since I was quite literally in the womb. Even the Amish places and buffets are good, but many border on the quality vs. quantity motif. You will most certainly leave stuffed, but is the food really that good? Some yes, some no. I never bothered with Good 'N Plenty for that reason, as famous as it is. That and sitting at a long table with random strangers never appealed to me in the least.

I remember hearing about Renninger’s. Were they owned by the people who also run the large flea and antique market?

Stoudt’s also had a renowned steakhouse which I ate at years ago and did not think it was all that much…plus it was quite a drive from where we were staying in Lancaster. I remember the menu not being clear and I ordered a steak. It literally came with my piece of steak on a plate. No sides (I did not realize they needed to be ordered separately). The Brasserie also did a great steak (pre-blog days unfortunately) and the Olde Greenfield Inn is supposedly another popular fine dining establishment.

Unfortunately, people only think of PA Dutch and homecooking when they think of Lancaster. As much as the area has changed in regards to food, I don’t think they’ll ever quite shake that moniker.

I have 3 more restaurant reviews coming this week. Be on the lookout in this section of the forum. :smiley:

That’s one of the places where we did eat. Food was decent enough. Sitting with strangers was a cultural experience. I’ve no need to do it again.

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It is immensely popular, especially with bus trips. Has been since the 1960’s. I think it was in the 90’s when they expanded to a 500 person seating area.

Nothing against them, I just dislike small talk and trying to “get through” a meal with someone I don’t know. Same with Hibachi and even parties where I don’t know everyone. Its torture.

Between COVID and the younger generations not really into “family style dining” (honestly, a bulk of their crowd is families with youngish children and senior citizen tour groups), I don’t know what their future will hold. As you said, the concept is a cultural experience. The point of their existence, bringing strangers together for a meal, etc.

Correction. I’ve dug out my notes from that trip in 2004. It was actually the “Plain n Fancy” where we ate. Apparently it was better Tripadvisor reviewed than the "Good n Plenty*.

The family style made it a difficult meal. There were only four of us on the table. At the time, I don’t think too many Americans recognised an English accent unless it was a London one. So the other couple struggled to understand us a bit. You get more diverse British TV programming these days.And, I think he had suffered a stroke - certainly his speech was impaired, so we found it difficult understanding him. At least in more recent trips, I’ve not been asked if we are New Zealanders which was a fairly common question in the early trips.

By the by, my notes tell me the other night we were in the area, we ate at the Old Greenfield Inn. A much better evening.

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Ah yes, Plain and Fancy is the other mega family dining place that’s been around for decades. They have evolved since your last visit. They built a massive and modern hotel called Amish View which faces the sweeping farmland. They also have a second restaurant with a BBQ and beer focus.

Stoudts is the place I was thinking. Well, if the steaks not great the Deusenberg is. Shady Maple was always the destination when I lived out there although I’ve been to the others. At Shady Maple you get your own table.

Harters, I can tell the accents including the antipodean s & the south Africans. Although, one evening I had dinner with my friend Neal from Glasgow & his friend John from Yorkshire. We all spoke the same language but really had a hard time making conversation.

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Dad spoke rudimentary French, mom is pretty fluent in German. They both agreed they had an easier time understanding/being understood in France and Germany than in the non-London regions of the UK. I admit I turn on closed captioning for most British tv shows.

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Went to Shady Maple once as a child. It was good from what I remember. I think they advertised themselves as the biggest buffet in Lancaster. They’re probably right.

Our favorite buffet has always been Dienner’s. Didn’t catch them this time out. They are only doing a la carte at the moment. Cannot beat them for price and quality.

You may be surprised/not surprised to hear how far Miller’s has fallen off. Their prices are through the roof (always were-- they were getting $30 pp while everyone else was still at ~$15). It has been a few years, but everything was average. Not bad, just not worth the money. Oh, and they have a bar now. Go figure. I really think if you took the senior groups and tour buses out of the equation, most of these all-you-can-eat places would go under. I cannot imagine being a local and eating at any of them with any frequency (except Dienner’s breakfast).

It can be tricky, till you tune in to an accent. My wife is usually very good at it but I remember once being in a BBQ place in the Blue Ridge (can’t recall if it was NC or VA) and she couldnt understand a word from the server. I had to repeat things for her. On the other hand, my friend Paul who is from Kentucky (practices law there) has another friend who lives in my metro area. So, there’s me - middle class living in the south of the area - and the other guy - working class living in the north . Paul can understand me very well, so long as I slow down my speec, but really struggles with the other guy.

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Interesting article, Bone.

I suspect somewhere a linguist will have worked out a reason why accents differ across the English speaking world - think not just of America, but Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Something(s) have adapted the original diverse British accents into what they are today.