Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jean Bonnet Tavern -- Creepy yet Tasty

DB~ got a deal on Groupon for a one night stay at Omni Bedford Springs in Bedford, PA. I'll be discussing the town of Bedford and the Bedford Springs resort in a subsequent post, but today's post will be about our dinner destination on Friday night...the Jean Bonnet Tavern.

So...yeah...if you don't take the French out of your mouth, it sure sounds like you're pronouncing this person's name. I promised DB~ that I wouldn't make any jokes to our, presumably, 20-something server when we got there. And let me tell you, that was a hard promise to keep, especially when our blond 20-something server welcomed us to the (this person's pronounciation) Tavern as soon as we got there.

The building dates from 1762 and is divided into a restaurant on one side, a tavern on the other, with a bed and breakfast on top. According to the restaurant's menu, the Jean Bonnet was built along the only road connecting Eastern PA with the Ohio River and the territories to the west. The Actual Jean Bonnet and his wife purchased the tavern in 1779 (with the building eventually being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979). In the late 1790's, the JBT was the meeting site for PA farmers upset over the federal excise tax on whiskey that would eventually swell into the Whiskey Rebellion. Think of the Dan Onorato tax on booze, but with tri-cornered hats and muskets.

In present times, not only the Jean Bonnet have nearly 250 years of history behind it, but they have also fashioned themselves as a go-to place for those that believe in the paranormal. Unbeknownst to us when we got there, the Jean Bonnet is supposedly haunted by a wide variety of spirits of those wronged here in the past. During the Whiskey Rebellion and during those zany days of fightin' with Injuns, apparently quite a few people were hung in the tavern. Nothing like going down for a drink with the fellas and watching someone swing from the rafters. And people say Netflix is a bane on people interacting with society?

As our server told us, the TV show Ghost Hunters has filmed here a couple of times. She was also kind enough to bring a binder over to DB~ and I showing all of the apparitions that have been photographed over the years. Most of them were categorized as "orbs" which are little balls of light in the picture. We thought they looked like water stains. During restorations in the 1950's, while they were digging up the floor the contractors found an intact skeleton of a man dating from the 1700's (determined by the clothes and ornamentation) long buried and forgotten. Perhaps he's one of the noises that people claim to hear thumping about periodically.

All of the hanging, ghosts, Whiskey Rebellion aside, the Jean Bonnet Tavern (snicker) is a good place to eat. DB~ tries to not eat meat in general, but specifically on Fridays during Lent, so I didn't want to have seared animal flesh falling out of my gullet either. As a result, we both had the crab cakes dinner. The two crab cakes were jammed with crab meat and just the right amount of breading to hold the whole kit and kaboodle together. For her potato side, DB~ got the sweet potato fries. They were crispy outside and soft inside and served with caramel sauce on the side. It was unbelievable how much the caramel improved the taste of sweet potato fries, which if not careful can get bland on you. With our dinner we got a standard sized house salad, but we preceded our dinner with a spinach and artichoke dip. Typically when you get a dip or a hummus, the restaurant never gives you enough dipping instruments and you feel guilty asking for more. Not here. We got plenty of tri-colored (red, white, and blue of course) tortilla chips. We were able to snack on the remainder throughout our dinner.

In summary, if you are in the Bedford area, I highly recommend checking out the Jean Bonnet. Whether you believe in ghosts, are interested in Whiskey Rebellion history, or just want a decent steak, there's something for everyone here.

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