Bucks County Herald

Two Bucks restaurants among “Most Romantic”

OpenTable gathers statistics America’s top 100

CHRIS RUVO



The dining room at Barley Sheaf is part of the 1740 Manor House.

Two elegant Bucks County destinations were the only Pennsylvania restaurants named to OpenTable’s list of the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America for 2017.

The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm in Holicong and Arielle’s Country Inn of Sellersville beat out more than 24,000 restaurants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to make this year’s list, which was released in February.

“We were thrilled,” said Barley Sheaf Co-owner Mark Frank, whose establishment made OpenTable’s Top 100 for a second year in a row. “We know we have something special, but it's nice to be recognized – especially since this is an award based on the feedback of the guests who dine with us.”

Jacques Colmaire, head chef and owner at Arielle’s, and his team were both delighted and surprised – not least of all because of how they learned about the honor.

“Our customers started telling us about it before we even knew,” said Christine Eggstein, manager at Arielle’s. “It was a wonderful surprise.”

OpenTable, an online restaurant reservation service, compiled the list based on more than 10 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners. All restaurants with a minimum overall score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the percentage of reviews for which “romantic” was selected as a special feature.

“The list is dotted with restaurants located on picturesque properties and eateries showcasing cozy dining rooms with incredible ambiance,” Caroline Potter, OpenTable’s chief dining officer, wrote in a blog about the Top 100. “American and French cuisines dominate, and Italian, steakhouse fare, and fondue are also popular.”

Arielle’s Country Inn (ariellescountryinn.com) is housed in a historic stone building that dates to 1754. In older days, the establishment served as a stagecoach stop and inn for folks traveling by horse and coach between Philadelphia and Allentown.

White tablecloths, candlelight and warmth from the fireplace add to the romantic ambiance on chilly winter nights, while an airier charm comes to life with outdoor garden dining in the summer amid fresh flowers and a koi pond. Made from locally-sourced, fresh ingredients, the cuisine includes prime steaks, seafood and pasta.

“It’s an inn with an awful lot of character,” said Eggstein.

The same could be said of The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm (barleysheaf.com).

Surrounded by 100 acres of pasture and woodland views, the dining destination there is part of an idyllic getaway that includes 16 B&B suites spread through three buildings – the Stone Bank Barn, 1740 Manor House and Guest Cottage.

Flower gardens, two ponds, a swimming pool, scenic walking paths, miniature horses and sheep help create the feel of a latter-century country manor, winning the hearts of guests attending for everything from weddings to weekend retreats for two.

The property’s long, interesting history augments the romantic appeal, said Frank, who owns Barley Sheaf with his wife Deena. Part of the original William Penn Land Grant, the property has counted among its owners Juliana Force, then director of New York’s Whitney Museum, and most famously, George S. Kaufman – the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Tony Award-winning director.

All this atmosphere is complemented at the restaurant by cuisine Chef Josh Homacki develops using creative twists and mostly local ingredients, said Frank.

“We want,” he said, “our guests to savor the experience.”

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