Canal House Cafe Harpers Ferry Review
I went to the Canal House Cafe within the first few hours of my trip to Harpers Ferry. West Virginia is a mystical, foreign land to me, and coming from the city, I knew to expect something totally different. The Canal House Cafe is housed in a stone house dating back to 1821. It has a rustic, homey vibe to it. Locals and tourists gather around wooden tables in a smoky dining room with a fireplace. I felt like I was at home, relaxing at my kitchen table.
The restaurant has a BYOB policy, so wine glasses were on every table and and I could hear the boisterous laughter of inebriated guests seated in the upstairs dining room. This was charming, rather than annoying, and I felt like this was the perfect place to be on a bone-chilling November night.
The walls were decorated with charming antique paintings, frames and knickknacks. The amusing thing is that everything is for sale and has a price tag attached. Come for dinner, leave with a vintage clock! I later discovered that the Canal House is home to Le Petit Marche, an antique market. Other than a restaurant and vintage store, the Canal House also hosts trivia nights, concerts and special events such as Pies for the Park, a pie-tasting fundraiser.
And now to the food! We were handed quaint, handwritten menus. I just now realized that I was given the Thursday menu on a Friday. The Canal House Cafe’s focus is on local foods. The menu featured a variety of soups, salads and entrees with options for both carnivores and vegetarians.
Most places I eat, they give you bread before your meal. In West Virginia, you’re given cornbread. While American cornbread tends to be sweeter than the Serbian version I’m used to, this cornbread was basically as sweet as cake. It was delicious, but I felt like I was eating dessert before my entree!
I was in the mood for pasta, so I ordered the Fettucini Alfredo with Lemon and Chive ($15). I’m not a fan of citrus flavor in really anything but my water, so I asked them to hold off on the lemon. The pasta dish came sans-lemon, as I had requested. This may have been a mistake, however, because the pasta was pretty bland. It was garnished with a few stalks of broccoli and pepper slices that really did nothing for the flavor. I was pretty disappointed with my dish.
The Hand Cut Delmonico Steak ($21.50), on the other hand, was pretty darn good! The steak was enormous and was served with baked potatoes and grilled veggies. My pasta may have been better had it come with a hunk of meat like this. My only complaint about this dish is the potatoes, which were pretty much raw.
Of course we had to get the dessert, which was an Apple-Bartlett Pear Crisp a la Mode ($7). The dessert was a perfect way to usher in the fall season. I love hot and cold desserts, so I enjoyed this crisp. It was pretty much fruit and oats though, so I would’ve liked some kind of batter on it. The ice cream was delicious.
At the end of the meal, I asked to get my pasta leftovers wrapped up (it was a huge dish). Our waitress, who was odd and forgetful the whole evening, said “we dove it.” I had no idea what she was talking about. Then I got this:
My leftovers were wrapped in foil and shaped to look like a bird. Only in West Virginia!
Despite not enjoying my dish, I thought the Canal House Cafe was a good start to my West Virginian vacation. Although the prices were higher than I expected for a town in the middle of nowhere with a population of 285 people, the atmosphere was unique and unlike anything I could find in DC.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
1226 W Washington St.
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425