Atmosphere dims at closing time

October 03, 2004|by E.T. MOORE

The Woods Resort

2 forks overall

· Food: 2 forks (out of 4)

· Service: 2 forks

· Atmosphere: 2 forks

· Value: 2 forks

Hours: The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Prices: Range from $5.95 for fried mushrooms with curry dip to $36.95 for filet mignon with an 8-ounce lobster tail

Credit cards: All major cards are accepted.

Phone: 1-800-248-2222 or 1-304-754-7977

Location: Mountain Lake Road, Hedgesville, W.Va.


HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Dining out always should be a relaxed activity during which you feel pampered, special and treated like a guest.

When that doesn't happen, the experience is less than positive. After all, you're paying for it. And in some cases you're paying a lot.

I only could describe a recent evening at The Woods Resort near Hedgesville as less than positive.

The Woods Resort has been a fixture in western Berkeley County for nearly 30 years. It began in 1976 as a vacation home site. Today, the 1,800-acre resort, 10 miles west of Interstate 81 between Hedgesville and Berkeley Springs, W.Va., has nearly 1,000 vacation and primary homes, a 36-hole golf course, and hotel accommodations.

It also offers dining in a pub, a restaurant and a grill.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are offered in the Walden Restaurant. Breakfast and lunch are available in the Club House Grill, and appetizers are available in the Walnut Pub.

My companion and I had dinner in Walden Restaurant, a long room with a wall of windows that overlook a pond and the resort swimming pool. Three walls and the ceiling are wood-paneled, and the evening lighting is subdued.

Many of the customers are residents. Others are using the hotel facilities. Still others, like me, live in the local area.

The restaurant has a pleasant atmosphere unless you happen to be there near closing time. Then the atmosphere begins to pale as busboys strip the tables around you, dropping utensils on bare tabletops.

The clatter of utensils and the message stripping tables sends - "go home" - ruins a quiet dinner out.

As this table stripping began, the restaurant was still an hour from closing, and seven tables were occupied in the room. Meanwhile, customers easily are forking out $60 for dinner for two.

I could, maybe, have forgiven it if the food had been better.

The appetizer was excellent. I thought we were off to a good start. My companion and I shared the jumbo lump crabmeat balls. The four crabmeat balls were delicious but pricey at $10.95. The appetizer was followed by a nice, crisp salad.

For entrees, my companion had salmon, and I ordered prime rib. The salmon was moist and flavorful. The prime rib was thick and cooked just right - slightly pink. Unfortunately, it looked better than it cut. The horseradish garnish - a tangy compliment - helped, but prime rib should be tender. This one wasn't.

There was a long delay between the salads and the entrees and an even longer delay before our waitress returned to see if we wanted dessert or coffee. We wanted both.

Dessert was a disappointment. We ordered the mocha chocolate truffle cake with ice cream for $4.50. It's very name promises rich chocolate flavor that melts in your mouth. The dry cake did not deliver on its promise. Only the ice cream gave it life.

The evening began impressively with the appetizer but wound to a whimper with dessert.

Restaurant reviews are contributed biweekly by Herald-Mail staff writers and editors alternating under the pseudonym E.T. Moore.

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