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Carroll Valley Resort

October 17, 2004

By E.T. MOORE

FAIRFIELD, Pa. - If you'd like to take a leisurely drive while viewing some of the best scenery the Tri-State area has to offer, consider making a trip to Carroll Valley Resort, where you can top off your evening with satisfying entrees.

We journeyed there on a recent Saturday night and were surprised to find the large parking lot full. It was good that we had reservations, we both thought, wondering if the wait would be long regardless.

After entering the resort, we saw members of a wedding party posing for photos and realized the reason for all the vehicles.

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The resort can accommodate banquets and meetings for as many as 300 people, according to its advertisement in "Bonus Book 2004," which contains discounts and buy-one-get-one-free coupons to area restaurants, theaters, sport facilities and other special attractions.

We used the Carroll Valley Resort Bonus Book coupon and saved $19 on a meal that ended up costing $43.94.

It was a reasonable price for a relaxing and entertaining evening. While the wedding festivities were under way in a banquet room, we were secluded in the restaurant on the other side of the resort.

We were seated almost immediately upon arriving. The hostess gave us the option of waiting five minutes for a table near a window. We opted for that and were glad we did. The grounds are well-groomed and provided some nice backdrops for wedding party members' snapshots. We enjoyed watching the comings and goings.

The restaurant's rustic interior is decorated in cream, burgundy and earth tones, reminiscent of a mountain cabin. It's an appropriate decor for a restaurant adjacent to Ski Liberty.

We started our meal with a French Bread Bruschetta, topped with artichoke tapenade and aged provolone for $6.50.

It was a different twist from the tomato-topped Bruschetta to which we're accustomed. It was interesting to try, but I don't think we'd order it again.

We each had salads, which were served crisp with typical ingredients.

With the help of our waitress, Beth, I selected the Broiled Chilean Sea bass with a creole mustard sauce with sundried tomatoes for $22.95. I was debating over that and the Pesto Salmon, so I asked her opinion. She said she's been told that the Sea bass is the best dish on the menu.

After one bite, I understood why. The sundried tomatoes and mustard sauce were perfect complements to the mild flavor of the fish. I devoured - and thoroughly enjoyed - every bite.

The rice served on the side paled in comparison. It was bland and overcooked. I would have preferred the herbed mashed potatoes served to my dinner partner, but I was not given a choice.

He enjoyed the potatoes and was kind enough to give me a bite.

The highlight of the evening was the New York Strip steak special that he ordered. The large juicy cut of meat was cooked to his liking and had a wonderful flavor. The green beans served with his steak also were fresh and tasty.

We both had lemonade, which tasted like it was made from a store-brand powdered mix. We should have requested water with lemon.

Then we waited for coffee that did not taste fresh when it arrived.

The brownie sundae we shared wasn't worth the fat grams. The brownie wasn't moist, and the ice cream contained ice crystals.

The entrees we had truly made the meal. This restaurant does a superb job with those, but it seems that more time and effort can be afforded the side dishes and desserts.

Carroll Valley Resort

n Food: 2 1/2 forks (out of 4)

n Service: 3 forks

n Atmosphere: 4 forks

n Value: 3 forks

Hours: From 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; on Monday and Tuesday, the restaurant usually is open from 5 to 9 p.m. but occasionally will close early if business is light on those evenings. Reservations are suggested.

Prices: Range from $17.95 for Pecan Crusted Chicken with Maple Cream to $22.95 for Maryland Style Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes.

Location: 121 Sanders Road, Fairfield, Pa.

Directions: From Hagerstown, take Leitersburg Pike (Md. 60) into Waynesboro, Pa. Turn right onto Pa. 16. Turn left onto Pa. 116. Turn right onto Sanders Road.

Phone: 1-717-642-8211

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