At the Bavarian and other eateries, weekends offer ideal time to indulge

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Brunch provides the perfect excuse to put off weekend chores and unwind from the stresses of a long week. Gather friends or loved ones and take in the simple pleasure of a thoughtfully prepared, thoroughly delicious midday meal.

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At the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, the Sunday brunch spread with eggs Benedict and other gourmet breakfast favorites as well as fine German fare is a showstopper.

At the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, the Sunday brunch spread with eggs Benedict and other gourmet breakfast favorites as well as fine German fare is a showstopper.

The Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown is home to the crème-de-la-crème brunch experience in the area. You’ll be wowed from the moment you step onto the grounds.

Brunch is served in an authentically German atmosphere inside an elegant stone manor surrounded by charming chalets on a bluff that overlooks the Potomac.

The extensive buffet is a beautiful sight, but it’s the dishes themselves that keep the Bavarian’s reservation book filled week after week. The brunch really does offer something for everyone here, and not just something – but dozens of memorable, first-class selections.

On the Sunday I visited, both the Bavarian’s Christian Asam – who runs the restaurant and inn with his brother David – and executive chef Wolfgang Vomend roamed the dining room, talking with guests and ensuring perfection in every last detail.

Those who prefer the classic breakfast choices will find made-to-order omelets, pancakes, French toast, waffles, corned beef hash, sausage, bacon and something usually not seen on a buffet, eggs Benedict.

Like many who come to brunch here, I found the German fare beckoned strongest. There’s everything from beef sauerbraten – wonderful, oven-roasted beef marinated in vinegar and spices – and potato dumplings to German sausages with sauerkraut and a delicious, sweet-sour spiced sauerkraut that was my favorite side dish of the day.

As I ate, I found myself comparing the dishes to my childhood memories growing up in Minnesota. I found the Bavarian stacks up to my German grandmother’s best cooking.

Other mouth-watering picks on the buffet include prime rib, lamb, vegetable lasagna, roasted salmon on ratatouille, smoked salmon, shrimp, seafood roulades, fresh veggies, fresh fruit and soup – on this day a creamy tomato basil that was rich and flavorful.

There’s also a cheese table with spreadable and sliced fine cheeses, liverwurst and crackers as well as rye, sourdough, croissants and other just-baked breads.

The Bavarian’s bottomless Bloody Marys are another draw at brunch.

The Bavarian’s bottomless Bloody Marys are another draw at brunch.

And then we have the Bavarian’s array of irresistible sweet endings, from cheesecake to raspberry Linzer torte to delicate cream puffs. My top pick: the bite-sized chocolate mousse in a caramel sauce.

The Bavarian’s brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays with an unlimited Bloody Mary, mimosa and champagne bar available for an extra $8 charge starting at 1 p.m.


Berkeley Springs

A road trip to Berkeley Springs offers two terrific destinations for brunch.

A recent visit started with me soaking in the spectacular view at Panorama at the Peak, a cozy hideaway situated just west of Berkeley Springs on W.Va. 9. You can see four states from its unique vantage point above the Potomac.

The menu reflects the commitment of proprietors Leslie Hotaling and Patti Miller and executive chef Scott Collinash, who aim to craft the best possible seasonal fare using fresh whole foods.

Panorama’s amaretto French toast relies on thick, homemade bread dipped in an amaretto-infused batter, then coated with crunchy pecans and served with farm-fresh bacon.

With a soft and creamy interior, a sweet, crunchy coating and just the perfect amount of cinnamon, this is a timeless favorite taken to a whole new level. Other enticing brunch selections include a quiche du jour and the portabella-Florentine Benedict.

No visit to Berkeley Springs is complete for me without a stop at Tari’s Café in the center of town. The café’s decor shines with local artists’ sparkling glasswork, pottery, photography, jewelry, sculptures, drawings and paintings.

Once I’ve placed my order, I like to meander through the café to admire the artwork as I sip from my cup of Tari’s robust fresh brew.

On Sundays, you can order from the regular menu or one of the café’s weekly selections.

I tried the pear-stuffed French toast, a sublime pairing of thick, homemade bread soaked in a cinnamon and nutmeg egg batter and grilled to perfection with sautéed pears.

The dish is served with a side of creamy apple butter, cream cheese and maple syrup. Grilling gave the dish just the right measure of sweetness with caramel undertones.


Quick picks

Sometimes, a leisurely brunch just isn’t in the cards. On mornings when you need to pick up a quick bite on the way to work or some other destination, you needn’t settle for fast food. Why choose a breakfast that’s run-of-the-McMill when there are fabulous homemade choices in the neighborhood?

The Fairfax Coffee House in Berkeley Springs offers not only gourmet, fresh-roasted coffee blends made with Berkeley Springs’ famous spring water but also serves granola, quiche, pastries and bagel sandwiches.

Orr’s Farm Market is adding more bakery items to its repertoire. Freshly baked apple cider doughnuts are moist and flavorful, and you can pick up an apple and a cup of hot cider to round out your meal.

The Bavarian has been a top Panhandle destination since the late 1970s.

The Bavarian has been a top Panhandle destination since the late 1970s.

In downtown Charles Town, Jumpin’ Java attracts fans for its breakfast bagels and sandwiches. Don’t overlook its uncommonly delicious danishes. The cheese variety disappears especially fast. The café’s just-roasted local Black Dog coffee makes any coffee-based drink a fine choice.


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