This time of season offers some breathtaking views in the Western New York and Northern Pennsylvania area. Take, for example, the scenery along Route 219. Rolling hills for miles on end, covered with lush and vibrant forests that will suddenly open up and expose regal streams and rivers. An evening drive after a hot summer day can be a phenomenal way to cool down … especially if you have a worthwhile destination.
If you said you were not familiar with the quaint town of Westline, PA, it would not be surprising. Located 15 miles south of Bradford, many outdoor enthusiasts have been traveling to Westline for years to take advantage of its fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, hiking and biking. Its proximity to the Kinzua Creek also makes the area one of the top trout fishing spots in Pennsylvania. And while there, many out-of-towners have discovered The Historic Westline Inn. From the outside, the inn looks like your typical small town bar and restaurant. Once you step inside, however, you begin to get a sense of why it is called The Historic Westline Inn.
The Inn was originally the home of Edmund Day and was built in the late 1800’s. His father, Ralph B. Day had built a chemical works factory in the Westline area. The factory turned timber (abundant in the area) into wood alcohol, charcoal, and acetic acid. When Mr. Day passed away in 1899, his son, Edmund took over the business. Edmund would go to the docks in New York City and help immigrants get situated in America. He would offer them jobs and a place to stay in Westline. At one point, the town had a population of approximately 700 people.
Those days are long gone and the town now has somewhere around 100 people. Nevertheless, the Days’ influence on The Westline Inn is still evident. Upon entering the dining area, your eyes are drawn to the walls where owners Trudy and Jon Pomeroy and Julia Frick have amassed over 37 years worth of mementoes that are abundant throughout the Inn. Photographs, stained glass, antique advertisements, paintings, wildlife artifacts and much more - including tributes to Mr. Day and the history surrounding the Inn - are just some of the sights you will see on the walls.
After Edmund passed away, Ruth Enis took ownership of the house and, with her husband, converted the house into a hotel. In 1948 the couple opened The Enis Hotel. They ran the hotel, along with the restaurant and bar, until 1975 when they sold it to Trudy, Jon, and Julia.
A PERSONAL VISIT
The sunroom dining area, where my date and I were seated, is an intimate setting with space for 10-12 people, and features a small shrine to Mr. Day and the factory that he ran. Here you can also see some of the original architecture of the building. Large hooks hang from the ceiling. These hooks were not for hanging meat, which was my original guess, but then why would those be in a sunroom? Edmund Day used them to hang wicker furniture (completely overkill based on the size of the hooks), which could then be taken down and moved out into the sun when he wanted. Apparently, Mr. Day was a tad eccentric. He was also innovative. He utilized boilers from the factory to heat what could’ve been the first indoor, heated swimming pool.
Everyone I met that evening, from the owners, to the waitress, to some of the regulars was both pleasant and overly accommodating. This is a family run business that understands that they are off the beaten path and that quality customer service has been the key to their success.
“We are unique because we attract people from places like Pittsburgh, State College, and Ohio,” said Trudy Pomeroy, a kind and insightful woman who graciously took the time to give me the abridged history of her establishment. “We’ve had HoliMont (Ski Area) members who have been visiting us for generations as they travel up to Ellicottville.” There was a noticeable sense of pride in Trudy’s voice as she talked about families who started visiting the inn when she first took ownership of it and how the children of those families now come with families of their own.
When you frequent The Westline Inn, do so on an empty stomach. You will leave full. Very full. The meal started off with homemade chicken soup. An appetizer (off the menu at this time but I was lucky enough that they had some in stock) of a pepper stuffed with leeks, sausage and a red sauce was brought out to me next. This combination was spicy, yet not so much that it was overbearing. The local leeks provided a delicious contrast to the sweeter red sauce.
After the appetizer was finished, a garden green salad was brought out, which was followed by the entree. At the recommendation of Trudy, I ordered the Chefs’ Specialty Steak Au Poivre. These two 5-ounce tenderloins are grilled to perfection (medium rare for me) with peppercorns and then covered with a flavorsome brown cognac sauce. The term “melts in your mouth” is a little cliché, but in this case I have to use it. It was easily one of the more enjoyable steaks I’ve had in quite some time. The portion size was generous; especially considering all of the food that came prior. (Did I mention that the steak came with a choice of potato? Because it did.) My date opted for the seafood catch of the day, which was shrimp served over a veggie platter. (The Inn has fresh seafood shipped in every Thursday.) The verdict: the shrimp was very flavorful, and the vegetables had a noticeable spice to them, which complimented the shrimp very nicely.
After dinner, an amazing Crème brûlée was brought out. Paired with whipped cream, this dessert was the perfect ending to a very enjoyable meal, which my date and I shared. (When I ordered it, the waitress balked and told us that once we tasted it, we would no longer want to share one. It turns out that she knew what she was talking about.)
THE REST OF THE TOUR …
Following dinner, I took a tour of the bar. It has a down-to-earth, rustic feel where socialization is emphasized. While you will find Wi-Fi at the Inn, there is no TV in the bar area because as Trudy explained, “If there is a TV, people focus on that and stop talking to each other.” This makes perfect sense. In an establishment where word-of-mouth has earned them plenty of business, it’s important to keep people talking. Quite honestly, with all of the keepsakes on the wall, there is plenty to look at already.
Trudy did emphasize that the Inn is now a restaurant and bar first, and an inn second. They do have modest accommodations available if you are looking for a place to crash for the night, but their primary business comes from fine food and beverages. I was also told that during the summer they tend to be more consistent in terms of business, and then when the winter comes, business picks up a lot on the weekends.
One advertisement claims that this is “the one and only Westline Inn.” I don’t know if that is done with a tongue-in-cheek tone or not due to the fact that Westline is so small and the Inn is the one place to go and eat, but there certainly are not many places that combine such a rich history of an area with a pleasurable eating experience. You go in for the food but you come out with an interesting education (and very full).
The Inn is open year round, Sunday through Thursday at 3pm and Friday/Saturday at noon. They serve a pub menu only on Mondays starting at 3pm. Reservations are not required but are recommended. Call 814-778-5103 to make a reservation.