By Loren Mayshark. Discover something new with your love this winter by showing how much you care with an escape to the bucolic charm of Chautauqua County. Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching but we invite you to turn any weekend into a special occasion that will forever be remembered.
Southern Tier Brewing Company and Craft Burgers and Brew – Lakewood, NY
Since its inception in 2002, Southern Tier Brewing Company’s commitment to using the finest ingredients to craft outstanding beer won it a following. As the young brewery continued to grow, so did its fan base. By 2009 the brewery was so popular that they built a 20,000 square foot brewhouse in order to keep up with the ballooning demand.
What better way to enjoy this marvel of brewing excellence than with a tour? Every Saturday, tours of their state-of-the art facility are available on a first come, first serve basis for $15 per person. Tickets may be purchased in the Empty Pint Brewpub. The tour concludes with beer samples in the Schalander Tasting Room overlooking the new brewhouse.
This beer themed dream date can then continue with a five minute car ride down to the heart of Lakewood, with dinner at Craft Burgers and Brews. In this modern restaurant/bar there are fourteen beers on tap ranging from local favorites to exclusive West Coast releases. The burgers are luscious, hand-formed patties served in an array of inventive ways. One of the most tantalizing is the Asian Burger, which comes with an expertly grilled pineapple ring and an inventive ginger mayo along with sautéed onions and the works. There is a bevy of exciting dishes to choose from beyond burgers and the feedback for this new arrival on the Chautauqua County restaurant scene has been overwhelmingly positive.
Forte and The Landmark – Jamestown, NY
Forte vows to make your Valentine’s date an evening to remember. In addition to their exceptional seasonal menu and fresh daily specials, a creative holiday menu will be offered. The items on the Valentine’s Day menu will be selected closer to the big day to ensure the finest ingredients are on hand. We can share that specials will highlight locally sourced ingredients, namely from CHQ Local Food, which is committed to connecting local farmers with restaurants and individuals through their basket deliveries.
Have a drink at the bar and with any luck you will receive insights from local celebrity mixologist, Nick Dean, who shares his musings on his blog Frontier Mixology. Dean has a knack for creating the perfect concoction to satisfy your taste buds and enhance your evening. Hang out with him at the bar and enjoy the daily steak special – eight ounce sirloin cooked to perfection along with salad, a homemade roll, and garlic mashed potatoes with a pint of draft beer for $14 (bar and lounge only). With all the action and great food, you may not even want to leave the bar for a table. It is strongly recommended that you call ahead for reservations.
If you finish your delicious meal at Forte and still want some action, why not swing up to The Landmark? The Landmark has been heralded throughout Chautauqua County for exceptional dishes such as Rack of Lamb and the inventive Landmark Royale which consists of scallops and shrimp that are stir fried and then served over seafood risotto.
The long comfortable bar is presided over by exceptional bartenders who would be happy to make you a carefully crafted digestif or cordial to go with a mouth-watering dessert. There are many great desserts to choose from but popular favorites are the crème brulee and the unforgettable peanut butter pie tart.
Peek n’ Peak for a Lovers’ Retreat – Findley Lake, NY
This English Tudor styled ski resort is the perfect place to get away with your love to enjoy the slopes. With Peek’n Peak’s Stay & Ski/Ride packages you can pamper your partner without breaking the bank. Packages start at $249 and include lodging, a pair of lift tickets, pool passes, and a $30 dining credit.
After dark, enjoy romantic runs down their 26 lighted trails, which vary from the bunny hill to black diamonds like the Ox Bow. Tuck in to dinner and drinks at one of their many dining facilities. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a trip out to Pine Junction, a unique bar/restaurant that is nestled in the pines outside of Sherman, NY. They are known for having excellent craft beer on tap, generous portions of food and delicious BBQ. Then settle into your lodging back at The Peak and toast to your good fortune with a bottle of bubbly.
When you wake in the morning, the fun is far from over. The pool facility offers a full workout room and a breathtaking indoor/outdoor whirlpool. Additionally, you can sweat out some of the night’s debauchery in their sauna or swim some laps in their large indoor pool. Then, why not head to their Serenity Spa by Aveda™ for a couples massage.
Once you have recharged your batteries, it’s time to indulge again with their award-winning brunch buffet. The brunch includes your choice of complimentary Bloody Mary’s and Champagne but the real showstopper is the food. There is everything one could want from a hearty brunch, but save room for the menagerie of fresh baked desserts. Many visitors compare the brunch to the finest offered in regional cities such as Cleveland and Pittsburgh. After 24 hours of eating and playing at Peek n’ Peak you will feel renewed.
The Parkview and Five and 20 – Westfield, NY
Taking your special someone to Westfield, NY is a great idea for a romantic afternoon. The town is dotted with beautiful Victorian houses and has a classical feel that harks back to the days when the Welch’s grape company had their headquarters there. Right at home in this setting is The Parkview, a thoughtful restaurant on Main Street, which feels like a holdover from a bygone era when people were not in a hurry to eat and attention to detail was paramount.
Upon walking in you feel transported to a different realm partially by the classic lamps and sepia tone pictures displayed on the wall in brass frames. Every detail is well thought out from the lime green cloth napkins to the shimmering charger plates and elegant chandeliers. Stopping in for lunch means experiencing an array of staple sandwiches like their Rueben to more inventive fare like their Turkey and guacamole club, which is excellent by the way.
Soups are homemade on site in keeping with their tradition of gathering the finest and freshest ingredients. Lunch is excellent but dinner is an even greater spectacle. Make sure to call ahead for a reservation, especially on Valentine’s Day weekend.
After a fantastic lunch at the Parkview head on over to Mazza’s Five & 20 Brewing and Spirits, located in the heart of Lake Erie Wine Country. Mazza is the only brewery/distillery/winery in New York State and the friendly staff told me that they are one of eight such establishments in the entire U.S.
After entering the building, while walking toward their tasting room, you can see stills and other shiny stainless steel equipment that they use in their production process. The tasting room is a comfortable place where you can mingle with other revelers and discuss the finer points of their expertly crafted bourbon or the subtle complexity of their hearty Five and 20 Stout.
EBC West and The Brick Room – Fredonia, NY
Ellicottville Brewing Company has three unique locations, two of which are located right here in Chautauqua County. Bring your date to EBC West in the exciting village of Fredonia, NY, home of Fredonia State College. Enjoy a flight of six carefully crafted beers; you just may find your spirits lifted with each beer you hoist.
Almost directly across the street is The Brick Room, a favorite destination for many foodies. Exposed brick walls decorated with art by local artisans and pleasantly dim lighting make it a wonderful place for a romantic meal. The open kitchen is a comforting reminder that you are in the hands of professionals. The menu is a good balance of interesting and refreshingly short,
demonstrating that they have carefully chosen to feature dishes that are their very best offerings. They bolster their dinner menu with a bevy of mouth-watering specials. If you are looking for a dish that is exceptional, try the duck breast with bacon sautéed brussels sprouts garnished with a unique creamy sauce.
If you finish your meal and are still looking for excitement, you can amble next door to Coughlin’s Pub. The bustling bar has everything you need to enjoy a nightcap and perhaps meet some new friends.
Bellini Lounge and Webb’s Captain Table – Mayville, NY
Begin your evening with sophistication and a cocktail at the Bellini Lounge, located in the Chautauqua Suites Meeting and Expo Center. Tall padded chairs will invite you to cozy on up to the handsome and well-stocked bar. Order any drink your imagination can conjure, or try a popular favorite, Ruffino Prosecco with a splash of white peach, blood orange or raspberry liqueur. For those that are not familiar with Prosecco, the simplest way to describe it is a more fruity and flowery cousin to Champagne that hails from the village of Prosecco in northeastern Italy.
Reservations are always highly recommended for dining at Webb’s Captain Table, but essential for their annual Valentine’s Day Dinner Celebrations on February 11th and 14th. On any given evening, you can expect a menu highlighting regional favorites, hearty classics, refined flavor combinations and notably, grass-fed beef. The Valentine’s Day Dinner offers a complete experience: piano music, a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride, fresh chocolate strawberries and flowers for each couple in addition to a four course meal. Call well in advance to request a seat by the fireplace or in one of the private booths.
For more information on the restaurants, accommodations and attractions in Chautauqua County, visit www.tourchautauqua.com.
When he is not bartending or freelance writing, Loren Mayshark spends his time cooking and mixing cocktails for family and friends or attempting to get better at the often frustrating sport of golf. He is a regular contributor to The Jovial Journey, a website dedicated to food, drink, and travel in Chautauqua County and beyond.