If you are early enough, you may be lucky enough to get a seat at the counter in the Bird in Hand Family Inn Restaurant in Lancaster County Pennsylvania for breakfast. However if you are late, you will most likely be ‘relegated’ to a table in the main section of the restaurant. But let me assure you that this form of ‘banishment’ is by no means a punishment. Instead of getting up close and personal with the kitchen and wait staff and exchanging words with the locals, you will be ‘forced’ to look out onto the scenic byway of Route 340 and ‘subjected’ to the more than occasional sight of Amish buggies clip clopping their way along the road on the way to or from the town of Bird in Hand Pennsylvania.
We have all had the experience of dining in a hotel restaurant simply because it was convenient or it was included with our room rate and being disappointed with the result. This particular restaurant overthrows that in a big way. Apart from the homely feel that you have as soon as you walk in, thanks in no small part to the aforementioned counter and the display of local arts, crafts and history books you are immediately struck by how lively it is, yes it’s busy, but not in an energy sapping headache inducing city way, more like a bustling country kind of way.
Wait staff zip back and forth between tables, exchange conversation with the patrons and make themselves heard above the hum of the diner to talk to the kitchen to check on and give orders. The patrons themselves are a virtual patchwork of the local community. Even the most casual observer will pick out local farmers, businessmen and women, families and others, who with a little imagination, at least this is how I did it, might be the local real estate agent, teacher or librarian. I was very surprised to see an Amish man sitting up at the counter in his plain clothes alongside other farmers. His presence didn’t appear to be causing any interest amongst the locals and he was probably doing nothing different to what he did every other day, having breakfast with his fellow farmers and exchanging the latest views or news on rain fall or stock feed.
The homely feel is added to by the attentiveness and friendliness of the staff. All of whom wear a badge displaying how many years of service they have had in the restaurant. Very few badges showed less than ten years, several were above 15 and we even saw one which was for 26 years. The staff obviously enjoy what they are doing and could be seen engaging in their own side conversations but never seeming to lose sight of the requirements of their guests.
Have I mentioned the food yet? After all this is the reason that most will frequent a particular restaurant or eatery. Let me tell you, the food is fantastic and plentiful for very reasonable prices. Being foreigners, we particularly enjoyed the local dishes especially the desserts; and yes we did go there for more meals than just breakfast. New favourites for our family now include Shoo Fly Pie and Whoopie Pie.
Great food in a family friendly atmosphere for a great price with a smattering of local colour, what else is there to do but enjoy, now where did I put that menu? I’m in the mood to daydream again, mmmm I wonder if they deliver – to Australia!
Where is it?
2760 Old Philadelphia Pike
Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505