For a weekend or one-day trip away, Clevelanders can't go wrong heading south down I-77 to Holmes County and Northeast Ohio's Amish country. Despite being just a few hours away, it's like visiting another land where time slows down and simple pleasures are savored.
Traveling Rt 39 east or west (easily accessible from I-77) offers visitors a nice overview of the shopping, dining and attractions found in Sugarcreek (The Little Switzerland of Ohio) and Walnut Creek.
One of the biggest draws for tourists is Amish cooking. Area residents and entrepreneurs recognize this and have responded accordingly; new dining places are popping-up all over the area, most featuring slow, home cooked comfort foods.
The original family dining prototype in Holmes County, Der Dutchman is a popular spot with locals and tourists alike. Now under the corporate umbrella of Dutchman Hospitality with locations throughout the county, Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek offers lovely overviews of the scenic Goose Bottom Valley.
Weekend crowds line-up outside for breakfast and dinner buffets featuring classics like warm cinnamon rolls, turkey dinner with all the trimmings, ham, slow-roasted beef and chicken pot pie. Meals are served family style and offer endless bowls of traditional side dishes such as stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn. Some family style meals include beverage and dessert.
There's also an ala-carte portion of the menu and a kid's menu for less hungry visitors.
On the eastern end of Rt 39 is Dutch Valley, a restaurant styled very much like Der Dutchman, owned by the same organization. In past years, Dutch Valley has offered food comparable in quality to that of Der Dutchman.
However, at a recent visit the restaurant was not up to par: in a family style dinner of turkey and meatloaf, the turkey arrived in strings, almost like pulled turkey, looking like schrapnel. The meatloaf was cold and dry and mashed potatoes, advertised as 'real,' appeared and tasted like those created from a box mix. It may have just been an off-day for Dutch Valley, or the restaurant may be going through some changes. Still wonderful were their signature cream pies, particularly the peanut butter variety.
Beachy's Country Chalet
For a Swiss twist on home cooking, visitors can't go wrong with Beachy's Country Chalet at 115 Andreas drive, in scenic Little Switzerland. Also featuring family style entrees, the menu includes wienerschnitzel, Schwein schnitzel, bratwurst and open-face reuben sandwiches.
Inn at Honey Run
Upscale dining is also available at the Inn at Honey Run, 6920 County Road 203 in Millersburg. They feature a dinner menu utilizing fresh locally grown produce and offering such eclectic dishes as butternut squash ravioli topped with sun-dried cranberries and honey-orange marinated grilled breast of duck. The Inn also serves breakfast and lunch, including a daily quiche special.
Chalet in the Valley
Also in Millersburg is Chalet in the Valley restaurant, off Rt. 39 on SR 557. Servers dressed in traditional Swiss attire provide steaming plates of Swiss and Austrian faresuch as fondue, stuffed cabbage, and four different varieties of schnitzel and sausages. A polka band can often be found entertaining the crowd from a second-story area. Chalet in the Valley is perhaps the only restaurant in the heart of Amish Country that's open on Sunday. They feature an all-you-can-eat buffet and limited menu that day.
Miller's Dutch Kitch'n
In nearby Baltic, off Rt 39 on Rt 93 sits Miller's Dutch Kitch'n, considered by many frequent visitors to be the best authentic Amish family restaurant. A staple since 1973, the Miller family insists on using only fresh ingredients and preparing dishes the same as they've done for decades.
The fare is much like mom or grandma would make without the pile of dirty dishes and pans afterwards.
These are but a few dining experiences available in the heart of Amish Country. Several other intimate family restaurants exist off the beaten path and visitors all have their particular favorites.