Change at the Woodfield Manor
SWIFTWATER, Pennsylvania (ELFP) This isn’t a review of the Woodfield Manor Chophouse so much as a report of an experience my wife and I had with a restaurant that has been a favorite of ours for the last five years or so. It was a little strange, a little different, but a lot of fun.
Kathy was on vacation this particular Friday, and we decided to go out for dinner. To break the tie we both felt between the Blakeslee Inn and the Woodfield Manor, I went online to look over their respective menus, both to refresh my memory on the standard menus and to see if there were any specials that would tip the balance. I was startled by the Manor’s menu. It was unfamiliar, lacking the usual exotic game dishes, but also lacking my favorite, the Duck L’Orange. There was also the appearance of the name Frogtown Inn and Six Acres, another fine restaurant, but what was it doing here? In an effort to clear this up I called the listed number.
A gentleman named Casey answered the phone, and in answer to my query explained that the Frogtown Inn and Six Acres had taken over the kitchen. The menu reflected the no-nonsense entries of a true chop house I was told, and the prices were a little more affordable. I told him I was more interested in fine dining than low prices, and by the way, where was my duck? He said the transition was new and they would be making adjustments. They would have game nights, and if I really wanted duck he would get me duck. But could he make it like the previous chef? He said he was the sous chef, that he had worked for years alongside the previous chef, and he was confident he could make me happy. “I can have your duck next weekend, if you like,” he promised. I checked with Kathy and made the reservation for the following Friday. And as the week wore on, I had some trepidation about whether or not I made the right decision.
On the next Friday I called at 3:30pm – the restaurant opens at 5 – and asked for Casey. I was told he wasn’t in yet, but was there something my respondent could do for me. I told him about the reservation and the duck and asked if he knew whether Casey had followed through. He answered, “He did the next best thing. He told me about it. My name is Lyman and I’m the chef. I have your duck. And Casey made a sauce of orange and hoisin. I think you’ll enjoy it very much.”
We arrive at the restaurant and identify ourselves to the hostess. It was like the whole restaurant had been waiting for us. The bartender heard our name and called out a big, welcome hello. Our server knew what our entrée would be. There was warm bread and dipping oil in seconds, and after salad and some extra dry Stoli martinis, straight up and ice cold, out came the duck, mine with wild rice and grilled asparagus, Kathy’s with roast garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. And everything was delicious. The generous half duckling was glazed with a fabulous sweet-tangy orange sauce, the skin crispy, the flesh moist and tender. My grilled asparagus was crunchy but tender, the wild rice seasoned perfectly. Kathy had a similar reaction to her meal.
At different times during the meal both Chef Lyman and Casey the sous chef, came to our table to inquire about our reaction to the meal and to thank us for making the suggestion. They told us that when ordering our duck they made it part of an order of two dozen, and that the half-ducklings were quite popular and selling well. They were considering making them a regular part of the menu.
I don’t expect that the Woodfield Manor or any restaurant can make special meals for us or anyone else every time we visit. But it was nice that they were so very responsive on this occasion, and it made us want to return. Who doesn’t like being treated so specially?