Are You Shakespearienced? To Ellwood City for a Loves Labour’s Lunch

fountain with decorative cherubs under overcast sky
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I:i) Cherubs in Olde Stonewall’s large garden fountain looking out towards the golf course and stone wall.

Cowards die many times before their deaths, Julius Caesar famously opines in William Shakespeare’s tragedy of the same name, the valiant never taste of death but once. (Julius Caesar, II:ii)

Your author a taste of death has yet to sample—but wander perilously closer to the kitchen each annum does he. Shakespeare, roundabout way as he might, enticed the same to a fine loves labour’s lunch.

With this simple invitation, to Ellwood City a voyage planned; the ensemble boisterous and profound. A prediction bold, for sure, but this meal does the great All-U-Can-Eat buffet in the sky maintain superior.

castle battlements behind stone wall
“This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto our gentle senses.”

Battlements the first thing the eyes divine. Rising from Lawrence County’s gently rolling hillsides, the imposing gray structure unmistakably a castle keep. Here in the highland just above Ellwood City, it’s a remarkable sight—even if faded the illusion has by the time one pulls into the giant parking lot out front.

Imposing against this winter of our … very predictable discontent’s bleak weather, Olde Stonewall, the name for both the ersatz castle and its accompanying golf course, may or may not be “olde”—opened in 1999, it did—but the stone be jest it is not. Seven hundred and fifty thousand tons of stone, true to Olde Stonewall’s history, make up lengthy walls that around the property run. Continue it does up along the hillside above the adjacent golf course.

suit of armor with directional sign to golf shop and rest rooms
This way to Ye Olde Golf Shoppe … and the king and queen’s thrones

Forsooth and forthwith did our merry band of hungry travelers at the entrance to Olde Stonewall arrive. Enormous be the 800-pound wooden doors outfitted each with dragon-shaped handle and details, born of fire at the castle’s construction. The building’s entrance is a stunner true betwixt fine carpentry and bronze work, its elegant adaptation of rescued Catholic church light fixtures, and the replica suits of armor, shields, and weapons that decorate the dark wood paneling that runs throughout.

ornate bronze door handle in shape of dragon
Stop dragon my heart around. Custom bronze door pulls at the entrance to Olde Stonewall
ornate chandelier under ceiling painted like blue sky with clouds
An ornate antique chandelier at the entrance to Olde Stonewall

If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die. (Twelfth Night, I:i)

Indeed, play on the group did and to Shakespeare’s Pub & Restaurant we were shown for the food of … lunch. ‘Twas for midday repast the foursome sought from afternoon’s grey light a pause. And O! what bountiful offerings were presented to even these knaves from Pittsburgh came.

The better part of valor is discretion, true, but how can an appetite’s natural yearnings be denied when Shakespeare’s “Castle Teasers” tempt the very limits of mortal tastebuds’ capacity for carnal pleasure? Would beer cheese are twin pretzel logs be requested? Perhaps the party would opt for the wings of hen, flavoured of garlic-Parmesan or dry ranch served. Cruel witches be the only explanation for the devilish debate that ensues pitting cocktail of Gulf shrimp against fried cheese with marinara aligned.

restaurant diners holding up plates with sandwiches and fried potatoes
“Praise us as we are tasted, allow us as we prove.” Heidi and Paul with meals fit for the queen and king they are.

A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. (Much Ado About Nothing, II:iii)

We’ll excuse The Bard’s gender-exclusive language as but peril of his age. For man is not alone when the offerings of Shakespeare’s Restaurant “From the Pantry” selection present themselves for delighted perusal and consumption be. To wit, Queen Heidi made not her enjoyment of the kitchen’s Castle Burger unknown. The lady doth not protest at all, if in meaning thou doth comprehend. Good Sire Paul—himself, a learned scholar of the form—accepted a chicken club, traditional not in the least, but a thrill nonetheless. On Mancini’s egg Kaiser rolls both sandwiches arrived adorned and with pickle spear paired.

What more can be said of the humble potato? Its starch as plain as air; its color that of the earth from which it is born. And yet for our company did surprise it make! Elevated at the hands of Executive Chef Andrew Davin, the pomme de terre is formed into corkscrews thick, to golden brown fried, and delivered as hot and steaming as a planet erupting. No less impressed by such a celestial visage were our diners at these sides of fries.

plate with large fish sandwich and broccoli salad
“Fishes live in the sea, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones.” Your author is but a court jester in real life; on this day he dined like a prince.

Fishes live in the sea, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones. (Pericles, Prince Of Tyre, II:i)

Ms. Orbit, herself favoring a harvest sought deep from the briny, engaged in Chef Davin’s shrimp Barsac and was no less pleased. The meal, a melange of the color tan, did not a charitable photograph make. In its accompaniment, however, Shakespeare’s French onion crock did surpass any expectation—it’s flavours rich and satisfying, piping hot and belly warming on this frosty day.

Your author cannot a generous fish sandwich dissuade. On Saturday last he was no more able to deny its temptation than in Lent’s siren season, a mere six salivating weeks hence. O! Why must Lent come but once a year? While I hope we shall drink down all unkindness every day, ’twas but he that sampled of Shakespeare’s ales. The gustatory ensemble it did complete in suitable fashion. No customer at this table was made to feel unsatisfied.

window with ornate ironwork looking out on golf course
“What light through yonder window breaks?” ‘Tis the East, and the shrimp Barsac comes with your choice of potato or soup du jour.

Praise us as we are tasted, allow us as we prove. (Troilus and Cressida, III:ii)

Razor thin be the line betwixt class and kitsch as it stretches across the fair acres of Olde Stonewall. Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge and perhaps an extra dose of the former would have enhanced the experience of the latter. The property’s fine millwork and legitimately delicious fare do not disappoint, but hard it is to overlook be truth of the situation, goofy by an standard.

Brevity is the soul of wit and the better part of valor is discretion, true. Your author claims neither attribute in his praise for a visit to Olde Stonewall—be it the final destination or side trip when travels take Orbit faithful north. Haveth a good tyme—and a fine meal at an expense faire—thou willst, but dodging duffers in warmer seasons may prove a task more treacherous than sublime.

Godspeed you travelers and curiosity-seekers alike! To Shakespeare’s Restaurant & Pub you go! Forget not to order the fries. They be the true sustenance of gods.

exterior of large building made to look like medieval castle
Olde Stonewall: where the tymes may be medieval, but the ample parking is handicap-accessible

Getting there: Olde Stonewall/Shakespeare’s Restaurant & Pub is at 1495 Mercer Rd. in Ellwood City. It takes ~45 minutes to get there from metro Pittsburgh. Check their web site for opening days and times.

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