Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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The Accomac Firelight Night Dinner in York, PA–Experience Adventure 28 of 100

When my daughters and I decided to attempt 100 adventures during our 6 month sabbatical from our home in Texas, one of the rules we put into place specified that each experience must be NEW and different.  Obviously, since we are newbies to the east coast, every restaurant we visit is technically “original”, but I refuse to fill this exciting adventure list with a million mundane restaurants.

–Except, we found this extraordinary one.

For our 28th adventure, we experienced a fantastic Firelight Night dinner at the Accomac in York, Pennsylvania.

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With a long, winding history, dating back to the early 1700’s, the Accomac Inn overlooks the beautiful rushing waters of the Susquehanna River.  (It was raining and foggy on the evening we visited, but still gorgeous!)

Read about the history of the Accomac Inn here.

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The massive and commanding stone building sits to one side of the narrow road, nestled into the bottom of a timber-filled hill, facing a large parking lot along the water’s edge.

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Offering visitors the opportunity to dine only by candle light, the Accomac hosts “Firelight Nights” on select evenings from November to early March.  Charming and über romantic, the tiny flicker of soft candle light and a roaring fireplace fill the dining room with a peaceful glow and calming warmth.  No light bulbs.  No lamps.  No electricity generating light.  **I tried to take as many pictures as I could before the sun went down and I lost the light streaming in from the windows.

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Meticulously pressed, white table cloths drape the intimate tables and comfortable leather chairs allow guests a chance to relax and unwind in the Queen Ann dining room.

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Serving all kinds of delicious and artisan food since 1971, owner Doug Campbell and general manager Zach Seitz hired Jordan Crews in 2010, and promoted him to executive chef in early 2016.  Crews, born and raised in Lancaster, visits the Lancaster Central Market weekly, choosing fresh and local ingredients for his award-winning seasonal menu.

(The Lancaster Central Market was our 8th experience and is the country’s oldest farmers market!  Read all about it here!)

Our dimly lit journey began with a pleasant palette cleansing shooter of creamy pea soup and an assortment of breads.  I typically prefer to pass on peas, but this soup was exquisite and an excellent start to our meal.

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We ordered several items from each section of the menu as an opportunity to try interesting combinations and sample from each others’ plates.

The mushroom risotto, created with fresh, local mushrooms and served as a warm side dish, features Caputo ricotta en salata, (created locally by the amazing Caputo Brother’s Creamery–our 32nd experience! Review coming soon!)

Topped with watercress and truffle foam, the risotto melts in the mouth–We ordered two bowls!

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The potato gnocchi at Accomac reigns as possibly the most divine food I have ever eaten in my entire life.  Full of complex, delicious flavors, the gnocchi appeared surrounded by a very light and savory cream sauce, fresh greens, and earthy mushrooms.  I wanted more (and MORE!) and I hope to return just to eat this dish again.

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The full-bodied, umami beef stock showcased in the Accomac’s French onion soup made this menu “starter” my husband’s favorite dish of the evening.  Topped with caramelized, rich Swiss and provolone cheeses, the chef added a dollop of fresh scallions, a delightfully surprising, yet tasty garnish.

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Pierogi, a traditional central European-style dumpling, arrived with a topping of savory sautéed onions on a cushion of creamy sour cream sauce.  I almost loved it as much as the amazing gnocchi and my vegetarian daughter claimed this special, off-menu offering as her favorite.

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My meat-eating daughter ordered the Accomac beef tenderloin burger with bacon, melted cheese, horseradish mayonnaise, and topped with a house made Brioche roll.  A slab of fried potato wedges and fresh, crisp vegetables served as accompaniments.  Though my daughter enjoyed the burger, it seems out-of-place on the elegant menu.

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As a main entrée, I appreciate the freedom to order a vegetable-based meal–braised cabbage rolls, filled with a hearty rice and mushroom mixture and smothered with tangy, chunky tomatoes.  A variety of roasted root vegetables surrounded the dish and offered more flavor than the bland cabbage rolls.  I found myself wishing I ordered another serving of the delicious gnocchi!

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My husband chose the chicken roulade with garlic polenta, glazed carrots, charred savoy cabbage and a red wine infused pear.  Though he devoured the chicken and creamy polenta, he found the overpowering sweetness of the pear off-putting and not enhancing of the dish.

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The under seasoned and tasteless side of roasted Brussel sprouts brought the only real disappointment during our exquisite meal at the Accomac.  I don’t expect perfection, so the Brussel blunder can be overlooked.  (Though, as a sprout lover, I did have high hopes.)  They were very fresh and bright!

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At the end of the meal, we found ourselves too pleasantly full to properly enjoy any of the sweet offerings from the menu.  We chose to share one small, but heavenly treat–the sticky toffee pudding.  Topped with a luscious dolce de leche ice cream and drenched with a syrupy toffee sauce, this dessert completed a wonderful and satisfying candle-lit meal at the Accomac.

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Overall, our meal was wonderfully prepared and the staff at the Accomac welcomed and served my family in a professional and friendly manner, even though we brought our children to an obviously adult-centered, date-night event.  Eating a satisfying meal by firelight proved to be a joyful, unique and relaxing experience.

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The Accomac works with local Pennsylvania farmers and provides a list of menu food sources online, which I appreciate and rarely find.  See the list here. 

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Kudos to the Accomac Inn.  Thank you for serving fresh and local, farm-to-table food, which moves our society closer to sustainability and an overall healthier way of life.  My family will return for another wonderful meal before we move back to Texas.  (Please serve the gnocchi!)

The Accomac also serves Caputo Brothers Creamery cheese–which just happened to be our 32nd experience adventure!  Read all about it here!

The Accomac is located at 6330 South River Drive in York, Pennsylvania.

Lunch is served Monday-Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Dinner is served Monday-Saturday from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm. and on Sundays from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Sunday brunch is offered from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

***Reservations are recommended.

For more information, call 717-252-1521 or visit www.accomacinn.com

 

Looking for some original and new experiences in the great state of Pennsylvania?

Visit the National Watch and Clock Museum–read all about it here!

Click here and check out the Stroopie Co., a world changing social enterprise found at the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe.

Take a drive to Ten Thousand Villages in Mechanicsburg to buy all kinds of authentic, artisan-made, fair trade crafts and treasures from another global-impacting social enterprise.  Read what you need to know here.

 

Traveling to Illinois?  Put the Firefly Grill on your must-eat, farm-to-table restaurant list!  Click here.

 

 

 

 

 


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The Delicious Firefly Grill in Effingham, Illinois

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I live in Texas.

Serendipity lead me to find the BEST restaurant in Illinois by complete happy (mouthwatering) accident.

And, within the last 10 months, I have eaten there three times!

Are you road tripping through Illinois?  Add this unbelievable restaurant to your must-visit, travel agenda.

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In July of 2016, my husband and I made a quick and unexpected road trip from Chicago to Houston.  No pre-planning, color-coded itineraries, museum stops or kids…just me and my husband on the open road, in a hurry to get home to Texas.

We left Chicago around 4:00 p.m. and decided to drive until we were too tired to continue.  As we made our way along I-94 and then I-57 S, I saw a billboard advertising a farm-to-table restaurant.  I Goggled the name (Yea! for the internet and cell phones and the all-mighty Google) and my husband and I agreed we would stop there for dinner.  (We do not eat fast food and we were THRILLED to have a fresh dining option!)

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Instantly, we knew we stumbled upon something special.  The rustic, natural wood, relaxing front porch, and open, outdoor seating welcomes guests, especially weary travelers looking for the perfect meal and an opportunity to unwind.

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As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I spotted the beautiful garden to the right of the main building.  In all of it’s summer glory, it was magnificent!  Farm-to-table…with the farm right there!

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The menu…the fresh food…the garden…the ambiance…

We ordered several appetizers, two entrees and two desserts.  Yes, it was just the two of us…we like to indulge once in awhile.  No judging.  Of course, this was long before I started this blog.  I took pictures of the land and building, but unfortunately, the AMAZING food was completely devoured without being photographed.

My husband and I took our time enjoying everything the Firefly Grill offered.  We were in no hurry to get back on the road. Blissfully satisfied and in a complete food coma, we reserved a hotel room right in Effingham that evening.

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Lucky for you, my son lives in Chicago and my family took a return road trip to Illinois in May of 2017.  Firefly Grill was placed at the top of the must-do, color-coded itinerary–TWO stops in fact–one on the way into Chicago and the other, on the way back home to Texas.

***When your all-time FAVORITE restaurant is 886 miles from your front door, you gotta make a BIG effort to eat as much and as often as humanly possible.  No judging.

And the good news:  This time, I took pictures of EVERYTHING.  You are welcome.

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The Firefly Grill delivers a fresh, farm-to-table, sustainable and environmentally responsible menu that changes often and reflects seasonal availability.  The commitment to conscious dining is reflected not only in their food, but also in the abundant reclaimed barn woods, recycled steel, composting practices, thoughtful irrigation from the on-site pond and an unwavering dedication to using non-chemical gardening practices.

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Using a simple philosophy, “Source the best ingredients possible and stay out of their way”, Chef Niall creates uncomplicated, distinctive, and original dishes in an expedition style kitchen.

The main dining room is modern casual, with dark chocolate wood floors, comfortable leather seating, cool cobalt blue glassware, single bulb pendant lighting and a full bar.

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Billowing drapery and a warm, gentle color scheme creates a home-like and welcoming setting.

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Large plate glass windows and doors showcase a relaxing and peaceful outdoor setting, tempting visitors to dine alfresco, if the weather permits.  My family and I ate on the charming patio during all of our visits.

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Outdoor tables provide casual and comfortable seating, with several cushioned couches, woven chairs and cooling ceiling fans.  The porch offers a rustic and relaxing environment, where guests enjoy the tranquil views.

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The side patio faces a large grassy knoll, highlighting one graceful, willow-like tree.

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As the patio wraps around, tables and sofas sit above the banks of the peaceful Kristie Lake.

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YES!  Enormous and beautiful orange and black fish swim around in the lake!

The environment and the ambiance are reason enough to visit this amazing restaurant.  It is a breathtaking oasis with a family-friendly, peaceful and relaxing vibe, full of environmentally responsible actions.

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However, it is the simple, fresh, locally sourced and sensational food that impressed my family the most and stamped Firefly Grill with the honor of being my new favorite restaurant, even if it is 886 miles from my house.

Firefly Grill offers diners a diverse menu showcasing ingredients, vegetables and herbs grown onsite.  The restaurant combines great food with a peaceful location.  It is the perfect farm-to-table example of what fresh and responsible dining should be and could be in our country.

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Because meals are prepared when ordered, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and allergen-friendly requests are welcomed and easily created.  Every staff member we encountered was knowledgeable, helpful and attentive, producing a professional team and family community within the restaurant.

Below are several pictures of the yummy menu when we visited in May of 2017.  Remember friends, this is a farm-to-table restaurant with a focus on serving seasonal, available and responsibly sourced food, so this menu will change as often as needed and that is what makes this place so incredible!

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The menu boasts all kinds of delectable options:  soups, salads, small plates, pizzas, sandwiches, entrees, sides, desserts, coffees, after dinner drinks, as well as beer and wine.

Honestly, we wanted to try it all!

So what did we eat?  No judging…remember?

During one visit, I ordered the Firefly Garden Salad, which was full of crispy mixed greens (from the onsite garden!), tiny sprigs of dill, roasted red and gold beets, a crunchy and tangy goat cheese croquette, all lightly tossed with white balsamic.  Bright, fresh, and delicious!

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I ordered the Wedge Salad during our second visit.  It was a perfectly portioned plate of crisp iceberg lettuce, a sprinkle of Applewood smoked bacon, green chives, soft bleu cheese crumbles and a drizzle of creamy dressing.  Traditionally, this salad also comes with fresh red tomatoes, but I ordered without.

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My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the fried morel mushrooms (which are only available for a limited time) served with chili lime aioli and a zesty dill ranch.  It was the BEST ranch dip I have EVER tasted.

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As you can see, I practically licked the ranch bowl.  Maybe I did…maybe I didn’t…there is no proof…

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My husband ordered the Fish-n-Chips–fresh and crispy pieces of Atlantic cod, bold Guinness Stout, malt vinegar, served with firefly tartar sauce and French fries.  He loved the fish and the tartar sauce was divine.  I finished off his fries by dousing them in malt vinegar and dredging through the tangy tartar.  (My mouth is watering as I type this sentence!)

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Below is a picture of the Cave-Aged Gruyere Burger, served with red onion jam, boursin, delicious gruyere, a Portobello mushroom, and crunchy homemade onion rings.  Full of savory flavors, original and tempting!

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The Portobello Veggie Burger was the perfect option for my vegetarian daughter–a large Portobello mushroom, green pesto, juicy tomato, topped with micro-greens and chevre boursin, all served on a grilled bun with French fries.

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Firefly Fish Tacos were accompanied by a sweet chili slaw, pineapple pico de gallo, fresh sliced vegetables, all scooped into grilled flour tortillas and presented along side several appetizing sauces.  My daughter’s favorite component?  The fresh and tangy pineapple pico de gallo!

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We ordered the Beer Cheese & Pretzels as an appetizer during both of our May visits.  Yes, it was marvelous!  Yes, it was delicious!  Yes, I wish I was eating it right now!  Warm, house-made beer cheese, house-made pretzel bites, grilled to crispy perfection (but still soft and chewy on the inside), sprinkled with flaky snowflakes of salt…pure heaven.

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I love Brussels sprouts.  If I see them on a menu, I always place my order.  Below is a picture of the Brussels served at Firefly Grill:  fresh Brussel sprouts, tossed with bacon and shallots.  To be 100% transparent and honest, this dish was a little bland for my inappropriate and excessive love of sprouts, but I rarely expect perfection, so all is forgiven.  These were ordered as a side dish.

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My husband devoured the Firefly Steak Burger which is prepared with bacon, caramelized onion and mornay, all topped with a local sunny side up egg and presented on a chewy pretzel bun.

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I know what you are thinking–“There is NO WAY these people left any room to try the desserts…bummer!”

But, fear not my little friends!  When we indulge, we GO BIG OR GO HOME!  No quitters here.

So, on to desserts!

Try the Chocolate Valrhona Cake if it is available during your visit.  The yummy chocolatey dessert blends layers of valrhona cake and milk chocolate mousse into a splendid confection, presented with craters of caramel sauce and usually served with house-made espresso ice cream.  I switched it up and chose to order my cake with salted caramel ice cream instead.  (PS–How cute is this wooden plate?!? Not only did I love this dessert, but I LOVED the plate.  I did not EAT the plate…I just appreciate the pleasing aesthetic feeling that it brought to the party.)

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I also recommend the amazing and seasonal firefly ice cream.  Nothing beats a fresh, in-house made, creamy frozen dessert.  There were 5 or 6 flavors to choose from and the salted caramel was my favorite.  I ordered it during both of our May visits.

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Firefly Signature Shooters combine delightful and manageable portions of yummy desserts–a perfect way to quiet a sweet tooth after an enjoyable meal.

These sweet options include Caramel Cookie with dulce de leche and oreo filling, s’mores with spiced pound cake, cheesecake with strawberry preserves, butterscotch pudding with a chocolate crumble and a passion fruit mousse.

My daughter ordered the chocolate espresso, featuring espresso soaked devils food cake, a chocolate cremeux and topped with a dark chocolate crumble.

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espresso soaked lady fingers assemble a perfectly indulgent dessert, hugged between
house-made toffee and fluffy whipped cream.

 

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The Firefly Grill delivers.  It delivers on freshness, flavor, ambiance, service and originality.  In the open, American heartland, this restaurant brings sustainable, farm-to-table food to diners seeking seasonal, responsible and modern cuisine.

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Executive Chef Niall Diarmid Campbell II and his wife, General Manager Kristie, met in Puerto Rico and through an interesting turn of events, the couple opened Firefly Grill in 2006, in Effingham, Illinois.  Together, they have created an outstanding restaurant with the “feel of coming home” in the heart of the Midwest.

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The Firefly Grill is located at 1810 Avenue of Mid America, Effingham, Illinois, 62401.  The peaceful location creates a beautiful backdrop for weddings, private parties, dinners and events.

For more information, a list of food sources and farms, and current hours of operation, please visit their website at www.ffgrill.com or call (217) 342-2002.

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Want to learn all about my favorite museum in Houston, Texas?  Click here.

My fav museum in Oklahoma?  Glad you asked…click here!

I have a few favorites in Florida, too!  Check them out here and here.

Don’t worry…I have some favorites in Illinois…I will write those reviews ASAP.