Skip to main content

McCoole’s at The Historic Red Lion Inn – From A Century of Restaurants by Rick Browne/ Andrews McMeel Publishing, LCC.

Aug 15, 2014 03:07PM, Published by Erica Shames, Categories: Travel, Shop+Dine




Quakertown, PA
Est. 1750

One of the most famous features of this historic inn is a small section of the dining room floor. But before we get into that, let’s talk about its role in the Revolutionary War, and the time it served as a resting place for the Liberty Bell. Yes, the genuine, yet-uncracked Liberty Bell.

Walter McCoole opened his small tavern in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, in 1750. The area was beginning to attract a lot of settlers, many of them Quakers. In 1876, a book about the history of Bucks County observed: "It was probably called Quakertown from the first, possibly as a slur upon the Friends who settled it; and very likely was first called 'the Quake's town.' In this time Walter McCoole kept tavern at the cross-roads ... and built one of the first mills in the township."

During the Revolutionary War, the tavern became the center of a historic rebellion by Germanic Pennsylvanians against a tax imposed by the federal government to fund a possible, some said imminent, war with France. The taxes were based on real estate and slave ownership. Since there weren’t a lot of slaves in the state, the burden fell on homeowners, with the taxed value based on the number and size of the windows in their homes.

When tax assessors were harassed, intimidated, and threatened with jail by local militia, the government responded by sending troops to capture and imprison the protestors. John Fries, the organizer, and several others were arrested, tried, found guilty of treason, and sentenced to hang.

The gallows happened to be across the street from the Tavern, where they had held organizational meetings. But two days before the execution, President John Adams pardoned them.

In 1810, the inn added two rooms and expanded the kitchen. In 1865, more rooms were added as the new railroad began bringing in potential customers to the area. Today’s owner, Jan Hench, brought the Red Lion back to its former glory, even turning their old stables into McCoole’s Arts and Events Place, with room for large meetings and gatherings.

The menu spans history and geography, with foods from Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean, the Deep South, the Eastern states, the Caribbean, and the Southwest. Of course, you can also order tavern fare such as burgers, finger foods, a wide variety of steaks, and pasta. They have twenty-five or so tap or bottled beers to wash it all down.

In a beefy mood, I ordered the Tournedos au Cognac, which are pan-seared in butter, slathered with demi-glace, and flamed with Cognac, then topped with a mountain of delicious hickory-smoked mushrooms. I had room for their Warm Bavarian Apple Torte, with fire-roasted apples and buttery pastry, made even more decadent with a large scoop of cinnamon-caramel ice cream.

While sitting in the dining room, I looked out the window and thought I spotted the Liberty Bell right across the street. It is a duplicate, put there to commemorate the real bell’s visit in 1777. When it seemed as if the British would capture Philadelphia (which they did), the bell was moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and hidden—the fear being that the redcoats would melt it down for cannonballs to use against the Colonial army. On the way to its hiding place in an Allentown church, the famous bell briefly rested in Quakertown, right across the street from the Red Lion.

And that famous floor? From 1939 to 1942, Erick Knight, an English-American author, sat in the dining room. When his wife’s dog was killed by a car, he bought her a new puppy—which soon bonded with him and became his shadow for nine years. He began writing a book about her, typing notes while she happily slept beside his chair at home, or rode shotgun when he drove around town, did chores, or just wanted to get away from the typewriter. And when she was good, he took her to his favorite restaurant, the Red Lion Inn, and he bought her a raw When tax assessors were harassed, intimidated, and threatened with jail by local militia, the government responded by sending troops to capture and imprison the protestors. John Fries, the organizer, and several others were arrested, tried, found guilty of treason, and sentenced to hang. The gallows happened to be across the street from the Tavern, where they had held organizational meetings. But two days before the execution, President John Adams pardoned them. In 1810, the inn added two rooms and expanded the kitchen. In 1865, more rooms were added as the new railroad began bringing in potential customers to the area. Today’s owner, Jan Hench, brought the Red Lion back to its former glory, even turning their old stables into McCoole’s Arts and Events Place, with room for large meetings and gatherings. The menu spans history and geography, with foods from Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean, the Deep South, the Eastern states, the Caribbean, and the Southwest. Of course, you can also order tavern fare such as burgers, finger foods, a wide variety of steaks, and pasta. They have twenty-five or so tap or bottled beers to wash it all down. In a beefy mood, I ordered the Tournedos au Cognac, which are pan-seared in butter, slathered with demi-glace, and flamed with Cognac, then topped with a mountain of delicious hickory-smoked mushrooms. I had room for their Warm Bavarian Apple Torte, with fire-roasted apples and buttery pastry, made even more decadent with a large scoop of cinnamon-caramel ice cream. While sitting in the dining room, I looked out the window and thought I spotted the Liberty Bell right across the street. It is a duplicate, put there to commemorate the real bell’s visit in 1777. When it seemed as if the British would capture Philadelphia (which they did), the bell was moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and hidden—the fear being that the redcoats would melt it down for cannonballs to use against the Colonial army. On the way to its hiding place in an Allentown church, the famous bell briefly rested in Quakertown, right across the street from the Red Lion. And that famous floor? From 1939 to 1942, Erick Knight, an English-American author, sat in the dining room. When his wife’s dog was killed by a car, he bought her a new puppy—which soon bonded with him and became his shadow for nine years. He began writing a book about her, typing notes while she happily slept beside his chair at home, or rode shotgun when he drove around town, did chores, or just wanted to get away from the typewriter. And when she was good, he took her to his favorite restaurant, the Red Lion Inn, and he bought her a raw steak which she gobbled right off the floor beside his favorite table. She must have been on her very best behavior many times, because she ate so many steaks there that the flooring began to deteriorate and it eventually had to be replaced for safety and sanitation reasons.

Inns, taverns, and restaurants all over the country brag that “George Washington slept here,” or “Ernest Hemingway drank here,” and so on. But the Red Lion upstages them all. The book Erick wrote was, and is, perhaps the most beloved canine yarn ever. And his four-legged pal became the role model for a dozen movies, a radio series on ABC and one on NBC, a dozen TV series, and sixty more books. Which makes McCoole’s Red Lion Inn the only place in America that proudly proclaims: “Lassie Ate Here!”

 

Tournedos au Cognac – From The Historic Red Lion Inn, Quakertown
Serves 2 to 4

¼ cup olive oil
1 (32-ounce) beef tenderloin, cut into 16 medallions
¾ cup Cognac or brandy
1 ½ cups hickory-smoked mushrooms (see Note)
2 cups beef or veal demi-glace (see Note) 
2 parsley sprigs or minced fresh chives, for garnish

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the medallions, in batches if necessary, for 1 to 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Using tongs, transfer the medallions to a heated platter and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the Cognac to the pan, being careful with the resulting flam-up, and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook to reduce the liquid to about ½ cup.

Add the mushrooms and demi-glace and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Divide the medallions between two or four plates and spoon the mushroom mixture on top. Garnish with parsley or chives and serve at once.

NOTE: If you don’t want to smoke your own mushrooms, you can substitute any unsmoked mushroom. You can buy demi-glace in jars at specialty foods stores. The Red Lion makes its own.

From A Century of Restaurants by Rick Browne/ Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Susquehanna Life's free newsletter to stay informed



Travel


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    03/30/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • The Women's Center Show

    03/30/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    The Exchange Gallery collaborates with The Women's Center on an exhibition of work by TWC clients...


  • Virginia Derryberry

    03/30/2017
    02:00PM — 07:00PM

    Virginia Derryberry’s large-scale figure paintings and costume constructions blend narrative elem...


  • iMake Classes

    03/30/2017
    04:30PM — 06:00PM

    This new a-la-carte class series offers both art and science projects for children ages 6-12. Wig...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    03/31/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • The Women's Center Show

    03/31/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    The Exchange Gallery collaborates with The Women's Center on an exhibition of work by TWC clients...


  • Part of Coal Collections Series Noon Lecture Series: The Creation of Anthracite Fields Fri...


  • Exhibit: One Ground Beetle

    03/31/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    This exhibition is a collaborative pairing of haiku poems by Melody Davis and prints by Harold Lo...


  • Virginia Derryberry

    03/31/2017
    02:00PM — 07:00PM

    Virginia Derryberry’s large-scale figure paintings and costume constructions blend narrative elem...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    04/03/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • The Women's Center Show

    04/03/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    The Exchange Gallery collaborates with The Women's Center on an exhibition of work by TWC clients...


  • Infectious Intelligence Club

    04/03/2017
    05:00PM — 07:00PM

    Monthly on the first Monday 5-7p.m. $120.00 ($108.00 for members) 8 sessions: October 2016 to Ma...


  • Adobe Photoshop

    04/03/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Adobe Photoshop DES 152, Monday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credit, $460 Laurie F...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    04/04/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • The Women's Center Show

    04/04/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    The Exchange Gallery collaborates with The Women's Center on an exhibition of work by TWC clients...


  • SEE Art Salon

    04/04/2017
    01:00PM — 02:00PM

    Topic: The Art of the Ballet of Sleeping Beauty Facilitator: Simon Ball, CPYB Open to those who...


  • Virginia Derryberry

    04/04/2017
    02:00PM — 07:00PM

    Virginia Derryberry’s large-scale figure paintings and costume constructions blend narrative elem...


  • Content Creation & Digital Storytelling

    04/04/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Content Creation & Digital Storytelling SM 105, Tuesday, January 31 - April 4 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., ...


  • James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution

    04/05/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution—a brand new exhibit—will challenge what visitors think they...


  • The Women's Center Show

    04/05/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    The Exchange Gallery collaborates with The Women's Center on an exhibition of work by TWC clients...


  • Exhibit: One Ground Beetle

    04/05/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    This exhibition is a collaborative pairing of haiku poems by Melody Davis and prints by Harold Lo...


  • Virginia Derryberry

    04/05/2017
    02:00PM — 07:00PM

    Virginia Derryberry’s large-scale figure paintings and costume constructions blend narrative elem...


  • Insights, Analytics and Strategies for Digital Marketing and SEO SM 102, Wednesday, February 1 -...


  • Adobe InDesign

    04/05/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Adobe InDesign DES 154, Wednesday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credit, $460 Nancy ...


  • 2017 Lions Club Pancakes & Sausage

    03/30/2017
    08:00AM — 02:00PM

    Mouth watering pancakes topped with melted butter, tender sausage roasted to perfection; now add ...


  • 70th Annual Pennsylvania Maple Festival

    03/30/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    The Pennsylvania Maple Festival is an annual event in Meyersdale, PA to celebrate spring, the tap...


  • Quilt Show

    03/30/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    he Quilt Show is open to the public throughout the festival. Some items are for sale. This h...


  • Quilt Show

    03/31/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    he Quilt Show is open to the public throughout the festival. Some items are for sale. This h...


  • Part of Coal Collections Series Noon Lecture Series: The Creation of Anthracite Fields Fri...


  • The Legend of the Magic Water

    03/31/2017
    01:00PM

    The Maple Festival would be incomplete without the colorful pageantry and song of "The Legend of ...


  • 2017 Lions Club Pancakes & Sausage

    04/01/2017
    08:00AM — 04:00PM

    Mouth watering pancakes topped with melted butter, tender sausage roasted to perfection; now add ...


  • Antique, Street Rod & Classic Car Show

    04/01/2017
    09:30AM — 11:30AM

    The Car Show made its debut at the Maple Festival in 1961 Since that time, the car shows have ...


  • 2017 Quilt Show

    04/01/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    he Quilt Show is open to the public throughout the festival. Some items are for sale. This h...


  • Grand Feature Parade

    04/01/2017
    01:00PM

    You won't want to miss the Pennsylvania Maple Festival's Grand Feature Parade! For 2017 the p...


  • The Legend of the Magic Water

    04/01/2017
    04:00PM

    The Maple Festival would be incomplete without the colorful pageantry and song of "The Legend of ...


  • 2017 Lions Club Pancakes & Sausage

    04/02/2017
    08:00AM — 04:00PM

    Mouth watering pancakes topped with melted butter, tender sausage roasted to perfection; now add ...


  • 70th Annual Pennsylvania Maple Festival

    04/02/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    The Pennsylvania Maple Festival is an annual event in Meyersdale, PA to celebrate spring, the tap...


  • The Pageant

    04/02/2017
    09:00AM

    High School senior girls from across Somerset County compete for $5500.00 in various cash or scho...


  • 2017 Truck & Motorcycle Show

    04/02/2017
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    For the third consecutive year, the Pennsylvania Maple Festival will devote the first Sunday of t...


  • 2017 Quilt Show

    04/02/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    he Quilt Show is open to the public throughout the festival. Some items are for sale. This h...


  • Exhibit: One Ground Beetle

    04/05/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    This exhibition is a collaborative pairing of haiku poems by Melody Davis and prints by Harold Lo...


  • Shaolin Warriors

    04/06/2017
    07:30PM

    "... they combine the agility and grace of gymnasts with the showmanship of Cirque du Soleil perf...


  • Rossini's bubbly L'italiana in Algeri Overture will open the performance with quiet pizzicato bui...


  • THROW IT TOGETHER!

    04/12/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Wednesday, April 12 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Using various pre thrown forms, students will learn ho...


  • Banff Mountain Film Festival

    04/14/2017
    07:00PM

    From adrenaline-fueled action sports, to an exploration of wild landscapes and remote mountain cu...


  • Exhibit: One Ground Beetle

    04/21/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    This exhibition is a collaborative pairing of haiku poems by Melody Davis and prints by Harold Lo...


  • “Bridges Over Troubled Water”

    04/22/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    What’s better than Earth Day with friends? Earth Day with friends, wine, covered bridges, and gre...



PROUDLY BROUGHT TO YOU BY THESE COMMUNITY SPONSORS


Weis Center for the Perfoming Arts
Albright Care-Services
Geisinger Medical Center