Travel Guide PA: Bizarre Experience at the Conestoga Restaurant (Lancaster)

It’s rare that I ever refer to a restaurant experience as “bizarre”. Just as rare is me doing a second post in regards to a restaurant. I reviewed the Conestoga last year and gave them a solid 3.5 star rating. My friend and I were there Friday night outside on the deck. It was a beautiful night as the temperature was crisp and there were hardly any bugs. I checked out a seemingly new whiskey menu before settling for my go-to Scotch which is Johnnie Walker Black Label. He had something called a Sangria Margarita. I ordered my drink and the waiter said, “We were out of that two weeks ago, let me check to make sure we still have it”. He disappeared for 15 minutes.

His next visit was empty-handed. “The bar is a little backed up. Your drinks are up next”. Five minutes later, there they were. My Scotch was a microscopic pour into a brandy snifter. I should have taken a picture of it but I was too annoyed. It was not even two ounces. An infant couldn’t have gotten a buzz if they downed it in one shot. But that was not the real problem: it tasted like Red Label. I’m not an expert, but I know enough to recognize the difference between Red and Black. The waiter disappeared again for another 15 minutes. Upon his reemergence, I said, “Are they sure that is Black Label? It tastes like Red.” He said that he did not see the bartender pour it, but it was Black Label and he would go double-check. Still waiting on food at this point. I shit you not, when he returned he said, “Sorry about the delay. The kitchen is backed up, but your meals are coming up next”.

Meals finally arrived…but no appetizer (we ordered the crab dip). I mentioned this and he darted for the kitchen but I said to just take it off the bill, which he did. He then came over one more time to reinforce what I was drinking was Black Label. I said pretty much the same thing as earlier and he responded, “Well, do you think the owners are up to something shady?” I said that I was not accusing anyone of anything, but that it tasted like Red Label. He stared at me in silence for a good five seconds before shrugging his shoulders. “It is what it is. Whatever.” was all I could muster. Thankfully he had the sense to not ask if I wanted another one. $10 for that.

We each had the “Brisket Nation” sandwich.

Meals were fine. Nothing outstanding—above average. Good sandwich, soggy fries. I don’t think I would ever go back again. It’s a shame because the building is historic, the menu has decent options, and the cocktail list is delectable. But this leaves a poor taste in my mouth. Again, this is not an accusation. Just a situation and a response. I thought it could have been handled with more grace.

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