BLUE STONE INN
When was the last time you enjoyed a meal in a restaurant that had been serving good food for four generations? That accurately describes the Blue Stone Inn on U.S. 11, north of Harrisonburg, Va. Before Interstate 81, U.S. 11 was the main pathway through the Shenandoah Valley. The Blue Stone legend began in the 1920s with a restaurant and a series of “camper cabins” providing a retreat for travelers visiting the Valley.
The Blue Stone Inn has been in the Olaschofka family since 1949 when Katharine and Ernest Olaschofka moved from New York City to Harrisonburg in search of rolling hills like their native Germany. The Olaschofka family had emigrated from Germany in 1919. Operating an inn and restaurant seemed like a natural fit since their background had been in the hotel business.
“Each succeeding Olaschofka generation added their own touch to the restaurant,” says Janet Olaschofka, the current Blue Stone manager. “My husband, Mike Olaschofka, introduced a menu of fresh seafood items, which is rare for this region,” she adds. “After my husband’s death last year, my son Tom assumed the duties as head chef and thus became the fourth generation to continue the family tradition of great food in welcoming surroundings.”
The first impression I had on entering the Blue Stone Inn was the very cordial and welcoming atmosphere. Candlelight accentuated a fireplace, as well as family and customer photographs and artwork on walls of dark paneling. It reminded me of what you would expect entering a restaurant or gathering spot in olden Europe. The very friendly staff also added to the experience.
As Janet indicated, the menu was weighted toward seafood; however, there were other items of steak, fried chicken and roast duck … something for everyone. I decided to concentrate my interest in dinner on the 15 different seafood selections. To say I was conflicted was an understatement. Janet recommended the softshell crab, which is a favorite. However, before arriving at the Blue Stone, a Cooperative Living reader suggested I try the trout. So I already had my taste buds conditioned for the trout. It is easy to see why I was conflicted, especially when I read that the top item on the menu was local rainbow trout stuffed with crabmeat.
To solve this gourmet selection, I asked if I could have the softshell as an appetizer and the trout as my entrée. The softshell was crispy on the outside and rich on the inside. The trout was baked to perfection with a delightful mixture of crabmeat. My dinner companion had the charbroiled salmon served with a side of mustard dill sauce. And, of course, we shared each other’s dish and I (as usual) liked her selection, also. Interestingly, it seems the older I get, my food likes list seems to be getting longer.
For dessert, I had hummingbird cake and my companion had a chocolate torte. The hummingbird cake, made with bananas and nuts, is a Blue Stone tradition and compliments the seafood entrées. I am a big fan of traditions, especially in handing down and sharing dining experiences.
After my visit to the Blue Stone Inn, it is easy to understand why it has been a favorite dining spot in the Shenandoah Valley for generations. As with any “dining road trip,” call ahead for directions, hours of operation and special menu items. n