Panorama at the Peak
Serving up local, seasonal delights, this Berkeley Springs restaurant offers a breathtaking view with a vision for the future.
The first time Chef Scott Collinash drove through the lush countryside of Berkeley Springs, he fell in love with the land. He had no idea then that this would soon translate into culinary art at a local farm-to-table restaurant, Panorama at the Peak—a restaurant with an amazing view and even better vision for the future. “When the owners opened the restaurant, they made a decision,” Scott says. “They would not have a restaurant unless it had fresh, local foods.”
Nestled on approximately 58 acres along State Route 9 on the north side of Cacapon Mountain, Panorama at the Peak boasts a scenic view of three states and two rivers that National Geographic calls “one of the five best in the east.” Constructed in 1929 of locally harvested timber and stone, the building’s interior has been updated with warm colors, plush carpeting, fanciful décor, and an “Itty Bitty Gift Shop,” featuring local arts and crafts.
Proprietors Leslie Hotaling and Patti Miller have been committed to promoting the rich, natural heritage of Morgan County since they opened the new restaurant six years ago. Dubbed a “green restaurant,” Panorama works to reduce its impact on the local environment by composting and recycling waste, conserving heat and energy, and working with local and national organizations like the Ecology Coalition of Morgan County, Local Harvest, and Slow Food USA to protect and restore the landscape as well as promote future sustainable farming practices.
For Scott, this issue was already close to his heart. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, he learned to appreciate the connection between human health and the health of the environment. His family produced and preserved much of its own food. What they couldn’t grow they often bought from local farmers. “It was always what I was used to,” he says. “I always had a love of fresh food and the farmer.”
This healthy focus is what creates Panorama’s unique, seasonal menu—shaped as much by the farmers and the landscape of West Virginia as it is by the chef himself. Because Panorama purchases most of its fresh, whole foods from farms within 65 miles, each week offers new meals that reflect the beauty and bounty of the state’s four seasons.
Scott’s menu often features dishes like French Onion Soup made with organic onions, vermouth, and sherry in a rich beef stock, topped with melted Provolone cheese; Drunken Mushrooms, flamed with sherry, simmered with heavy cream, and served over toast points; and their famous Turkey Croquettes made with heritage breed turkey served over local, apple-cranberry compote.
Scott says this constantly evolving menu is both a creative outlet and a way to live healthier. “More people are looking for healthy food,” he says. “The fact of the matter is, fresh produce and local, humanely raised meat are better for you.”
Bridgeport native Katie Hanlon couldn’t agree more. Panorama had always been a mystical milestone for her on her way to the beach, but after finally getting a chance to sit down and sample the fare, Katie was surprised. “What seemed like an old building that might just be serving New York strip steaks turned out to have a socially conscious and forward thinking cuisine. The owners really care about where the food comes from.”
A tapestry of farms, greenhouses, ranches, and vineyards come together to supply Panorama with its intensely flavorful provisions—from Blue Mountain Farm in Hedgesville, which uses sustainable practices to cultivate just five acres of land, to Border Springs Farm in Patrick County, Virginia, which raises sheep and heritage turkeys. Katie says, “It tastes good, and at the end of the day, that’s what most consumers care about.”
Panorama at the Peak, 3299 Cacapon Road, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411; 304.258.0050