The 1863 is the Grand Dame of Elkins restaurants — an old school steak house that has been a part of this mountain town for decades. Very little has changed at the 1863, from the sign outside the tavern’s front door
to the attached motor lodge (the Elkins Motor Lodge, if you hadn’t guessed). A few months ago, the entire property was sold to new owners who want to give both the hotel (now the Isaiah Jackson, and don’t worry if you don’t who that it is because it is not a historic person) and the restaurant a facelift. The restaurant is currently open, but will close for renovations in months. The new menu is basically in place, though one very important holdover remains.
As I said, this is fundamentally a steak place with ribeyes, strips, filets and a few other assorted specials. Missy is pretty easy to sell on a steak, and the prime rib special looked good to me. Missy got the ribeye, rare, with onion rings and a side salad with blue cheese dressing.
(there is a steak in there under the rings). She said the dressing tasted homemade, but was very mild on the blue. That disappointed her, but we both guessed it was popular in Elkins. Just be warned. She liked the ribeye’s flavor and it was cooked properly (i.e. barely cooked). The onion rings apparently were cooked in the same oil as they used for a fried fish entree; she thought they tasted heavily of fish and basically gave up on them after one bite. (Missy here – I ate one ring which tasted ok but was super greasy; the second ring was so fishy tasting it was inedible. Silver lining: allowed me to finish my entire steak which was tasty.)
I ordered the prime rib special, with green beens and home fries.
The green beens had some significant chunks of tavern ham and the home fries were nicely crisp for large dials of potato, even if they could have used more onion. The prime rib was flavorable and not overly fatty; a very nice cut.
Every meal comes with 1863 toast, squares of garlic toast that are very crunchy. Entrees come with hot rolls (meh) and cinnamon rolls.
Once you get past the concept of “hey, I’m eating cinnamon rolls with a steak,” they are fabulous. Warm, sweet, with a nice cinnamon kick, but not overly gooey or sugary. I was very concerned that they had nuts and so insisted that Missy not have any; I fully expect to be thanked for my chivalry. (Missy again – I saw no nuts, but I don’t roll the dice on baked goods.) Honestly, they are absolutely delicious and I bet make a great dessert a la mode with ice cream (can you be a la mode with something else?).
Service is friendly, if a mite overly-familiar, and the prices are about what you would expect from a steak house (most cuts are in the $20-30 range, other entrees are cheaper). This place isn’t a bargain, but it isn’t outrageously expensive. I don’t think they have a website, but they do have a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/1863Elkins
Is it unique?
The 1863 (old owners) was added to the 2012 101 list after not making the cut for the original list. In 1950, this place would have been very traditional fine dining; in 2013, it is very old school, but still pretty good (onion rings aside). Plus, they have the cinnamon rolls, which I’ve not seen anywhere else. That is pretty much the definition of unique. I wonder if it will retain its character with the facelift and the new owners plan on adding a bakery that will sell the rolls 24/7 (which might make them a little too easy to get). I wouldn’t list this in my ten best places to eat in the state, but if you’re in the Elkins area and want a steak you should give them a try. And get extra cinnamon rolls for the ride home.