By Anthony M. Fuda

OK, this month the BurgerGuyz needed a little getaway. Somewhere off the beaten path. Somewhere we could get some much-needed R & R, yet still enjoy a delicious burger.

And we found all of that – and more – at the Peter Allen Inn & Event Center, located in Kinsman. Originally built in 1821 by Dr. Peter Allen and architect Willis Smith, it is an event center with a three-room bed and breakfast. After years of renovations, current owner Richard Thompson opened the Peter Allen Inn in 2016, featuring the Kinsman Tavern, and Stone Courtyard, with it’s beautifully manicured grounds that are often used for weddings, baby showers or other events.

The Tavern and Courtyard were originally open only on Fridays for casual dining and live entertainment, but it went over so well, they opened Heritage Hall for a more elegant Chef-select lunch and dinner options – which features an ever-changing farm-to-table menu. With more and more people coming out for the Friday night dining and live entertainment, the Tavern is going to be expanded and is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

Chef Christian Schultz said of the food and burgers, “Here at the Peter Allen Inn, we aim to offer a true local farm-to-table experience. Sourcing as many ingredients as possible within a 150-mile radius. How that influences our burgers is rather interesting. Our meat comes from the Peter Allen Inn owners’ Heritage Hills Farm. The cows are grass fed and grain finished. The beef is ground and blended to my own specifications. Our blend is a mixture short rib, brisket and ground chuck. Our menu changes with the seasons. Every month we offer a new menu and with that a new burger. We use the burger as yet another means to showcase some of the wonderful produce we are lucky to have here in Ohio.”

Our waitress, Shauna Letcher, made sure we had everything we needed for our relaxing burger evening.

The menu changes depending on which farm-to-table items are in season.

We were lucky enough to have Chef Christian make all four seasonal burgers for us to try. Starting with the Heritage Hills Farm’s special blend and seasonal ingredients, the burgers are appropriately named:

· Spring Burger (spring onion, bacon marmalade)
· Summer Burger (goat Gouda, heirloom tomato jam)
· Fall Burger (roasted garlic aioli, confit peppers)
· Winter Burger (topped with pulled pork, smoked cheddar, pickled red onion, paprika mayonnaise)

All of the sandwiches are served on a Brioche bun with a side of truffle roasted fingerling potatoes.

We took a section of each of the burgers so we could sample them all. I am glad we did because each burger had its own little flavor difference. The burgers, as a whole, were cooked perfect – a strong sear on the top with a tender, flavorful pink center on the inside. The beef melted in your mouth. With each burger, you could taste the individual flavors, and as I chewed more and more, I really enjoyed how all the flavors blended together to create an overall flavor explosion.

I started with the Spring Burger and the bacon marmalade had me wanted to devour the entire burger. Then I took a bite of the Summer Burger and the goat Gouda had an amazing taste that made my taste buds scream for joy. I moved to the Fall Burger, and the roasted garlic aioli and confit peppers had a smooth flavor that really stood out. The Winter Burger was hearty and is the type of burger you could eat after a long day working in the elements. If I had to pick one, it would be the Summer Burger just because I like the taste of the goat Gouda and it really took the burger to another level for me.

Top to bottom, this is one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Fresh toppings, high-quality blend of meat, and cooked perfectly. The only drawback is the growing season in Ohio is not 365 days a year, so only one burger is on the menu at a time.

Eric enjoyed everything about the Inn, saying, “Talk about a place that is worth the drive! Beautiful scenery, an amazing history, and burgers that I cannot say enough good things about! I heard of seasonal items on a menu before, but literally naming the burgers after the four seasons of the year really is a clever idea. With each burger, the amazing chef truly captures the essence of the seasons in each bite. I understand why they are made only in the seasons for which they’re named. If I had to pick a favorite out of them, I’d have to go with all four!!! But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also give kudos to the Peppers and Oil we were served before our meal. Growing up in the Youngstown area my whole life, I was surprised when I learned the chef had never heard of the dish. I was, however, even more, surprised when I tasted them and found out he is a quick learner on how to make them right! They even go great paired on top of any of the burgers!”
JT looked over the grounds, and remarked, “Again, being the history buff, I was thrilled when Mr. Thompson personally gave us a tour of this nearly 200-year-old gem! It was immediately evident that the meticulous attention to detail he gave during the entire historic restoration was a labor of love. He pointed out all of the architectural beauty around each corner. The furnishings, the 7 original fireplaces, the exquisite, original wood molding that grows in beauty and complexity with each room entered. Incredible. The atmosphere and old charm of the tavern, itself, made our burger night a truly unique experience. And the burgers were incredible, also! Much more than I ever expected and my attempt at a description will not do them justice. Amazing job, Chef Christian! The tomato jam is to die for! One bite and you’ll get what I’m saying. A must try.”

After dinner, we opted for a little dessert, and JT noted, “”We would be doing our readers a disservice if we didn’t mention how much we enjoyed the delicious, freshly baked apple pie we sampled, that was prepared by the inn’s very own pastry chef.”

Well, we got our getaway, albeit for only a couple of hours, but they were a taste-bud tantalizing couple hours, featuring four very tasty burgers. This visit now gives us a reason to take the wives back for a weekend away. While they’re enjoying the foliage, we’ll be thinking about visions of delectable farm-to-table hamburgers.

When you go, ask Richard for a tour and let him regale you with the rich, and interesting, history of the Peter Allen Inn.

4 1/2 stars

Next month we announce the 2017 Burger of the Year. We have been going back and forth between Pondi’s, the Phoenix and Big D’s — and now the Peter Allen Inn just made this decision even more difficult. Stay Tuned…