Bell’s Mansion, Where Filet Mignon Is Served on a Sizzling Lava Rock

The vibrant restaurant occupies a 19th-century mansion in Stanhope, and serves up a delightful array of dishes and martinis with a scenic view.

Bell's Mansion Lava Rock Filet. Photo by Suzanne Zimmer Lowery

Bell’s Mansion is a stately old brick and stone home built by a local iron and mill baron dating back to 1835. Inside there are a number of cozy antique-filled dining rooms and a well-preserved, lengthy wooden bar that was salvaged from a Pennsylvania Hotel. In the warm weather, the action heads outside onto a two-tiered patio and bar surrounded by lush flower, fruit and vegetable gardens.

On a sunny evening, we settled into a table right next to aromatic rose bushes in full bloom and perused the cocktail menu of nearly two dozen martini variations while enjoying the sounds of a live guitarist. The full bar also serves an array of wines, sangria, draft beers and mixed drinks and features a happy hour from 3 to 6 pm every day of the week with great deals on drinks and appetizers.

Before we even got a chance to look at the menu, a basket of piping hot, crusty bread arrived, along with both salty butter as well as olive oil to tide us over until the appetizers appeared. Although we needed to ask for more sour cream for our potato, cheese and caramelized onion pierogies, the five large plump dumplings were a satisfying starter, along with a daily special of the tiniest sweet baby clams swimming in a briny broth flecked with slivers of salty chorizo sausage. The accompanying thick cuts of grilled bread allowed us to soak up and savor every last drop of the flavorful juices.

Bell's Mansion pierogies. Photo by Suzanne Zimmer Lowery
Crispy chicken sandwich. Photo by Suzanne Zimmer Lowery
Cedar Plank Salmon. Photo by Suzanne Zimmer Lowery

Unfortunately, that same thick cut of charred bread was a little too much to get our mouths around on the otherwise delicious crispy barbecue chicken sandwich, layered with jalapenos, creamy coleslaw and aged cheddar.

An ample portion of smoky, cedar-plank salmon was perfectly bronzed, but still juicy, although the light nap of lemon chardonnay sauce forced us to again ask for a little extra to enjoy with the mashed sweet potatoes and zucchini.

The sun was beginning to set over the gardens when the true star of the evening arrived in a literal blaze of glory. The ‘outdoor only’ sliced filet mignon was paraded to the table leaving a trail of smoke, as it cooked atop a three-inch-thick slab of sizzling lava rock. Each delectable piece went straight from searing to sampling in a matter of seconds, along with garlic butter, and a side plate of creamy mashed potatoes and fresh-grilled zucchini and squash.

We were too full for dessert before strolling down the block to enjoy a nationally-recognized musical act at the nearby Stanhope House venue to complete a lovely summer evening.

Bell’s Mansion, 11 Main Street, Stanhope, 973-426-9977. Open for lunch and dinner, Monday-Saturday; brunch and dinner, Sunday.

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