WE HEAR much about the Asian and Central American influx that has stocked our suburbs with interesting restaurants. More quietly, though, there has been a multiplication of German and Austrian restaurants in the countryside. The Bavarian Inn and Lodge of Shepherdstown, W. Va., has been around for years, ever since its owners exchanged their Chevy Chase restaurant for this country inn. Newer, though, is the Schmankerl Stube Bavarian restaurant in Hagerstown, Md. And now Coolfont, in Berkeley Springs, W. Va., is advertising a Bavarian buffet Thursday nights.
But not all the activity is in Maryland and West Virginia. The Battletown Inn in Berryville, Va., has been given a new Austrian accent by Josef and Nadja Vyoral, who formerly ran the Mozart in Charlottesville.
THE OTHER shoe has dropped: I've already reported that Morrison-Clark Inn had a new chef, but didn't know where its former chef, David Fye, had gone. He's taken a position as corporate chef of the Classic Collection. That restaurant group includes the Sea Catch in Georgetown, the Henley Park Hotel, the State Plaza Hotel and Hotel Lombardy also in Washington, and the Wayside Inn in Middletown, Va.
BERLIN, MD., is a long distance to go for dinner (it's eight miles this side of Ocean City), but the Atlantic Hotel has sweetened the pot with special theme dinners and bargain-priced accommodations.
Jan. 29 is a black-tie dinner of six courses, including lobster in jelly and duck cassoulet, teamed with a half-dozen of the best wines available from the Wine Spectator's top 100 wines of 1990, all for $75. Overnight accommodations would add another $43.20 to the bill. Valentine's Day dinner for two with overnight accommodations is $99 a couple (not including alcoholic beverages). And weekday getaways are $135 a couple for two nights and one dinner for two -- $195 on weekends through March.
For those prices you get chef Steven Jacque's much acclaimed cooking and some of the most charming Victorian guest rooms -- with crocheted bedspreads or quilts -- that you will ever find.
CLOSER TO HOME, many restaurateurs are coming up with recession gimmicks to draw in customers who are watching their expenses more closely.
Bistro Bistro in Shirlington has the most original so far. In addition to cutting its menu prices so that 90 percent of its dinner entrees are under $12.95, it's awarding free entrees to everyone in the restaurant at a particular pre-selected moment between 6 and 10 p.m. on a particular Tuesday of each month. The dates and times will, of course, be a secret until the moment arrives. This diners' roulette will continue at least through April. So if you want a quiet dinner at Bistro Bistro, I'd recommend Wednesday.
Phyllis C. Richman's restaurant reviews appear Sundays in The Washington Post Magazine.