Atmosphere: Homey country inn. Jackets required for men after 5 p.m.
Price range: Sunday buffet: $3.50 children, $5.95 adults. Regular menu: $3.95 for spaghetti to $8.75 for veal stew or sirloin steak.
Credit cards: Accepts major credit cards.
Reservations: A good idea.
Special facilities: Not easily accessible by wheelchair. Parking lot behind restaurant.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, noon to 9 p.m; Sundays, noon to 7 p.m.
Rumors reached us that Country Peddler Inn in Poolesville was having a winter lobster special: $6.95 for a pound-and-a-half Maine lobster. That was all the excuse we needed for a Sunday drive through Montgomery County.
We went astray and what should have been a half-hour drive from the Beltway at River Road to the inn turned into an adventure across two one-way bridges and a section of unpaved road. We had asked another family to join us and by the time four adults and four children arrived at the country Peddler Inn, we were cold, tired and very hungry. A cozy country inn was just the antidote.
The inn, located in an old house built crica 1935, has fireplaces in every room. The first two floors have been turned into dining rooms and each room boasted a roaring fire. The wooden tables and chairs are not the high gloss of a Williamsburg setting but have the rougher finish of a more rural setting.
Our group was seated upstairs where we adults shared a carafe of wine and made inquiries about the lobster.
Since this was Sunday evening, our waitress told us, a buffet for $5.95 per adult and $3.50 per child was available as well as the lobster dinner, wich was $6.95 for guests of any age and included baked potatoe and salad. The buffet offerings were beef stew, flounder, cauliflower, rice and corn bread plus a salad bar, cheese and relish trays, dessert and a beverage. One adult defected from the lobster ranks and tried the buffet. Our children, who have yet to be initiated into the glories of lobster, thought they were getting away easy by being allowed to try the buffet.
We all trooped downstairs for the salad bar which was a simple spread of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and some sliced meats. We picked up plain rolls although the hot cornbread on the buffet table looked good.
The buffet table, overall, looked and sounded dull, but the food turned out to be delicious. The beef stew was nicely seasoned, moist and soft with just the right amount of gravy and peas. The cornbread was superb as was the cauliflower. The flounder was moist and buttery.
Our lobster dinners, on the other hand, were okay but not in a class with the buffet food. The baked potato was badly overcooked. Moreover, the buffet dinner included beverage and desert of ice cream of German chocolate cake, while we lobster freaks had to pay extra for coffee, tea and dessert. We chose apple cobbler a la mode for $1.25 and peach melba for $1.45. Neither were as good as the German chocolate cake.
The Sunday buffet dishes sometimes change, with veal stew and chicken a la king among the alternatives.
On Monday through Saturday Country Peddler has and a la carte menu that offers seafood, at $6.25 to $8.50, chicken, ham, veal, steak and spaghetti, at $3.95 to $8.75. All entrees include salad, potatoes and vegetables.
The dinner for eight of us came to $54.25 for four lobster dinners, one adult buffet, three children's buffets, a carafe of wine, three desserts and coffee. If our family of four had all had the buffet dinner, the price would have been only $18.90, including dessert.
Our drive home was direct. We clocked 22 miles from the inn to the Beltway at River Road. If you decide to go to Country Peddler Inn, call for directions from Route 270 or take the River Road route. If you reach one-lane bridges and unpaved road, you'll know you've come too far.