Atmosphere: Unquaint colonial.
Hours: Noon to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
Price range: Lunch, $3.25; dinner, $5.50 and up; children's dinner menu, $2.75 to $3.
Credit cards: No.
Special facilities: Not easily accessible to those in wheelchairs; free parking lot in rear; booster seats and highchairs.
Along Rte. 7, past Leesburg, is pure country. The road darts through hills and valleys and through the towns of Hamilton and Purcellville and Round Hill.
Futher out, on the way to Berryville Winchester and the great beyond (I-81), Rte. 7 crosses the Appalachian Trail is well-marked and rises gently to the top of a mountain ridge, under giant trees and open sky. You can go as far as your family's stamina will take you.
But when you climb down and stagger back to your car, you can count on being hungry. Country food that sticks to the ribs is just what you need and what our family got at the Battletown Inn in Berryville, a few miles west of the trail on Rte. 7.
The restaurant is in an old house, circa 1770, that has been touched up so that it's neat and clean, although not faithfully restored. The fireplaces in the dining rooms have been plastered in and the dining tables are red formica. The wood floors, the faded, flowered wallpaper and pseudo-gaslight fixture lend some charm. Our children found the lack of antique grandeur comforting: They preferred not to be surrouned by crisp chintz or seated on Chippendale when their sneakers were crusted with mud.
The menu at Battletown held all kinds of possibilities -- lunch for $3.25, dinner starting at $5.50, children's dinners ranging $2.75 to $3 and a la carte offerings, too. We decided to try a little bit of everything.
Our daughter had the baked ham lunch, $3.25, which was a moderate portion of ham, with a choice of two vegetables. And that choices they were: squash, stewed tomatoes, fried eggplant sticks, fried potatoes, cole slaw, sweet potatoes or peas. We thought her choice of peas and fried potatoes boring rolled out of a can, but the taste was something else -- sweet and creamy. The potatoes were quite ordinary and too dry.
Our son ordered a la carte: a grilled cheese sandwich, $1.25, and two vegetables, squash and fried potatoes, 75 cents each. The salad was simple: delightfully crisp lettuce with slices of radish, carrots, celery and a sweet French dressing. He wolfed down his cheese sandwich, which he pronounced superb, and then turned to the vegetables. For a vegetarian, he is remarkably unkeen about vegetables, but he loved these. The yellow summer squash had been cooked, chopped, baked in cream and topped with salitine crumbs.We didn't even have to nag him to finish.
My husband and I started with cups of homemade soup, 50 cents each. The vegetable soup was a mild broth with chunks of hand-cut vegetables and plenty of meat. The bean soup was less successful, bland and too starchy.
Smothered chicken and country ham are the house specialties. Neither of has acquired a taste for the saltness of country ham, so we tried the chicken.
For $5.50 our dinners consisted of half a chicken and two vegetables.
The chicken had been appetizingly browned and crisped and the meat was appropriately moist. But what made the meal memorable were the vegetables.
The deep-fried eggplant sticks were remarkably free of grease and coated with a thick, crisp layer of breading that was well-seasoned to set off the almost-puree consistency of the eggplant inside. The stewed tomatoes mingled chunks of soft white bread and tomatoes with a sweet, peppery glaze. The sweet potatoes were particularly tasty; they were buttery soft, toped with a brown-sugar glaze. The only problem wa that we downed them in three bites.
Our meal was accompanied by a basket of rolls, including plain rolls that were ordinary and rum buns that were in a class with the vegetables.
For dessert, we tried cherry tart and blueberry tart (both were overly sweet and gooey). We also had deep dish apple pie that was heavy on the cinnamon, but hot and smooth, and a custard that was dishearteningly bland. All the desserts were 85 cents each.
Our after-hiking country dinner for four came to $25.17, including beverages (milk, coffee, soft drinks) and tax.