Sela's Guide to Inns and Taverns of Elanthia (book)
Sela's Guide to Inns and Taverns of Elanthia
As a Halfling, food and good lodging is of particular importance to me. The gods forbid that one of us should find ourselves actually tenting out on the hard, cold ground with only a bit of yak jerky to chew! But in my travels around Elanthia as a trader, I noticed a distinct lack of travel advisories about what to look for and what to avoid in the way of inns and food in the various cities. After all, who has money to burn on flea infested lodgings or ale you'd not serve your pudgy dog?
With that in mind, let's jump right in and start where we all seem to start when we arrive from our various homes... the mighty and noisy city of the Crossing.
In the Crossing, I would say the best inn by far is The Half Pint Inn located centrally near the Temple and the Bank. The rooms are nice and there are a lot of them. The only minus I would attribute to them, is that the inn must have been built in a more genteel time where a person would not enter a room without knocking, for few rooms seem to have any sort of lock on them. The food is pretty good too, from savory roast pig, thistle salad and oatcakes to Taffleberry Rum Punch and fried honey cakes. I would give it 4 out of 5 tarts on a scale.
The next place I would recommend is Taelbert's Inn in the northern part of the Crossing. This is also in a fairly central location near the busy Asmath Academy, Cleric guild, Ranger guild and Bard Guild. Who could not enjoy a bit of roast beast? The menu is fair, not exactly sterling. They do have a few nice rooms though. I give it 3 out of 5 tarts.
For those of you with more money than good sense there is Gaethred's Inn and Tavern near the Empath's guild and Healing Hospital. I have yet to pass judgement on any of their rooms for I've never found a day when they were vacant if they ever are. They do offer an assortment of drinks however. Imperial Brandy is the top choice for the top price of 1.5 gold a glass. Is it worth such a hefty price? This Halfling doesn't think so. 5 out of 5 tarts for snobbery. 2 tarts for the lack of rooms and prices.
If snobbery is not your style, and you would rather get down and dirty with the regular working class folks, there's no place better than the Sand Spit Tavern down by the docks in the southwestern part of town. Of course there's not much on the menu that appeals to a little sweets-loving Halfling like me, but if exotic seafood is your game this is the place for you. 4 tarts for atmosphere, 2 tarts for the food.
If the Sand Spit isn't dirty enough for you however, you can always try the Viper Pit. This place makes sleeping in the lichyard seem like a welcoming prospect. It's got a peculiar edginess in the atmosphere, and you can almost feel the money jumping magically out of your pockets the minute you walk in. And the rooms! Appalling. If you don't mind sharing your bed with others, it's a fine place. I personally cannot tolerate hundreds of little friends in MY covers at night however. Perish the thought! The prices for drinks are fairly reasonable, but the ingredients are rather suspect. Take for instance this perpetually out of stock item:
12 - Pickled Hairing.............. (out of stock)
Just a typo? This Halfling doesn't think so. And what about the ominous line: "If you don't like our food use it as bait?" Half a tart for the whole dive.
Now if staying overnight is not your bag of tricks, there are several places in town where food can be had alone. There is Saranna's Specialties, a bake shop located on Gildleaf Circle with sweeties galore! Saranna offers iced coffee and three- berry tea only. I would have liked to seen some bottles of milk or juice in the display or even cocoa. But the sweets are all they promise to be and more. 4 tarts, one missing for the lack of drinks.
Right on the same street is the Grocery store run by a kind man, here we find drinks and interesting food a-plenty. There is spiced Rum to doughnuts in this paradise, but again if there was one complaint I could make against it, it is the fact that Barsabe, a man of my own race, mind, only sells Vegetarian tarts. Obviously we can see why he's not doing business in Arthe Dale. 4 tarts.
Speaking of Arthe Dale, let us travel now out the northeast gate and head up toward the village that most reminds me of my dear home. But before we arrive, there are two other stops to make. The first is along the lovely pathway to the DiSilveron Manor. Inside the manor itself the serving staff set out a fine selection of goodies. Check the parlor for some really fine brownies. While not technically a tavern or an inn, it's well worth a stop to explore. 3 tarts for atmosphere and brownies.
The Second is Baerholt's Tavern, down the twisting wooded trail. They offer a fine selection of plain hearty food, wonderful cheeses and some great drinks. Glythtide's Favor, some very fine Applejack Brandy, and some sandwiches to keep a hungry trader going all day. Four enthusiastic tarts. Would have been 5 if only there was a tart on the menu!
Once to Arthe Dale itself, head for the Arthe Hollow Inn, offering a fine selection of good plain food. Kaltan, my husband and I, often sup on their chicken and dumplings when we're in town. Lovely! But again they do not have a large assortment of tarts to my consternation. The tart they offer, mushroom and bacon, is just a little too heavy for all my walking, and so I give it a miss. But this is a charming little inn with rooms sized properly for us of shorter stature, (tall folks mind the door, or a headache you'll be getting) but they also offer a few rooms for the taller folk as well. 4 tarts.
Just north of the inn is a fine little refreshment stand. There is also a produce stall that used to sell nice little quick fruit and veggie snacks but I have not seen it open for a long time now. The stand however sells a good bunch of things like nice hot coffee, cocoa and lemonade as well as sweets, taffelberry shortcake, crullers and a lovely sicle tart. That's more like it. 5 tarts.
Moving west then north to the crossroads, go east to Feta's Kitchen. Sweets! Fresh dairy goods! Baked goods! A Halfling's paradise! Sticky sweet rolls, croissants,sourdough bread and fresh cheeses... Not a tart to be found, but enough goodies to compensate for that. 4 1/2 tarts.
Heading North along the Trade road we come to Kaerna Village. There is the fairly serviceable Unicorn Inn here, offering good drinks to calm the nerves of many a rock troll hunter. There is also some good food. Really the only thing I'd avoid on the menu is the river water. As they like to say whenever you travel abroad... "Don't drink the water!" And it applies here as well. There are rooms and a nice folksy atmosphere. 4 tarts.
Also in the village is a small general store that sells some food as well. Call it survival goods if nothing else. There is plain sugar here, some cheeses, dried fruit and meat, but the best of the lot to my way of thinking is the taffelberry jam.
A sharp-eyed Halfling would do well to keep their eyes peeled along the road here for there's sometimes a young boy who when startled will drop a simply lovely taffelberry tart for the taking. Since there is a dire shortage of tarts, we should all keep our eyes open for our opportunities, eh?
Near to Kaerna Village is the dwarven Stone Clan or Lairocott Brach. It is quite a little thing to get into the place, but once you've convinced the guards to let you in, you're in for a real treat--if you're a Dwarf. Simple fare offered at the tavern of Forkbeard's Brodger. Care for buttermilk? Barley soup? How about some curds? This is the place for you. Not exactly anything to write home to mother about, but you won't starve and the atmosphere is pretty good provided you stay for the singing Dwarves. 3 tarts.
Moving north again along the trade route, and where else is a trader going to walk? --we come to a tiny little caravansary just northwest of the crossroad of the path to Dirge and Riverhaven. There is an inn here in this land of bleakness. Also some drinks, but they are quite expensive. The most expensive of these is Ironhill Whiskey for a steep 2 gold a shot. Rather a lot when it's plentiful elsewhere. Dirge and surrounding areas are not the lap of luxury however, and I would imagine the import fees are fairly hefty. Great if you're starving. Don't stop here if you're not, there's another place that's much better not too far up the road, more in a minute. 2 tarts.
Taking a run into Dirge itself, you would imagine that such a bleak and terrible place, ravaged as it has been by the volcanic activity nearby, would offer no comfort at all. This is not so. There is quite a delightful inn there, the rooms of which were very nice to visit once, but I find these days they are terribly difficult to get vacancies. Still it was surprising to find such comfort so far away from anything resembling such. The food is reasonably priced, but it tends heavily toward goatish. There is some very expensive booze here too, however--one is a whopping 5 gold. I would think perhaps the bleakness does drive the men to drink. Might explain the gibbering poor souls all along the path on the way in. 3 tarts.
There is also a general store in town that will sell you some foodstuffs. More goatish goods I am afraid and wild dog. Definitely not to my taste, but perhaps you do feel differently. 2 tarts for effort.
Now heading north from the Dirge Crossroads, hurrying past the evil volcanos and the ruins of the poor Sicle Grove healing hospital-- ah, Timothy, how we all grieve for you! We come upon another Caravansary along the road toward the Riverhaven Ferry. This place is one of my very favorite spots in the Lands-- The Oak Grove Tavern. Under-appreciated because of the long distance, and the use of lirums instead of kronars, this place is a haven for those hardy souls brave enough to carry the money. They have interesting items there (my suede-beaded backpack came from there), as well as wonderful food: sumptuous apple pie, steaming hot coffee. A tired halfling is in paradise... if only they had tarts. As the menu says, "It's all fresh, It's all tasty, It ain't free" but the prices are very reasonable. 5 tarts even without tarts.
We hop aboard the ferry and head for Riverhaven. Once in town what trip here would be complete without a pass through the Halfling Quarter? The ever-popular smoke shop is housed here, along with a gift shoppe where you can obtain candy, toys and cards for the love in your life. There is also Noot's Tearoom. They have an extraordinary policy against yelling, something my erstwhile companion had to test one afternoon. He was kicked out, proving the policy is stringent. As you would expect for a tearoom, there is tea. There is also goat's milk and some nice seed cakes. All of it is very prim and proper and exactly right if you want to sit down and have a nice cuppa. 3 tarts.
Strangely, the one inn in town, the Pierless Inn, is sumptuous for the weary traveler, offering many rooms with various themes for comfort, but absolutely no food or drink whatsoever, unless they hid the bar so well that this little halfling couldn't sniff it out. 4 tarts for the rooms, 0 tarts on the food and drink.
There is a fine bakery in town, Lokthal's. The chocolate torte is very good. They have no tarts, though, and offer nothing to drink. What's a thirsty halfling to do? Stoop to drinking tea?! 3 tarts.
Thank goodness there's one more food place in town, the Saltfisher Inn. Granted, the smell on the approach to this place leaves much to be desired, but oh once you are inside! The food is mouth-watering and they have drinks! You will not want to share the frosted fudge cake! Still no tarts though. 4 tarts.
We hop onto the lamentable barge and slide away from Riverhaven heading for the wilds of Langenfirth, the ranger's paradise. While on the barge, I would strongly urge you to refrain from sampling the drinks the poor excuse for a refreshment stand offers: the prices they charge and the time it takes...! The brandy is your only safe choice of drinks. The ale is positive swill not even the lake creature would drink. The others are almost as bad. Do yourself a favor and train your way across, chat with a friend or gamble, but don't drink! Your stomach will thank you.
Once in Langenfirth you can find in the northwestern part of town a fair inn called the Telgar Inn. This is a quite fine little place with rustic but charming rooms, well, some of them. Don't go all the way upstairs, or at least mind the floor if you do. The food is simple but honest fare, and for dessert, treat yourself to a fine chocolate tart. Yes! Well worth the trip in itself. The prices are quite reasonable. 4 tarts.
Heading north we come into Therenborough. This paladin town on the edge of nowhere it seems, grew some since the first time I passed by in my travels, and so I returned to check out the larger selection of food. Along the way there is a small fruit- stand open only in the daytime. They offer some nice nuts and a good lemonade if you're tired from all that walking. It's a nice place to rest on your walk. There's also a lot of apple trees along this road with red juicy apples for picking year-round. Once in Therenborough itself, you can head to the northwestern part of town to The Baron's Table, a small restaurant. They have quite a good menu of items including an interesting pear and custard tart. 4 tarts.
There is seafood to be had at the Baron's Keep itself, but unless it's daytime it is rather annoying to make your way inside as the basements are rather infested with spiders. Large ones. There are also places to stay inside the Baron's keep. Some of them are quite lovely and comfortable, but other parts of his fortress are quite literally falling apart and there's an uneasy feeling over the whole place in regards to people falling/jumping/getting pushed off the tallest tower. Not exactly home away from home. 2 tarts.
We head back on down from the farthest Northern Reaches to the Crossing then head west out the gate to the small Tiger Clan village. There's a little bar, The Pig's Pannage, just through the gate there, that sells oddities like braised possum and pease pudding-- which leads me to wonder with no small amount of trepidation was it in the pot nine days? Considering the weird offerings of the tavern, it wouldn't surprise me. They've got some coffee that will awake the dead though and the desserts were good. 3 tarts.
Heading west from here we come to the equally small village of Wolf Clan. The fare at Arnack's Tavern seems mostly to come from denizens of my own trader profession. Lost yaks and mules seem find themselves inside of Arnack's pot quickly enough. Surprisingly, he does culinary wonders with these tough old critters, leading my dear husband and I to wonder if the only good yak is a yak-kabob. His Skullcrusher whiskey is to be savored as well. If you work hard and like to drink hard, this is the whiskey for you. All those mule kicks had to go somewhere in the end-- right into the whiskey. 4 tarts.
Come dear readers and tarry not in the far reaches of Knife Clan, for while they do have interesting throwing knives, they certainly do not have any tarts or any food at all, from what I could see. Apart from some great blackened thing in the middle of their camp that they called a boar. Perhaps it was. Once. I merely called it burnt.
Leaving that scene firmly in the past, let us move south to Leth Deriel, city of the Elves, where like so many other things about Elves, their food is... odd. Perhaps that is too strong a word, but to be sure the things of Leth are geared much more toward nature than perhaps a Halfling would enjoy. Carob-coated groundnuts? What's wrong with good old chocolate? The first stop on our tour here is the Rest of Ages Inn. Nestled inside a huge old hickory tree at the north end of town, this place is actually quite fine and comfortable. There are several nice rooms of various themes, and while the menu is strange, it is prepared very well. Sparrow just does not appeal to these tastebuds. 5 tarts for the rooms, 2 tarts for the food, 3 tarts for the drinks--I recommend the mint julep.
Don't forget the vendor selling roasted chestnuts just northwest of the town square. These are more reminiscent of real edible food than sparrow could be, besides the owner looks like she really needs the money with her young one. 3 tarts.
On to the candy store-- De'ali's Elven Delights. This is the place where one can purchase carob nuts if one were so inclined to do so. You can also have candied violets if eating flowers is more your taste. They do have excellent peppermint and licorice, though. 3 tarts.
And if that's not enough, drop in the Leth Deriel Bakery. The order of the day is again nuts and berries, but by and large the items are tasty. Acorn bread really isn't that bad... 3 tarts.
Heading on down south from Leth we cross the treacherous gondola, not for those with a fear of heights, and pull up the caravan in front of Marachek's Oak in the tiny village of Fayrin's Rest. A fine Halfling establishment, the proprietor offers full amenities in one tree. Food, lodging as well as two shops. The food is more to my taste, more cocoa and a nice chocolate cake as well as hearty main courses. Who could turn down a nice serving of mammoth ribs? The rooms in the Oak must be very popular indeed for almost as soon as it was opened to us, they have been hung with no vacancy signs. A sad, sad sight. But the tree is very interesting to prowl through despite the lack of true lodging. 5 tarts despite the lack of tarts.
Moving on south from Fayrin's Rest we come to the Steelclaw Clan. There is a small tavern here by the name of The Broken Blade. The rooms are quite outstanding and should be given a try if you are ever in the neighborhood. There are an assortment of good drinks here, but no food. The strongest of these is Piet's Wicked Ale. Heartily recommended. The Black Road Whiskey is good as well, but is only given out in small shots. 4 tarts for lack of food.
On down to Shard we go, hoping of course it is daytime and we can use the North Gate. Once there we can head to the various guilds stationed all around town. Each of these are quite elegantly appointed with comfortable places for the various adventurers to rest up. Our own Trader's guild is quite a fine place and offers a good bit of comfort to weary feet. If however your guild does not offer you a good enough place to rest, you can try Milene's Rose, an inn in the seedier south side of town, but a fine place nonetheless. They have good rooms and an interesting eclectic menu, including the very strong drink, Zombie's Revenge. A must for the traveler who likes a good strong one. Torte but no tarts.... 4 tarts.
There is an inn called the Silver Eye near the northern end of town, but I have not seen it open at all.
There is a bakery, Genevive's Sweet Tooth, southeast of the Great Tower that offers very fine cookies, cherry tarts(!), and candies along with gift boxes and bags should you want to offer your sweetheart something delicious and gift-wrapped. A must for anyone who adores goodies. 5 tarts.
If you should find yourself in the "wrong" side of town, there are also some places to stay there as well as a surprisingly good teahouse. We stopped in at the Wayfarer Tavern which had recently changed hands apparently. The drinks there were not good, nor was the food appetizing. The rooms reminded me very much of that nightmare of an Inn, the Viper's Nest, back in Crossing. Only these had the added effect of a putrid color scheme to go with the active wildlife. On the bright side, if you found yourself unable to sleep, at least you could practice your hunting skills. Half a tart.
The little gem of the place is Derleth's Teahouse. You can get a good soothing cup of tea here as well as scones both plain and chocolate covered. It's difficult to find, but well worth it! 4 tarts.
This concludes Sela's guide to the inns and taverns of Elanthia, and I hope you will eat better in the future because of it! Nothing worse than an adventurer sustaining himself on journey bread and yak jerky with only a blanket to shelter him from the elements, or the elementals. You don't even have to be rich to eat well if only you know where to look and that was my sole reason for jotting this all down, to help you find the good eats in and among the chaff.
Eat well and rest up for tomorrow we adventure once more.
Special thanks to adventurers Kaltan, Jenala, Jaiy, Meridy and Alexander for helping in the sampling of the food and drinks and offering their opinions.