From crab cakes to hot dogs, the owners of the Purple Iris and Dogs 11 in Martinsburg are serving up fresh-made fare that’s sure to please your palate.
The Hartwood Mansion in Martinsburg has long been the Eastern Panhandle’s go-to venue for formal events. With towering trees and lush gardens, the 17-acre property boasts sophisticated style and colonial charm in a country setting, making it a coveted location for special occasions like anniversary celebrations, wedding ceremonies, and rehearsal dinners.
The mansion was originally built in 1929 and fully restored in 1998. But when Tiffany and Daniel Harshbarger purchased the property 16 years ago, the husband and wife duo had a grand vision to bring something new to the old house.
Daniel—a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York City—previously worked at the Sheraton Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Lakewood Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, and Catoctin Inn and Catering in Buckeystown, Maryland. He purchased a home in Martinsburg in 1998 while he was part owner of the Catoctin Inn. An avid outdoorsman and fisherman, he fell in love with West Virginia and his new home near the Potomac River and immediately knew the community would have an appetite for his made-from-scratch American cuisine. He also knew the Hartwood Mansion was just the place to bring his idea to life. So, in 2002, he and Tiffany bought the mansion, renamed it The Purple Iris, and added fine dining to its amenities.
On the second level of the 10,000-square- foot mansion, former bedrooms have been converted into dining rooms that now serve diners looking for quality, freshly made food. “We bake our own bread and make all dressings and sauces, and our pastry chef makes all of the desserts in-house,” says Tiffany, who oversees the restaurant’s front-of-house operations while Daniel manages the kitchen. The couple even grows their own herbs to use in dishes and garnish guests’ plates.
Customers can expect an ever-changing menu and Tiffany invites them to try seasonal specials like the Yulebe Shellfish: a delectable combination of lobster, shrimp, crab, fettuccine, and lobster prawn bisque. The menu also features beloved standards like the Slammin’ Salmon filet, the Whoa Cowboy! ribeye steak, and the always popular Pride and Joy jumbo lump crab cakes.
The Purple Iris’s fresh and appetizing food is complemented by superb hospitality. “Our service is friendly and inviting,” Tiffany says. “We want people to come as they are and to enjoy a good meal. We believe in giving good portions and good, honest service.”
And that service doesn’t end at the dinner table. Under the direction of the Harshbargers, The Purple Iris has not only flourished as a restaurant but now also offers three carriage rooms for overnight accommodations. “We also get a lot of customers from outside West Virginia,” Tiffany says. “They like the fact that we are close to Harpers Ferry and Berkeley Springs. The Eastern Panhandle has so much to offer, and they can enjoy a slower pace of life here.” Each room features a king-size bed, a gas fireplace, and a whirlpool tub.
While reservations are required for a night’s stay or an evening of fine dining at the Purple Iris, Tiffany and Daniel also have something for those seeking a more informal meal—Dogs 11, their hot dog and hamburger joint, located right next door. “Daniel wanted to offer the community a local place to go get an iconic hot dog, hamburger, or kielbasa on a fresh homemade bun,” Tiffany says. “Dogs 11 also serves hand-cut fries, and we make a lot of our own accompaniments.”
Simply put, no matter your craving, the Harshbargers have got you covered. The Purple Iris is open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Dogs 11 is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. 1956 Winchester Avenue, Martinsburg, 304.262.6110 thepurpleirisathartwood.com
written by Kaylyn Christopher