by guest blogger, Rich Baringer,

As you walk into the Karlton Café, you’ll notice some classic theater posters from a Quakertown movie house back in the day. The café takes its name from the Karlton Theater, which was in the same building where the café currently resides.

Things have changed a bit since my dad worked at the theater as a teenager. The menu here is a far cry from popcorn and Jujubes. You’ll find a lot to satisfy your hunger these days.

pizza sculptures_Tobin_Karlton Cafe

The Karlton Café has a casual, relaxed vibe. Other than the posters, when you enter the cafe, you’ll notice the open kitchen across from a wall full of pizza sculptures by Quakertown artist, Steve Tobin.  I enjoyed lunch at the row of tables looking across at the busy kitchen. But you can also eat al fresco at sidewalk tables if the weather’s nice or in the back dining room for a quieter meal.

Chef/owner AJ Buehrer owns the café with his wife, Amanda.  His mom, who is “retired,” makes all of the “Mom-Made Desserts” offered each day.

AJ grew up in the Quakertown area and was raised in the food life. Both parents worked in the restaurant business and eventually started an organic farm that supplied high-end restaurants all over the East Coast with produce and meats. AJ’s father was one of the first in the country to popularize microgreens and other now-trendy ingredients in restaurants.  AJ not only grew to understand the importance of quality produce, but also learned to enjoy butchering. He butchers much of what he serves in the café

Karlton Cafe front

Chef AJ travels to South Philadelphia to buy top-quality proteins and produce to serve at the Karlton. He’s also eager to work with local farms. It depends on his needs at the time. His bottom line is that he is dedicated to serving quality ingredients prepared from scratch. The menu makes that clear.

The Karlton serves breakfast and lunch every day, dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and a Sunday brunch. AJ has recently changed and expanded his menu—and it’s one of those menus that will take you some time to decide on what to order.

Breakfast offerings include omelets, egg dishes and creamed chipped beef.  Most popular for breakfast are the Benedicts. You can choose from pork chop, beef filet, wild mushroom or roasted pepper Benedicts, all with house-made Hollandaise sauce.

BBQ shrimp Po' Boy at the Karlton Cafe

The lunch menu includes salads and an array of sandwiches. For lunch, though, AJ’s soups are the big hit. He makes 6 homemade soups each day and you can enjoy them by themselves or with a sandwich or salad. For those who are indecisive (like me), he offers a Soup Trio—a tasting of 3 different soups.  I love that. You can also get soup to go. I didn’t get the soup, but did have a very tasty BBQ shrimp Po’Boy with a fresh-made blueberry lemonade.

For dinner, you can choose from a number of beef, chicken, seafood, pork or vegetarian dishes. Specials are offered throughout the day as well.  To keep things on the menu changing, AJ offers special themes each month—July is “Crab Fest”—where the menu features dishes using that month’s theme ingredient.

If you’re having an event or party, AJ can do that too.  His Live Fire Grille brings all the café’s top-notch ingredients to your place and will cook it all there for you. You can choose from themes like a Fajita Party, Surf & Turf, or Shish Kabob, orr come up with your own idea.

Kitchen at the Karlton Cafe

To me, the Karlton Café is the kind of place we need more of. Quality ingredients prepared in a way that emphasizes their flavor. A creative and unique menu. A fun, relaxed place to spend some time enjoying good food. And a chef who understands and has a passion for great food.  The Karlton Café is definitely worth a visit!

The Karlton Café
310 Broad St.
Quakertown, PA  18951
PH: 215.538.8353
WEB: www.karltoncafe.com
Facebook:  Karlton Café 
Live Fire Grille’s Web: livefiregrille.com

Rich Baringer is the chef/owner of Dinner’s Done Personal Chef Service. He lives in Blooming Glen with his wife, Mary Beth and son, Jake. Check out his blog, Dinner’s Done!

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sold out day; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaThe words “sold out” have become a big part of Kendall Bajek’s vocabulary these days. But don’t worry. That will change.

Bajek is Empanada Mama. And Empanada Mama is the newest, hottest eatery in Doylestown. I’d say it’s the best kept secret in Doylestown, but it’s not a secret anymore. Which is pretty amazing since Bajek opened her empanada bakery only 7 weeks ago (early May 2014) and is looking to move into a new, bigger location by mid-July.

Right now you can find Empanada Mama in the 200 sq foot space attached to Andre’s Wine & Cheese Shop in the Main Street Marketplace. There, Mondays through Fridays, 11 am to 4 pm, you’ll find the 25 year old Bajek working full speed, baking and handing out empanadas as fast as she can make them.

empanadas with sauces; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaEmpanadas are stuffed, hand-held pastries, often fried but also baked, and traditionally filled with meats. Although the pastry originally hails from Spain, every South and Central American country seems to have their own version. Argentina is probably the most famous for their take on the tasty pastry, and that’s where Bajek learned how to make them. She spent six months living in Argentina, teaching English to airline pilots, and spending time in the kitchens of friends, learning how to make empanadas.

Bajek’s empanadas are baked, making them lighter than the fried version. The crust is flaky, and is almost like filo dough, so it’s easy to eat more than one. In fact, if you are bringing them home, get more than you think you’ll need. You may eat one in the car.

So what’s all the excitement about these particular empanadas? They are hot, freshly made and creatively filled. Although there are some standards on the menu, new options are available every day depending on what Bajek sees in the produce store and what is seasonal.

argentina-inside-beef-empanada; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaFor you meat eaters, there’s the B.A. Beef empanada with seasoned ground beef, peppers, onions, cumin and olives. Or a BBQ Pork with smoked pork, Gouda cheese, mozzarella and house made BBQ sauce (the smoked pork is made by Chef Ron Spada of {more than}>Q in the Stockton Market). You could also try the Buffalo Chicken empanada with shredded chicken, “MAMAmade” buffalo sauce, and gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses.

For vegetarians, Bajek makes at least two veggie options every day. “Vegetarians tell me they are so excited to be able to eat an empanada since traditionally they are filled with meat,” explains Bajek. “The vegetarian ones actually sell out faster than the meat ones.”

Caprese Stuffing Exposed; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaI just checked today’s menu on Empanada Mama’s website (updated every day) and the vegetarian offerings are: Roasted Veggie, with oven-roasted zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, capers and mozzarella; Mediterranean Eggplant, with roasted eggplant, red peppers, feta and herbs; Sweet Balsamic Onion, with balsamic caramelized onions, fontina and mozzarella, or the Caprese, with cherry tomatoes, house-made basil pesto and mozzarella.

And then there’s dessert. Today’s offering is a Berry Mascarpone Empanada, with strawberries, blueberries, mascarpone-ricotta cream and lemon zest.

Bajek wasn’t always an Empanada Mama. When the CB East graduate went off to the University of Miami, she didn’t even know how to cook.

“My mom is a great cook, so I never really had to cook at home,” Bajek says. “But I started cooking in college because I like to eat good food. I’d Skype my mom from the kitchen, holding up a chicken, and saying, ‘Does this look right?’” Bajek also spent time at a Nordstrom Café doing prep and working the line.

After college, Bajek set off backpacking to Europe and Morocco. When a job fell through here, she just kept going, off to South America. It was when she was living in Buenos Aires that she fell in love with empanadas.

Kendall in Argentina kitchen; photo courtesy of Empanada Mama“I loved eating them and they are all over, in your face, everywhere.” She asked friends if she could come to their kitchens to learn how to make them. In fact, Bajek has spent time in home kitchens throughout her travels, picking up different techniques and flavors.

At first, she just made the empanadas for friends and family. “My mom – who comes from 3 generations of bakers – doesn’t know how to make them, so I enjoyed teaching her something for a change.”

When Bajek found herself with a week off from a stressful job, and wanted something to do, she made empanadas and walked from business to business in downtown Doylestown selling them. Her thought was to do something fun for the summer before hitting the job search again.

Dtown Tech bought from me every day, and were so supportive. They are the ones who urged me to open up my own place,” she says. For two weeks, she sold her empanadas to the locals and asked for feedback about flavors and pricing.

She heard Andre’s Wine and Cheese Shop had an available space with a convection oven. Done deal. The initial plan was to do take-out but now you’ll find 10 seats available in the little eatery. You can also buy a glass of wine or Sangria from Andre’s next door to enjoy with your empanadas.

“My biggest fear when I started was that people wouldn’t know what an empanada is,” Bajek says. So she purposely didn’t do the typical Argentinian fillings which tend to be heavy on the meat and spices. “I wanted to first do fillings with ingredients that are more familiar to people here,” she explains, hence one of her first big hits, the artichoke and spinach empanada.

She also wasn’t sure what the demand would be. Her first day open, she made thirty empanadas and sold out in an hour. “I closed for four days after first opening to figure out how to do this right,” she explains. Now, on a slow day, Empanada Mama sells 200 empanadas. On a busy day, 600 or more.

Empanada pre-bake; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaHow does Bajek handle this? Well, she doesn’t get a lot of sleep. She’s up at 6 am and at the store by 6:15 (she lives nearby). First she makes the fillings for the day’s empanadas. At 8 am she starts rolling out the dough and makes the empanadas until 10:30 am, when she finishes par-baking them (when you order, she bakes them for another 8 minutes). Then Sophia Crescitelli, who handles the register and keeps things running smooth, posts the menu on their website and on the blackboard. The doors open at 11 am.

Empanada Mama closes at 4 pm, but Bajek is rarely out by then. At the end of the day, it’s off to the market to buy ingredients for the next day.

“I have to buy ingredients in small quantities because I don’t have a lot of fridge space here. That’s why everything is so fresh, and I can change the menu so often.” Bajek comes back to the store after 9 pm and starts prepping the fillings for the next day, often working until 11 pm or later.

empanadas ready to eat; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaEmpanada Mama’s empanadas are tasty. The pastry crust is flaky and light, with just enough thickness to hold the filling and yet still provide a satisfying chew. But what I – and many others obviously – find most fun is the diversity of fillings. I asked Bejak where she gets her ideas from.

“I love eating out,” she explains. “I just ate Indian food and that gave me a whole bunch of new ideas.” She’ll also convert other recipes. “The Chicken Roja is based on a pasta dish that I make. I adapted it for the empanada filling.” Bajek enjoys cooking seasonally and plans on hooking up with local farmers, like Barefoot Gardens and Hershberger Heritage Farm.

Here's how it worksYou can buy the empanadas in orders of three. Bajek was a little concerned whether folks would go for this, but once customers realized how light the empanadas are, it wasn’t a problem. A “lunch box” includes three good-sized empanadas and the sauce of your choice ($9.25). A half dozen comes with two sauces ($18), and a full dozen includes four sauces ($35). For the sauces, choose from Chipotle Aioli, Pesto Aioli, Kalamata Olive Aioli, Horseradish Cream Sauce or Spicy Sriracha Lime Sauce.

All the empanadas are baked to order, so call in your order or be prepared to hang out for 15-20 minutes. Check Empanada Mama’s website for the current day’s menu and see some mouth-watering pictures on their Facebook page.

Bajek is about to sign a lease on a bigger space in Doylestown that will allow her to be open longer hours and on weekends, although when she’ll find time to breath, I’m not sure.

“Even though I’m not getting much sleep,” Bajek says, “I have never felt more satisfaction. I love introducing people to new things.”

Empanada Mama
Located in Andre’s Wine & Cheese Shop
Main Street Marketplace
22 South Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
PH: 267.809.5269
WEB: www.yoemama.com
Facebook: Empanada Mama

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Right here in Bucks County, 1 in 10 residents and 15% of all children (64,000 people, in total) are considered “food insecure,” meaning that they don’t have reliable access to a sufficient quality of affordable, nutritious food.

Among our friends and neighbors, there are children going to bed hungry, families torn between getting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads, and older adults skipping meals so that they can afford medication.

You can help change that by volunteering or donating to Bucks Knocks Out Hunger, a one-day food packing event and a fundraiser for Bucks County’s food pantries.

Over 100,000 nutritious, shelf-stable meals are packed by volunteers at just 25 cents each. Donations will also help provide tens of thousands of pounds of locally grown produce, lean proteins, and other items that can be hard for pantries to obtain.

Bucks Knock Out Hunger

This is the impact of our collective donations:

  • $25,000 allows Bucks County volunteers to pack and distribute 100,000 meals. Meal supplies are purchased through Outreach, Inc. for just 25 cents per meal.
  • $37,000 provides meals AND allows United Way of Bucks County to work with Delaware Valley College’s Hope of the Harvest Charitable Garden and greenhouses to provide more than 30,000 lbs of produce.
  • $45,000 provides all of the above and helps Rolling Harvest Food Rescue work with small, sustainable farms in Bucks County to provide additional produce.
  • $55,000 provides all of the above PLUS lean proteins and other perishable items that do not typically come in through food drives.  This money helps pantries fill the gaps when they are critically low. Funds are distributed through the network of pantries by Bucks County Opportunity Council.

This is a wonderful opportunity to contribute positively to your community by helping to ensure that everyone has access to healthy and affordable meals.

You can make a donation to Bucks Knocks Out Hunger by clicking here, or sign up to volunteer at the packing event on June 20th by clicking here. If you’d like to find other ways to help, contact Tim Philpot at timp@uwbucks.org or call 215-949-1660, ext. 104.

strawberriesSummertime! Strawberries are everywhere, festivals are popping up and the living is easy…

The summer solstice is this Saturday, June 21 and Snipes Farm & Education Center is celebrating all weekend long with two great events, all to raise money for summer camp scholarships for low income and homeless children. On Saturday, come for an organic Pig Roast beginning at 5 pm. There will be hayrides, live music and a bonfire with s’mores. The American Roots Music Festival takes place on Sunday, with live music and food and wine provided by Comfort Food and Crossing Vineyards. For tickets, click here.

BC Brewery logoBucks County’s newest brewery and distillery are celebrating the summer solstice too on Saturday. The Full Tilt Summer Solstice Celebration will take place at the Bucks County Brewery and Hewn Spirits in Pipersville from 1 pm to 9 pm. Celebrate the longest day of the year with beer, spirits, music and some good food trucks. Cost is $10 per person. For more information, click here. [Note: we'll be writing about Hewn Spirits and Bucks County Brewery soon.]

Spring radishes by Blooming Glen Farm

To market, to market. Here’s what you can expect to find at local farmers markets this week: arugula, beets, bok choi, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, cucumbers, fennel, green garlic, green onions, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, assorted greens, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, scallions, string beans, snap peas, spinach, strawberries, summer squash, Swiss chard, turnips, watercress and  zucchini.

You’ll also be able to pick up eggs from free-range chickens, grass-fed and pastured meats, preserves, specialty foods, baked goods like breads, cakes, cookies and pastries, cheese and yogurt, locally roasted coffee, and interesting crafts from local artisans. For a list of all farmers’ markets in Bucks and nearby, go to our food guide here.

The 2014 Strawberry Report. We’ve checked with area farms and compiled a list of who has strawberries and where you can pick-your-own. For the latest, see our Facebook page. Click here for a list of all farms with strawberries: Pick-your-own strawberries in Bucks.

On the radar…

  • June 26: Seafood Adventure at Honey - Honey, 42 Shewell Avenue, Doylestown, PA
  • June 30: 5th Anniversary Celebration at the Black Bass - Black Bass Hotel, River Road, Lumberville, PA
  • June 30: Haute Cuisine at Brian’s Restaurant - Brian’s Restaurant, 9 Klines Court, Lambertville, NJ

For more details on any of these events, please go to our full calendar, Food Events in Bucks County. Follow Bucks County Taste also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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Sum Pig Food Truck sideWhen you look at the outside of the Sum Pig Food Truck what you are really seeing is Jessica Iannuzzi and Stephen Koste. The colorful truck is covered with graphics of postcards from places in the United States that Iannuzzi and Koste have traveled in the course of their 30-something lives. North Carolina, San Francisco, Michigan, San Diego, New Jersey, Indianapolis, Nashville, Las Vegas and even Quakertown, PA. What you’ll taste coming out of this unique food truck is the “sum” of the culinary influences from all those places.

The “pig” part? “It’s because we welcome people to pig out on our truck!” Iannuzzi says with a laugh. And this is easy to do. Exhibit #1: The Western Sandwich—smoked pork, sharp cheddar, apple wood smoked bacon and barbecue sauce on a rustic roll. Exhibit #2: the Buffalo Chicken Nachos—house made corn tortilla chips topped with chicken, cheese, cilantro, celery seed and blue cheese. And then there’s the Smoked Pork Parfait—smoked pork layered between collard greens and cheesy garlic, mashed potatoes, topped with cheese, bacon and BBQ drizzle. Are you hungry yet?

Sum Pig Food Truck_lineI met up with Iannuzzi and Koste a couple of weeks ago on an overcast Thursday afternoon. Their truck was parked at the curb in a Newtown office complex, just off the Newtown bypass. There was a line of two dozen people, patiently waiting, and clearly anticipating a delicious lunch.

Despite the wait and the threatening clouds above, everyone was in a good mood. Coworkers and friends joked with each other— “Hey! No butting in line!” I caught snippets of conversations as people mulled over their lunch choices. “I’m getting the Buffalo Chicken Nachos. They were so good last week.” “Yeah, but I want to try the Slaw Dog.” (Two all-beef hotdogs, topped with house-made slaw and sriracha sauce.) As each person walked away from the truck, smiling with food in hand, friends inquired, “Whad’ja get?”

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From the looks of the Sum Pig food, I wasn’t surprised. But this was only the second week Iannuzzi and Koste had set up for lunch at this location. They had catered a Cinco de Mayo party here and were so well received that they were asked to come back on a regular basis. (Mark your calendars, Bucks County folks, Thursdays from 11 am to 2 pm at 100 Brandywine Blvd, Newtown.)

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that food trucks are a big food trend right now. I grew up in Philly so of course I’m familiar with the street cart selling pretzels, hot dogs or breakfast sandwiches. But today’s street vendors are gourmet, ethnically diverse and making everything you could want—and then some. Case in point: the Lambertville NiteFare this past Thursday hosted food trucks offering Cajun and creole dishes, poutine, Thai, farm-to-table, empanadas, cupcakes, ice cream, Italian sandwiches, BBQ, cheese steaks and hamburgers, lobster rolls, pizza made-to-order in a wood-fired oven and even hot dogs.

Then there are the Vendy Awards, now in their 10th year, recognizing the best street food vendors in five major American cities, including Philadelphia. The good news? Food trucks are making their way into Bucks County and Sum Pig is one of the first.

Iannuzzi and Koste live in Warminster but travel all over the Philadelphia area. They have a couple of regular gigs, like the one in Newtown, but for the most part they do fairs and festivals, farmers markets and traveling events like the Night Market in Philadelphia, as well as catering parties. Although they have few set hours, you can always see where they will be by checking their Facebook page every Sunday.

Why do two people who love each other, and obviously care deeply for one another, start a business where they will be holed up in a hot truck for hours on end with sharp knives handy? “We’ve learnt a lot about each other in the last few years,” admits Iannuzzi, but she adds, “We were in the beginning of our relationship when we started, so maybe that helped.”

Sum Pig Food Truck_Stephen KosteSum Pig came into being in October 2012, and as Iannuzzi and Koste enter their second summer season, they are still having fun. It may help that the two were friends for ten years before they started dating. They both love cooking and eating good food, and it was a welcome change from working in a title company (Iannuzzi) and managing someone else’s restaurant (Koste).

Iannuzzi is a local girl, hailing from Somerton. Koste grew up “everywhere.” His dad was in the military, and then became a popular disc jockey, so the family moved around a lot. When you taste Sum Pig’s barbecue, you’ll taste the North Carolina influence.

Mondays and Tuesdays are spent prepping in Warminster where Koste smokes 300 pounds of meat for the week. Wednesdays through Sundays, often from early morning until late at night, are spent handing out delicious food all over the Delaware Valley. And although the name implies pork, they offer chicken and beef, and always have vegetarian options on the menu.

The menu changes with the seasons so you’ll find gazpacho in the warmer months. In the fall, you’ll see hearty soups and stews like Crawfish Etouffee, Canadian Cheddar and Bacon Beer Soup and Jambalaya. Iannuzzi and Koste try to source locally whenever possible, getting produce from None Such Farm, bacon and pork from Leidy’s, rolls from Liscio’s and Le Bus, as well as quick stops to Altomonte’s to pick up this and that.

I asked Iannuzzi to name her favorite Sum Pig creation. “Unfortunately I eat nachos every time I’m on the truck. I love the Buffalo Chicken Nachos. It’s based on a recipe that my mom created. She simmered the chicken wings in her own sauce, and now I use that to marinate the chicken we put on the nachos.”

Although the Buffalo Chicken Nachos are always on the menu, you might also find Smoked Pork Nachos and Chili-Cheese Nachos (vegetarian). In fact, nachos are so popular that Iannuzzi and Koste plan to open a nacho truck in the fall.

Sum Pig Food Truck_Jessica IannuzziAs they head into another summer of cooking, traveling and long hours, they are still enjoying themselves. Koste hangs out the window, taking orders and calling out first names when the meal is ready. Iannuzzi is a blur, working the line but smiling as she looks out the truck’s window. “I love always being at the party,” she says, “and meeting so many nice, new people from all walks of life.”

Sum Pig Food Truck
PH: 215.626.7668
WEB: www.SumPigFoodTruck.com
Facebook: Sum Pig Food Truck

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Why is it that everyone wants to know where to take Mom out for Mother’s Day, but making Dad stand over the grill is okay on Father’s Day? No more. Many local restaurants are offering a special brunch and dinner for Dads. Here are some places to consider.

Steakhouse_photo_2014_Yardley Inn

The Yardley Inn is again offering its special Steakhouse menu beginning on Friday, June 13 and running all weekend. You will also be able to enjoy the Inn’s popular brunch buffet on both Saturday and Sunday and there will be full coverage of the U.S. Open Championship on multiple televisions in the lounge area (and a contest!). For rez, call 215.493.9300. The Washington House and the Rising Sun Inn are also both offering Father’s Day brunch and dinner (see the links above for their websites).

Does Dad like firehouse pancake breakfasts? Stop by Perkasie, Riegelsville or the Silverdale Fire Companies this Sunday for a great breakfast (hey…why not do all three? That would be fun.)

fathers-day-beer-lgIf your Dad loves beer and wine, there are also a bunch of fun events going on this weekend. On Saturday, the New Hope Beer Festival will be taking place at the Eagle Firehouse Banquet Hall. Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville is hosting their 2nd Annual Brews & Bites from 4 – 8 pm. The Stockton Market will have a Father’s Day Chocolate and Beer Tasting Saturday evening.

On Father’s Day proper, four local wineries have some fun events going on, all beginning at noon. There will be a Father’s Day Food & Wine Pairing at Crossing Vineyards & Winery including five courses of gourmet food and wine (reservations required). At Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes, NJ, all fathers will receive a pour of their Port on the house. Dad will be able to eat both wings and wine at Old York Cellars in Ringoes, NJ at their Father’s Day: Wings and Wines. And finally, Alba Vineyard & Winery is welcoming Dads and their families all day for wine and music in Milford, NJ.

On the radar…

  • June 21: Summer Solstice Pig Roast - Snipes Farm and Education Center, 890 West Bridge Street, Morrisville, PA [5 - 9 pm]
  • June 22: Enabled Table Farm Supper Benefit - Bobolink Dairy, Stamets Road, Milford, NJ [1 - 5 pm]
  • June 22: Wine Pairing at Arielle’s Country Inn - Arielle’s Country Inn, 740 Allentown Rd, Sellersville, PA [4 - 7 pm]

For more details on any of these events, please go to our full calendar, Food Events in Bucks County. Follow Bucks County Taste also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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Come to the first ever Lambertville NiteFare! This Thursday, June 12, from 5 pm to 10 pm, 14 Lambertville area restaurants, 15 food trucks and a pop-up beer garden courtesy of Yards Brewery will set up shop on North Union Street in Lambertville. The event will celebrate the diversity and caliber of Lambertville’s restaurants while giving new visitors an opportunity to experience what Lambertville has to offer.

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You’ve heard of farm-to-table. How about garden-to-table?

Over four years ago I wrote an article, Getting local food on the local table, about area chefs who were sourcing locally for their ingredients. I mentioned five restaurants and chefs, the most I could find doing it at the time. Today, there must be over two dozen restaurants in Bucks and nearby sourcing locally to some degree. I’ve lost count. Yes, this has been a national trend, but we here in Bucks County are especially fortunate to have so much good food growing at our doorstep.

Restaurant gardens are another big trend. More and more restaurants are planting gardens just yards away from the kitchen. Could you get more local or fresh?

YI Garden SignAs you are cruising on River Road through Lower Makefield, keep your eyes open for a small sign announcing the Yardley Inn’s Canal Side Kitchen Garden. In 2011, the garden was started on a patch of land a few miles north of the Inn, right on River Road .

The “garden” is now 6000 square feet of beds, producing herbs, vegetables and fruit for the restaurant. It’s a dream that has finally come to life for the Yardley Inn and especially for executive chef Eben Copple.

Copple is impassioned about preservation of area agriculture and using only fresh and natural products in his cuisine. “The ability to raise my own produce and see the process through from the seed to the plate is amazing,” says Copple. The Inn also has a Riverside Garden just across the road from the restaurant with herbs and pickling cucumbers, convenient to the kitchen.

YI Escarole photo credit Lynne GoldmanLast year, the Inn hired Sue Schneck to manage the farm. Schneck, a Penn State Extension Master Gardener for over 15 years, works closely with Copple to plan the season’s produce.

“Last year we grew a lot of different things, but the restaurant goes through a lot of produce and needs more,” explains Schneck. This year the plan is to focus on key crops like greens, beans, and tomatoes, and to produce enough to satisfy the Inn’s kitchen. But you’ll also see on the menu beets, radicchio, escarole, radishes, peas, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, blueberries and raspberries. Copple asked Schneck to plant three types of tomatoes—heirloom varieties, tomatoes for slicing and plum tomatoes for sauces.

While not certified organic, Schneck is following organic practices on the farm. With help from three part-timers, Kelley Cosgrove, Bradley Bumgardner and Ben Cohen, they weed by hand and hoe rather than use pesticides. Schneck has been improving the soil with more organic matter, including compost created from the restaurant’s food waste and horse manure from an organic farm in New Jersey. The woods surrounding the garden provide lots of bees, says Schneck, which is great for pollination. In the fall, Schneck plants a cover crop of rye to replenish the soil and keep the weeds down.

Earl’s Bucks County was one of the first Bucks restaurants to “go local.” Their garden is entering its fifth year. I remember looking at it with executive general manager David Zuckerman when it was no more than 500 square feet. I wasn’t impressed. Now the garden is 1800 square feet, has its own water source and is producing heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, dino kale and more for executive chef Bill Murphy’s menu. And the mint in your mojito? It was harvested that morning just yards away.

Earl’s is also following organic practices. The garden’s compost comes from the kitchen’s food waste. Peace Tree Farms in Upper Bucks supplies organically grown seedlings. Bugs are controlled by the introduction of beneficial microorganisms and insects.

Bowman's garden_beans_photo credit Lynne GoldmanBowman’s Tavern is another restaurant that has “gone local.” Owners/chefs James Seward and Michael Livelsberger bought the popular restaurant and bar in the winter of 2013 (see Bowman’s Tavern: The same yet new). In addition to revamping the menu, their goal was to introduce seasonal dishes and source ingredients as local as possible.

Now local includes their own garden, planned and planted by Seward’s wife, Christine. Standing among the raised beds, mulched down with straw, I saw the future of my meals at Bowman’s.

Heirloom tomatoes and little green cherry tomatoes waiting for the sun and a bit more rain. Red leaf lettuce, eggplant, radishes, beets, daikon, garlic, peppers, beans, squash, cucumbers, peas, onions, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts and strawberries. Thyme, mints, lemon verbena, parsley, oregano, sage, rosemary and, of course, basil, are interspersed among the vegetables along with edible flowers like calendula and nasturtium. While the 900 square foot garden is only in its first season, you can imagine what it will look like in a few years when the perennial herbs have really taken hold.

James Seward leaves the gardening to Christine. His chef’s mind is racing ahead to what they’ll be able to make with the garden’s bounty, like garlic confit, or Thai basil with melon, a combination Seward came upon by chance a few years ago on the cutting board, and gets all dreamy-eyed when he thinks of it. Although the garden can’t currently produce enough for the regular menu, you’ll find all this wonderful produce in Bowman’s weekend specials, says Seward.

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The Yardley Inn
82 E Afton Ave.
Yardley, PA

PH: 215.493.3800
WEB: www.yardleyinn.com

Earl’s Bucks County
Peddler’s Village
Lahaska, PA
PH: 215.794.4020
WEB: www.peddlersvillage.com

Bowman’s Tavern
1600 River Rd
New Hope, PA
PH: 215.862.2972
WEB: www.bowmanstavernrestaurant.com

LMFM_logo

The Lower Makefield Farmers’ Market opens for the 2014 season TODAY, Thursday, June 5. The market is open every Thursday, rain or shine, from 3:30 to 6:30 pm.

Among the stands you will find: seasonal produce, meat, cheese, eggs, baked goods, jams and jellies, prepared food made from local ingredients, homemade soaps, alpaca wool products, and even treats for any four-legged friends in your life! Visitors will also be able to sharpen their cutlery on the third Thursday of each month with Neil’s Sharpening Service.

radishes_Promised Land_May 24The weekly vendors will be:

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It’s another gorgeous forecast for this weekend. How I love these June days. I think back fondly to them in July and August when we are wallowing in the humidity and heat. (And, no, I will never wish it was winter, even in the midst of the heat!]. What’s on this week? A BBQ competition, summer cooking and pick-your-own strawberries.

2014_que for the troops_logo_webBarbecue for a really good cause. Come out this Saturday for Que For The Troopsan annual event with a barbecue competition, car show, military and antique vehicle show, live music, craft vendors, food, and kids entertainment. All proceeds benefit Liberty U.S.O., which serves Philadelphia and South Jersey. The event is held at Falls Township Community Park, 9125 Mill Creek Rd., Levittown, PA.  Enjoy a great weekend and support our troops. For more information, see the website here www.queforthetroops.com or their Facebook page.

Summer cooking. Want to add some new recipes to your repertoire this summer? Here are some interesting and fun cooking classes happening in the next few weeks.

Tomorrow, Thursday, June 5, sign up for Great Grilling for Heart Healthy Meals at Carlow Cookery in Doylestown (more info here). Casa Casale is also offering a class tomorrow on Roman Classics Cooking at their store in Peddler’s Village. The menu includes Braised Jerusalem Artichokes, Porchetta alla Romana, Gnocchi alla Romana, and Strawberry Gelato. For more information, see their Facebook page.

Cocktails_umbrellasThe Cooking Cottage in Sellersville is hosting a Summer Cocktail Party Cooking Class on this Friday. This should be fun. All of their classes include 1.5 hours of instruction followed by a meal with the recipes just demonstrated. This class focuses on finger food recipes, like  Pizzettes with Fontina, Tomato, Basil & Prosciutto and Grilled Farmer’s Market Quesadillas, and cocktails, like Green Tea Mint Mojitos and Blueberry Lavender Vodka Spritzers. On June 19, the Italian Summer class will explore no-oven-required Italian dishes like grilled pizzas, Prosciutto-Wrapped Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breasts and fresh pasta.

Start getting ready for Father’s Day at the Vintage Grille in Fountainville on June 10 with the latest in their series of cooking classes, The Cook & Cork: Father’s Day BBQ. The class will  feature a cooking demonstration along with wine pairing and meal. Topics include how to select the best meat, marinades, sauces and rubs, and using woods for flavorings. The menu looks great: Homemade BBQ Sauce, Aromatic dry rub, Soy and Honey-marinated Flank Steak, Cedar Plank Salmon, Grilled Heirloom Vegetables, and Grilled Pineapple with Coconut Sorbet. Click here for more information and to register.

Blooming Glen Farm strawberries, photo credit Lynne GoldmanTo market, to market. Here’s what you can expect to find at local farmers markets this week: Strawberries! Also asparagus (maybe), beets, chives and chive flowers, cilantro, dill, endive, escarole, fennel, French breakfast radishes, green garlic, kale , kohlrabi, lettuce, lettuce mix, mint, mushrooms, radishes, rosemary, spinach, spring onions, sugar snap peas, Swiss chard, and Hakurei turnips. 

You’ll also be able to pick up eggs from free-range chickens, grass-fed and pastured meats, preserves, specialty foods, baked goods like breads, cakes, cookies and pastries, cheese and yogurt, locally roasted coffee, and interesting crafts from local artisans.

The 2014 Strawberry Report. We’ve checked with area farms and compiled a list of who has strawberries and where you can pick-your-own. Click here for Pick-your-own strawberries in Bucks.

This weekend stop by Shady Brook Farm in Morrisville/Yardley for their annual Strawberry Fun Days on Saturday and Sunday. At the Newtown Presbyterian Church they’ll be selling lots of strawberry goodies at their Strawberry Festival too, on Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm. Proceeds benefit the historic church.

Coming up… Don’t wait to get your tickets to these upcoming events…they may sell out.

  • June 12: Lambertville NiteFare - North Union Street, Lambertville, NJ [5 - 8 pm]
  • June 14: 2nd Annual Brews & Bites - Pennsbury Manor, 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road, Morrisville, Pa [4 - 8 pm]
  • June 22: Enabled Table Farm Supper Benefit - Bobolink Dairy, Stamets Road, Milford, NJ [1 - 5 pm]
  • June 22: Wine Pairing at Arielle’s Country Inn - Arielle’s Country Inn, 740 Allentown Rd, Sellersville, PA [4 - 7 pm]

For more details on any of these events, please go to our full calendar, Food Events in Bucks County. Follow Bucks County Taste also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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strawberry signIt’s strawberry season! Just think of biting into a juicy, ripe, berry that doesn’t need a tractor-trailer to reach your mouth!

Nearly every farm we’ve spoken to will not have pick-your-own strawberries until the second week of June. It’s a late season this year because the nights have been so cold.

There are farms that do have their strawberries for sale, even though the pick-your-own patches aren’t ready. Many farms have berries that are already picked, but picking your own is a lot of fun (and usually cheaper).

If you’re heading out to one of the many local farms that have PYO strawberries, here are some tips that may help:

  • Always call before showing up at the farm (especially this early in the season). Depending on the weather, berries may not be ripe or may be picked out. Ask them if you need to bring your own containers. It isn’t a bad idea to check out a farm’s website, which usually has good information.
  • Only pick firm, plump and fully red berries. Unripe strawberries won’t ripen after being picked. Grasp the stem just above the berry, between the forefinger and thumbnail. Then pull, with a slight twisting motion. Be gentle putting them in the container.
  • Help out the farmers by removing any rotten, bug-eaten or other “bad” berries. Rot will spread quickly to the “good” berries.
  • As far as strawberries are concerned, size DOESN’T matter. As long as they are completely red, they’re good to pick. Some even say that the smaller berries taste better.
  • The best time to pick strawberries is early on a cool, cloudy day. They’ll last longer than in the heat. Plus, you won’t end up looking like a berry from sunburn!
  • Once picked, keep them out of the sun and heat as much as possible. Cool them down as soon as you can. And never wash them until you’re ready to use them—moisture will hasten rotting. Here are some other tips on cleaning strawberries properly.
  • Try not to pile the berries more than 5 inches deep in your container. The ones on the bottom will start to bruise from the weight.
  • Don’t pick more than you’re going to use. Strawberries will quickly mold at room temperature and will only last a couple of days in the fridge. If you’re not going to use them right away, wash them, cut off the hulls and freeze them in a zipper bag (be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible).

Now that you know the ins and outs of PYO strawberries, it’s time to head to the farm. Here’s a list of some of the many Bucks County farms that offer PYO:

Brumbaugh’s Farm 2575 County Line Rd., Telford, PA 18969, 215.723.3508. Pick your own should start in early June.

Hellerick’s Family Farm 5500 Easton Rd. (Rt. 611), Doylestown, PA 18902, 215.766.8388. Strawberries for sale in early June.

Manoff Market Gardens 3157 Comfort Rd., Solebury, PA 18963, 215.297.8220. Strawberries available for purchase now. Pick your own will start around June 12.

None Such Farm Market 4458 York Rd. (Rt. 263), Buckingham, PA 18912, 215.794.5201. Strawberries available for purchase now. Pick your own starts Thursday, June 5.

Peace Valley Winery 300 Old Limekiln Rd., Chalfont, PA 18914, 215.249.9058. Pick your own starts Saturday, May 31.

Penn Vermont Fruit Farm Rt. 113 & Rolling Hills Rd., Bedminster, PA 18910, 215.795.2475. Pick your own projected to start in early June.

Sandy Ridge Farm Market 925 Sandy Ridge Road, Doylestown, PA, 215.340.1042. Because they planted late variety strawberries, they are not yet ready this season. Best to call ahead for availability.

Shady Brook Farm 931 Stony Hill Rd., Yardley, PA 19067, 215.968.1670. Pick your own strawberries now! Any time the market is open.

Solly’s Farm Market 707 Almshouse Rd., Ivyland, PA 18974, 215.357.2850. Strawberries available for purchase now. Pick your own starts in early June. Call ahead to find out.

Tabora Farm & Orchard 1104 Upper Stump Rd., Chalfont, PA 18914, 215.249.3016. Pick your own starts the second week in June.

The Market at Del Val by Shady Brook Farm 2100 Lower State Road, Doylestown, PA 18901, 215-230-7170. Pick your own strawberries – special event June 7 and 8.

Trauger’s Farm Market Rt. 611, Kintnersville, PA 18930, 610.847.5702. Strawberries available for purchase now. Pick your own projected to start first week in June.

If we missed any, PLEASE let us know. We’ll update the post.

Thanks to Rich Baringer for the original version of this post, and to Sarah Wingert for doing the research.

This post was updated on June 2, 2014

Something smells good at the Pineville Tavern.

PVT BBQ sign

When we popped into the Pineville this past Wednesday evening, we saw a smoker going out back. What a great sight. So what does this mean? It means that executive chef Drew Abruzzese is having some fun with the smoker that the restaurant bought last year, and putting it to good use.

As the weather turns warmer, the patio at the Pineville Tavern beckons. Now you’ve got another good reason to sit out there.

Beginning this Sunday, the Pineville will be serving up barbecue on their patio. Sit down, fill out a menu card and the server will bring you your choice of smoked beef brisket, pork ribs, smoked chicken, smoked sausage. Meats range from $6 – $9 per portion, and sides are available “cafeteria-style.” The barbecue will only be available out on the patio, however. And if you don’t want barbecue, you can still order from the regular menu outside.

PVT BBQ platter at Wrightstown Farmers Market; photo credit Lynne Goldman

You’ll also find the Pineville Tavern dishing out barbecue at the Wrightstown Farmers Market every Saturday morning (with the exception of June 7). They offer St. Louis-style ribs, and sandwiches with beef brisket, smoked chicken, pulled pork and smoked sausage, all served on a brioche bun. Sides include very good mac’n cheese, cole slaw, baked beans and cornbread. My favorite is the breakfast sandwich—egg, cheese and bacon on a brioche bun. I get some pulled pork on it too. I think it is going to become my regular Saturday morning breakfast.

The Pineville’s regular menus are also sporting some new dishes. A revamped menu launched this past April with contemporary additions such as Fried Oysters with jalapeno and roasted garlic remoulade, a House Charcuterie PlateJumbo Lump Crabmeat RisottoGrilled Ahi Tuna with a sweet soy vinaigrette, and Escargot among the offerings. Joining the Pineville’s famous appetizer, the Buffalo Chicken Egg Roll, are two new creations: a Corned Beef Reuben Egg Roll and a Meatball Parmesan Egg Roll.

The new menu is the result of a collaboration between Abruzzese and consulting chef Matt Levin (Lacroix, Moonlight, Aureole, Brulee Catering). Abruzzese and Levin have known each other professionally for more than fifteen years, ever since their successful collaboration at Moonlight in New Hope, which received a coveted three-bell review from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

escargot_Pineville Tavern“When we decided to bring new and innovative dishes to Pineville Tavern, the first person I thought of working with was Matt. He is a brilliant chef and we have a history of collaboration that speaks for itself,” said Abruzzese. “I’ve worked in kitchens for more than fifteen years, and I’ve known Matt the whole time. I know that two heads are better than one, so we played around with recipes, experimenting with new techniques, different flavors, and simplicity. The end result is a product that we are both really proud to present.”

“We were anxious to try something new after decades of perfecting our family tradition,” said Abruzzese, who has an explicit understanding of the culinary road maps of Philadelphia, Bucks County, and beyond. “I have been travelling and tasting and exploring, not just here but abroad as well. With every bite I take, I think of Pineville Tavern and I think about how we can do this better, and now, finally, it’s all here. We have brought this contemporary inspiration to our home and are beyond excited to serve our guests something new. ”

The beverage program has undergone a massive revamp as well; with an affordable wine list, 77 new craft bottles and four rotating draft lines including an IPA, a Weissbier, and two seasonal taps.

Pineville Tavern strives to be eclectic, to showcase variety, and to evolve. “Who says we can’t serve escargot next to a patty melt next to ravioli,” said owner Andrew Abruzzese. “As long as everything on the menu is crafted to perfection and built to taste, then we stand behind our menu and proudly serve it with the Pineville Tavern name.”

The Pineville Tavern
Route 413/Durham Road
Pineville, PA
PH: 215.598.3890
WEB: www.pinevilletavern.com
Click here for the new dinner menu.

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canned goodsSure, you can cook. But can you fix up a healthy, nutritious meal using only items available in local food pantries?

For the entire month of May, families, churches, local businesses and others collected non-perishable food and hearty produce for the Bucks County Opportunity Council’s (BCOC) second annual Adopt-A-Pantry project, a county-wide food drive to benefit more than 30 food pantries.

Adopt-a-Pantry 2014 ensures that pantries are well stocked for the summer, when shelves often go bare. This is the time of year when children are home from school and not able to eat a free or reduced–price school lunch or breakfast, on which many Bucks County families depend.

With an increased focus on providing healthy, nutritious food for pantry visitors, this year’s project collected hearty produce that won’t spoil and is easy to transport, such as apples, citrus fruits, potatoes, onions and garlic, or herbs and spices, in addition to the usual nonperishable goods.

cooking class_ chef-cuttingPantry Cook-Off. In order to make sure these healthy foods are put to good use, the BCOC and United Way Bucks are hosting a cook-off from 10 – 11 am  on Friday, May 30 to challenge members of the community to make tasty, nutritious meals using ingredients that can be found in Bucks County food pantries. These include Bucks Knock Out (BKO) Hunger prepackaged meals, non-perishable items and hearty produce. The best recipes will be distributed at the food pantries to help visitors spice up their meals.

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strawberry signThe big news this week? Local strawberries have been sighted. I know for sure that Milk House Farm Market in Upper Makefield has them (and they are spray-free). I’ll make some calls later this week to see what the forecast is for other berry-producing farms in Bucks. You can also check out our pasts post on where to pick your own: Strawberry time again. Bucks County Farmers Markets; photo credit Lynne GoldmanTo market, to market. Four seasonal farmers markets are opening this week! The Plumsteadville Grange Farm Market opens this Saturday, May 31. The Langhorne Farmers Market opens on Tuesday, June 3. In Feasterville, the Farmers’ Market @ Playwicki Farm opens on Wednesday and on Thursday, June 6, the Lower Makefield Farmers’ Market opens for the season. For a full list of all area farmers markets (on both sides of the river), see our food guide, Local Farmers Markets.

Sandy Ridge Farm logoA big Happy Anniversary to the Sandy Ridge Farm Market in Doylestown Township. This Friday and Saturday the year-round market is celebrating its first anniversary of providing fresh, local food from area farmers and producers. They will also be introducing the Amish Market, an addition that includes Amish deli meat and cheeses, many bulk foods, homemade fudge and bakery goods and pretzels freshly made right in Doylestown. On Saturdays, beginning on May 31, they are also celebrating with a Chicken BBQ from 1 pm to 4 pm. For more information, see their website.

What you’ll find at area farmers markets this week Sugar Snap peas_BGF_photo credit Lynne Goldman Strawberries, sugar snap peas, escarole, asparagus, spring onions, spring garlic, Swiss chard, spinach, young kale (Red Russian and Tuscan), fennel, bok choy, napa cabbage, head lettuce, chives, rhubarb, rosemary, mint, dill, cilantro, lettuce, lettuce mix, radishes, mushrooms, onion and leek plants, and more, all depending on the weather, of course.

You’ll also be able to pick up eggs from free-range chickens, grass-fed and pastured meats, preserves, specialty foods, baked goods like breads, cakes, cookies and pastries, cheese and yogurt, locally roasted coffee, and interesting crafts from local artisans.

Barbecue season is officially open! Stop by the Stockton Fire Company on Saturday, May 31 from 4 pm to 7 pm for their annual Bar-B-Que & Beer Fundraiser. On Sunday, June 1  head over to the Chalfont Fire Company’s annual Chicken BBQ, going on from 11 am to 4 pm, or until they sell out.

See the full food calendar for details on either of these events.

Coming up… Don’t wait to get your tickets to these upcoming events…they may sell out

  • June 7: Garces Foundation Summer Barbecue at Chef Jose Garces’ Luna Farm in Ottsville [2 - 5 pm]
  • June 7: Lobster Fest 2014 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Solebury [4 - 8 pm]
  • June 14: 2nd Annual Brews & Bites – Pennsbury Manor, 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road, Morrisville, Pa [4 - 8 pm]
  • June 22: Enabled Table Farm Supper Benefit – Bobolink Dairy, Stamets Road, Milford, NJ [1 - 5 pm]
  • June 22: Wine Pairing at Arielle’s Country Inn – Arielle’s Country Inn, 740 Allentown Rd, Sellersville, PA [4 - 7 pm]

For more details on any of these events, please go to our full calendar, Food Events in Bucks County. Follow Bucks County Taste also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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The Doylestown Inn is alive again.

If you’ve lived in Bucks County for 10 or more years, you know that the Doylestown Inn on State Street has been kind of quiet. That’s about to change.

The Hattery Stove & Still, an upscale yet comfy restaurant, is opening on May 27, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and a late-night menu 7 days a week. Once again, the Inn will be alive with good food, good spirits and good vibes, all thanks to a group of friends and business partners who had vision.

“The building chose us,” says Todd McCarty, who with his wife, Samantha McCarty, and business partners, Donna and Ronald C. Isgate, Esq. and Jody Quigley bought the Doylestown Inn in 2012. Initially, the plan was to sell the building, but they couldn’t. So they set about restoring the Inn, first by renovating the eleven guest rooms in March 2013.

But what about the restaurant? “The Inn kind of skipped a decade,” explains Todd McCarty. “The previous owners did all the mechanical stuff but they took out the bar and restaurant. The Inn had a long history of food and drink and it was time to bring that back.”

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The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was erected in the late 19th century and opened as The Doylestown Inn in 1902. “When we researched the property’s history we found that the building housed a hattery, a cigar shop, served as an inn, and operated as a speakeasy during prohibition,” explains Isgate.

“We decided to celebrate everything that this property has been throughout its life,” adds Shannon O’Neil McGuire-Rost, who with her husband, Daryl Rost, conceived the restaurant’s concept and oversaw the renovation. “It was important to all of us to build a destination for Doylestown that celebrates the town’s rich history. We’ve even built a jug into one of the walls to pay tribute to the Jug In The Wall — a tavern that opened with the inn in 1902 and operated until the late 1990s.”

The bi-level restaurant can seat 150, but it doesn’t feel that big. It is full of intimate, smaller spaces that feel cozier. The décor is “antique industrial,” honoring the history of the building with period pieces. The pumpkin pine floorboards are reclaimed wood. Look for an antique still, a collection of burlap coffee bags, a wall of vintage suitcases, dozens of cigar boxes, a player piano, a collection of period photos from around the region dating back over a hundred years, a circa 1920 ice chest, a “speakeasy” side door complete with sliding peep hole, and a custom-designed hat tree that rises from the lower level floor boards and spans two stories, adorned with vintage hats.

You’ll also see vintage hats, converted into lights, hanging over the lobby level bar. As you walk down the steps to the lower level, read the chalkboards covering the walls, with quotes from Bucks County luminaries, like James Michener and Pearl S. Buck. And check out the 1932 Oldsmobile complete with suicide doors in the design of the lower level bar. My favorite touch is the antique chandeliers which light the lobby level space. Each sports a price tag because you buy them.

Hakeem OtenigbagbeThe menu is fun too. Chef Hakeem Otenigbagbe and sous chef Andrew Douglas have crafted a menu they call “Modern American Tavern” as another nod to the site’s history. This is not your average tavern food, though.

For appetizers, try the Hot Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Fondue, Beer Battered String Beans and Trumpets, Deviled Eggs with Dijon Cayenne, or Wild Mushroom Toast with Chive Goat Cheese. For starters, you can choose the Golden Beet Terrine, Scottish Salmon Tartare, or the Grilled Octopus Confit (don’t worry; there’s a really delicious-looking Chopped Salad for those of you who want something a little more sedate).

Even the burgers and sandwiches are full of interesting twists. The Deluxe Burger comes on a brioche bun with tomato compote, shallot mustard marmalade and herb fries. There is also an Ahi Tuna Burger and Chipotle Shrimp Tacos.

For entrees, you’ve got some tough choices. The Chicken Pot Pie with a cheddar biscuit top, caught my eye, as did the Vegetable Bipimbap, a dish that I have only had in a Korean restaurant. One of chef Otenigbagbe’s specialties is the Steam Skate, served with fennel puree, hearts of palm, green and white asparagus, black trumpet mushroom and a gooseberry saffron sauce. For more fish, try the Crisp Skin Scottish Salmon or Grilled Branzino.

For the carnivores, there is a Grilled Filet Mignon, Lamb Chops and a Strip Steak. And even the pasta looks great:  Three Cheese Ravioli with wild mushroom, plum tomato sauce, pecorino and marjoram and a Tagliatelle black pasta with shellfish, celery, cherry tomato, crumbled garlic bread, and a Pernod sauce.

For the inspiration behind the menu, look to executive chef Otenigbagbe (pron: O-ten-a-bob-ey). The thirty-four year old chef emigrated from Nigeria to New York with his family when he was 11 years old. After attending the French Culinary Institute in 2004, Otenigbagbe spent a year working for Thomas Keller at Per Se in Manhattan in 2005. After departing Per Se, he joined Chef Tom Colicchio at Craftsteak in New York, and then became a private chef until 2009 when he moved to Philadelphia to join Union Trust as a Sous Chef and then Chef de Cuisine. Until recently, he has been commuting to New York to work for BR Guest Hospitality while living in Philadelphia with his family.

What does he think of Doylestown? “This place is perfect. Everyone knows each other and it’s so family-oriented,” Otenigbagbe says. He’s also looking forward to locally sourcing  ingredients for the restaurant.

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For the bar flies among you, you’re going to enjoy the Signature Cocktail menu and the 14 draught beer taps in the lower level bar filled with good American craft beer.

You may also recognize some of the bar and wait staff. General Manager Cherri Horsman has recruited some of the best restaurant professionals in the area. At the opening party last night, this was clearly evident. The staff was attentive, friendly and professional. Although it was the first time the restaurant was in full gear, everything worked smoothly and everyone was pleasant.

As we made our way out, folks were standing out in front of the Inn, talking and enjoying the spring evening. There was a buzz, and I thought, how nice to see this sidewalk alive again. I’m sure the spirits of the Doylestown Inn past were also pretty pleased.

The Hattery Stove & Still
18 W. State Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
PH: 215.345.6610
Facebook: Hattery-Stove-Still
Twitter: HatteryDtown

See the HatteryDinnerMenu here.
See the HatteryDrinkMenu here.

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