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Oct 23, 2013 07:00 AM

Restaurants worth reviewing?

With the exception of some Pittsburgh interactions there is little activity on this board considering it covers the entire state of PA outside of Philadelphia.

What are your thoughts regarding the lack of interest here?

-Few restaurants worth the effort?
-PA people outside the major metro areas just don't care about the subjects here?
Where to find duck? Breakfast between Breezewood and Johnstown? Thanksgiving in Jim Thorpe? Understandably get few responses.

What is your opinion?

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  1. I think you're quite right with some of your thoughts on the lack of activity on the PA board, particularly with regard to restaurant reviews.

    As one of the few souls covering Central PA, I'll try to be better about this. We have quite an impressive Chinese/Sichuan food scene here, with a *great* Cantonese newcomer chef as well as dim sum in the future.

    I'll make sure to write about these places more often. I just don't know if anyone will read it :-D

    4 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      Where are some of these great Chinese restaurants in Central PA? (crossing fingers hoping you're not from State College)

      1. re: pahiker6

        Ha. Not from, but in -- sorry to disappoint.

      2. re: linguafood

        I will read it! I want to go for Chinese tonight. Where should we go?

        1. re: melpy

          Depends on whether you are willing to drive to State College '-)

          There's Sichuan Bistro (BYOB) and Fuji Jade Garden (great cocktail bar). Chopstick Express cranks out excellent Sichuan food, but it's a hole in the wall (also BYOB).

      3. Hi - I grew up in Pgh but live outside Philly now. We end up driving back and forth a few times each year, and have taken vacations in other parts of the state (Lancaster, Poconos, etc). One thing I would love to see on this board is a list of suggested restaurants by Turnpike exit! For example, everyone knows Breezewood has every fast food chain on earth... but what if we want something better - is there anything nearby? Based on some CH suggestions a few years ago, we stopped at a Belgian restaurant in Carlisle and it was great. Having more of a "reference" for visitors may be helpful... and we visitors need to follow up and report back.

        4 Replies
        1. re: truman

          Summit Diner, Somerset. Close enough?

          1. re: truman

            So funny that people like Cafe Bruges so much. It is 5 minutes away (we used to live close enough to walk). For us the pull is the beer and we have so much beer at home it is hard to justify the price of my beloved Monks when I have a fridge full in the basement.

            My husband loves the moules frites while I jump around the menu a bit. I wish they have the lamburger more often than Saturday lunch because we don't usually go there then because we feel tipsy all afternoon. I like the frites and the waffle, the eggs benedict at brunch and the special mac and cheese they had once. We were very lukewarm on the the steak. Anyone else have dishes to recommend? We might go more often if there was a super stand out dish.

            1. re: melpy

              My husband works for a Belgian company. He especially likes to go there when the stash of brews he's brought back from work trips has run dry. Of course, in the last 2 yrs. there are more and more places to get some of the great Belgian beers - and for us, closer. Such as The Fridge in Lancaster, or even the Brass Rail in Cambelltown. Another reason we don't take the trip as often.

              We almost always get the moules frites. I also like the leek tart and the Liege salad. He seems to think a lot of their food is spot on. My first review of the place was when we took a van of 15 Belgian ex-pats. The stoemp was enjoyed, but the waterzooi deemed bland. For the most part, it was a very successful evening with our friends very happy to get some familiar foods as well as beverages they had not seen anywhere else in this country.

            2. re: truman

              i know i'm a little late, but i am new to the site. as for great places by turnpike exits, i suggest johnny's steakhouse/ kyma seafood grill on rt. 272. it's about 5 mins off of the denver/reading exit 286. the steaks rival any well known steakhouse for a portion of the price. any local will tell you that its the best restaurant around.

            3. Having lived in Philly, and now living back in Harrisburg, I can tell you that the restaurant scene in the Harrisburg area is sad. Making matters worse is that the vast majority of the people in this area are quite content with hitting up the local Applebees, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, etc for dinner, and find those establishments to be excellent in their opinion.

              1. LOL! Bacchus, I try, really I do! We haven't eaten out much lately, and not really at all since my "camp week" dining adventure. And,honestly, I haven't really heard of anything new going on that is convenient for us. I check back daily hoping I'll hear about a new spot...

                The husband and I would love to try the supper parties at Tellus 360 in Lancaster one of these days. And on the corner of Queen and Walnut, I heard there is a new bakery/cafe type place that is hosting pop-up dining experiences in the evenings. But, haven't heard about it recently.

                Like I said, since the start of school we've been too busy to go out.

                As to why no one else but a small group of us seems to care? I have to agree with PAhiker. Most people I know don't understand why I dislike Olive Garden or never take the kids to Friendly's. My husband and I just smile and cringe internally when people are all excited to go to Red Lobster for their birthday. Just the other day, another mom was selling coupon books for her son's team and said to me. But it doesn't have any of those fancy, schmancy restaurants you guys are always eating at, so you won't want one. Well, with a sales pitch like THAT....

                7 Replies
                1. re: centralpadiner

                  Oh, and about 2 hrs. after I typed this response my husband looked at me across the dinner table and said, "you know, we have not been out to a nice dinner together in a really long time!" I responded that I want to go back to Ma(i)son soon.... but, we'll see when we get the chance...

                  1. re: centralpadiner

                    Quite fortunate you are to have a husband who shares and encourages your interest in food and good dining. Understand your point regarding "get a chance". I always recall a quote on "having time" which in summary said something like: "we all have the same amount of time as Edison, Einstein, Jobs, Gates and Buffet, allocation is the difference." Feed your soul not just your body off to Ma(i)son.

                    1. re: Bacchus101

                      Sorry centralpad, did not mean to preach; just sharing some point of view. Based on past CC postings I do consider you the "go-to" hound for recs in your area.

                      1. re: Bacchus101

                        Not preachy at all Bacchus. And thank you for the compliment. But I also get lots of my info from trusted sources that have been to a location more recently than I have. I really do hope to get to Ma(i)son again soon. It is a little fancy (food wise) for the kids, and a little expensive for them to decide they don't like it, as well. So, we have to find a night out alone.

                        This harkens back to the "New to Harrisburg" thread. I know I got a little preachy with that one. Some parts (around Jan?) turned into some interesting discussion about the "non-foodie" culture of the area. And in all honesty, some of the things mentioned are actually pluses depending on your perspective - frugality and still eating family meals at home.

                        Another issue, I think, is how spread out the area is. Melpy mentions needing to go to Harrisburg from Carlisle. We would love to go to Cafe Bruges in Carlisle more often (and perhaps check out the other places with the same owners) but it is 45 minutes each way without traffic. Combine the distance with having kids with active schedules, a husband that travels regularly for work, and we get there once a year if lucky. I live in Lancaster Co. but it takes me a good 25 minutes to get downtown and 30 to get to Harrisburg. That doesn't make those areas a choice for us on a typical weeknight. Anyway, there are lots of people like us throughout the region that live in the smaller, suburban communities that can't support fine dining.

                        Each small town in Lancaster Co. seems to have one "decent" spot - some more worth going to then others. And local tastes tend to support menus that lack creativity, IMO. We like McCleary's in Marietta. It tends to be our "go to." About a 15 minute drive, it isn't terribly inconvenient. Husband and I like the beer choices and the kids can get wings and burgers while I get an excellent seared tuna with seaweed salad. But the kind of place doing new, exciting food that I want to come here and crow about? No, it's not. And that's true for most of the local favorites (that aren't chains) which tend to be pubs or "family restaurants" like Oregon Dairy.

                        1. re: centralpadiner

                          I can't remember if I recommended this to you yet or not. But, have you tried Zuckfoltzfus in Mount Joy yet? It is a very small place next to the train station. They brew their own beer and have a small menu that changes every two weeks or so. I think they should have given it a different name, but I have to say, I really enjoy their beer, food and the atmosphere. Their menu is on their facebook page.

                          1. re: sballard

                            No I haven't. I was following their story for a little bit, weren't they having licensing issues? I didn't realize that they had been able to open. We'll definitely have to check it out. Thanks!

                            And . . . I agree about that name.... LOL!!

                            1. re: centralpadiner

                              A couple of the neighbors were contesting the license because they were afraid there would be parking issues. It was silly, but was resolved when the neighbors withdrew their petitions, and the license was immediately granted. They've been open for a few months now. I went in with a bad attitude because I don't like the name or the faux Amish spin they put on things; but I have to admit they won me over. The food, beer and atmosphere were really spot on. The menu is very small, but everything I tried was really good. One of my favorite items was the homemade pretzels they make with left over grains from the beer, served with a homemade spicy mustard and tomato bacon jam which is pretty awesome. I've only been once. Been trying to get over again, but haven't had a chance to yet. This is a link to their current menu:

                2. Less to post about. Fewer people who are interested enough in food to explore and post.

                  I'm pretty lucky to live near Lancaster, which has more options than most of central PA. But we're talking about how many restaurants that I would continue to visit in New York or Philadelphia? 10? 5?

                  How many new restaurants opening per year that are worth posting about? 1? 2? Hard to discuss and debate when working with those numbers. When people ask, you try to help. When something good comes along, you try to post. But I find myself checking in less than I did when I lived in bigger cities.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ahab

                    Understand your initial point, well said. Not quite sure of your comment that you would only continue to visit 5-10 restaurants in New York or Philadelphia, really? Is that because of distance rather than lack of interesting options. One could spend a month dining a different interesting restaurants in Philly and probably a year doing the same in New York. Nice that you help when you can and post something good, very helpful even if only occasional . Interesting thanks.

                    1. re: Bacchus101

                      Meant to say that if we suddenly had all the dining options of a bigger city like NY or Philadelphia here in Lancaster, there are only 5 - 10 existing restaurants that could keep my interest in the new and improved dining landscape. Probably closer to 5. I need to stop posting in a rush! Or you need to learn how to read my mind...

                      Yes, NY could keep someone busy for a long time. I lived there 10 years ago and loved every minute. And we explore Philadelphia any chance we get now. Going to Vedge next week!