Monday, December 29, 2008

Bonefish Grill

I might have been the last person in the Lehigh Valley to go to Bonefish Grill (901 Lehigh Valley Mall)! We have thought about it a few times but they're not open for lunch, and we're not usually in Whitehall at night. When I showed up at 7 to meet my friend Lori for a snack and a drink, I had to stalk someone for a parking space, and there was an hour wait - on a MONDAY! I knew there must be something special about this place.

I also bumped into Krista and Pedro, who were there to use their gift certificate, and we stealthily snagged four seats at the bar. They even knew the bartender. They might be the unofficial mayors of the Lehigh Valley. :)

I digress - meanwhile, Lori was driving around Macarthur Rd, texting that there was an hour wait at just about all the miserable chain joints as well. We finally met up back at Bonefish. Sigh!

We both ordered glasses of wine; the Robert Mondavi Private Select Cabernet Sauvignon for me, Blue Moon Riesling for her. The featured wine list by-the-bottle was impressive.

The menu is fairly extensive, and features a number of fish which you can pair with a sauce and sides of your choice. Lori had the Ahi tuna sashimi, sesame seared, sliced with wasabi and pickled ginger. I ordered a dorado (mahi mahi) sandwich, grilled Cajun Style and served with chips on the side. Both dishes used a tasty spicy aioli "special" sauce. We split the tab and it came to about $25/pp.

Check out the full menu here.

I meant to take a photo of the interior and especially Krista's to-go box, which featured a little hand-drawn "bonefish" cartoon and note from our server. I'll definitely go back again, though probably at off-hours!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Billy's Downtown Diner

My co-worker Mia goes to Billy's (10 East Broad St., Bethlehem) all the time and mentioned it recently, so I resolved to go. I have been there a few times on weekend mornings, and the number of people lined up for tables (especially on home game weekends at Lehigh and Moravian) is an indicator of just how good it is. I really like cooking breakfast and brunch, though, so we usually don't go out for breakfast except with my in-laws, who prefer Perkins.

It was the first diner in the Lehigh Valley to go smoke free, which I appreciate. The interior is bright and cozy, with lots of little booths in the front and bigger tables and a counter in the back.

I was not surprised to run into Mia, her boyfriend Nick and their friends this morning when I arrived. Becky and I took a while to order because we couldn't decide - there are so many yummy-looking dishes (and novelties like Fruit Loops - the only cereal they serve, "and why not?"). I settled on a Green Eggs and Ham (with spinach and basil pesto - only the eggs are green) sandwich, and tea. Yum. Becky had eggs, toast and bacon and a glass of milk and the whole meal came to about $15.00.

Get there early. Mia's insider tip is that you can usually get a seat at the counter in the back if you're starving. Billy's often there (he wasn't this morning - though his mom was working the cash register) and you can pick up a copy of his cookbook.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Starbuck Goldner Tile

We are in the market for a backsplash for our 'new' kitchen. We were inspired by our fireplace tiles and might do something similar. Here are some photos of our fireplace...

A neighbor recommended I pay a visit to Starbuck Goldner tile (315 West Fourth Street in South Bethlehem). I finally did today and saw some beautiful tiles! The artists make custom ceramic tile and have installed tile in most of our neighbors' homes.

Did you know there was a difference between the Moravian and Bethlehem stars?!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Glen Anthony Designs

My volunteer gig at Lehigh has led me to working on a redecorating project. That is, we are making a few utility rooms into functional and beautiful study spaces for students.

I had heard positive things about Glen Anthony Designs (24 E 3rd St Unit 2 on the South Side of Bethlehem), and I figured they were so close that it was a good place to start. I learned from their web site that the owners are Lehigh Valley transplants from DC like us. Ha!

I called to set up a date and time to meet and check out the space. I was told that the firm did the interior decorating for Drinky's in Easton so I figured they could handle a hundred square feet of a sorority house.

So despite the condition (or maybe because of it) GAD color guru Marcia Ballek helped me and three extremely stylish college students select some furniture, curtains, wallpaper and paint color until we were literally exhausted from looking at swatches.

If you are like me, you avoid places like this because the prices are outrageous and you don't know whether you are going to be leeched upon by a pushy salesperson (a la Raymour & Flanigan - love you R&F, but you should pay your salespeople more). There are some pricey pieces for sure, but there were also some unique, beautiful items (on sale!) you probably can't find anywhere else in the Valley.

I adored the team for their patience with our group as we evaluated 10,000 wallpaper options and questions about fabrics. Since we were in the showroom for two hours, we saw quite a few shoppers dropping in to check out the sale, and to meet with Marcia about projects she was working on for them, but the store never felt chaotic or crowded. The blueprints on the drafting table showed an entire home they were redecorating.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Civic Theatre of Allentown, Wert's Cafe

I checked out the Civic Theatre's performance of "A Christmas Carol" for the first time last year. I - Loved - It.

I loved it in the way people love community theatre, the way people love "A Christmas Carol," and the way people love traditions. Maybe a little cheesy. Maybe a little amateur. But downright cute. I resolved to bring my parents next year.

I think I ordered the tickets in September or October, and as the date approached, I made plans to meet my parents for dinner beforehand.

Mom suggested Wert's Cafe, which I had heard of, but had never seen. It's at 515 N 18th St in the West End of Allentown, sort of behind Ringer's Roost and a block from the Fairgrounds. No web site, but believe me, they don't need one. There was a wait when we arrived, and there was a wait when we left. This is the kind of neighborhood restaurant every neighborhood needs. A friendly server, a menu with all kinds of tasty traditional dishes, and a wine list that reads:
Pinot Grigio
White Zinfandel

Love it. I ordered the Wert's Cheeseburger, which comes with onions and mushrooms. Yum. We also shared a basket of "onion rings" which was really a MOUNTAIN of "onion strings," half of which wrapped up to bring home. We walked the block-and-a-half to the theater.
The performance at the Civic was adorable, just like last year. When I tell you that the cast is more than 100 people, and more than half of those people are under the age of 13, I hope that you will appreciate just how adorable.
The theater has seen better days, and it's the kind of community asset that cherishes every $50 donation, you can tell by the programs. I saw "Tuesdays with Morrie" in their black box theater across the street last year, and really enjoyed it. They also screen indie films, which always look interesting but tend to be the kind of movies I rent on Netflix. I should make a point to go to the Civic now and then.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Louie's Restaurant

It's always a good sign when someone from outside the area recommends a restaurant. Especially if they have never even been there - only tasted their jarred marinara sauce (which is/was apparently sold at Wegman's).

That's how I discovered Louie's (2071 31st St, SW, Allentown, just off Lehigh Street). And its location, about halfway between my office and that of my friend Stephanie's, was perfect. Stephanie had never been, and I had never experienced their much-revered lunch buffet.

The Belletieri family has been serving up homestyle southern Italian fare since 1958. They have had a little time to perfect their sauce, because it-is-awesome. The variety wasn't too extensive, but there was obviously homemade pasta fagioli (basically veggie noodle soup for you non-Italians - don't be scared) and a couple of different pasta dishes, along Italian Baked Chicken on the bone, Meatballs & Sausage, antipasto, a couple of sides, and a small salad bar. You can order off the menu but it didn't look like anyone was. The menu features pizzas, pastas and the traditional fare.

The service was terrific, especially for a place where I'd guess 100% of people "do" the buffet. We were there on Ravioli Day, which our server told us was his favorite (wondered if he says that every day?). Not only was the food hot and fresh, but we had our check and were out the door in under 45 minutes, with a total bill under $25 for two buffet tickets and two sodas. Nice. You can also purchase some of Louie's famous sauces at the restaurant if you can't find it at Wegman's.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Triumph Brewing Company - New Hope

Our friends Jill and John live in southern New Jersey, so a great halfway point to meet up is New Hope, PA, and Lambertville, NJ, right across the river from one another.

I'm not too familiar with the places that are cool to go to in New Hope, so I did a little research. Triumph Brewing Company (400 Union Square, New Hope) was one of the sponsors/exhibitors at the Lehigh Valley Brewfest, so we thought we'd give them some business.

The entrance was not easy to find in the dark. When we found the shopping center (which looks like a train station FYI) we parked and paid at the parking lot's payment machine, then walked back to our card to deposit the slip on the dash. We could see the huge silver brewing casks (casks? did I just write that?) from afar but couldn't figure out how to get in. I don't know if we came in the back way or what, but we finally saw a dimly lit directional sign and headed down the steps.

Inside, the place was pretty busy for a Sunday night. The bar was full, and our friends were perched at the end with fresh beers in hand. The restaurant was filled with families and young professional types like us, all casually-dressed. We had a reservation, and were seated quickly and our server came by to order our drinks. When one of us had a question about the menu, she admitted this was her second day and she had no idea, but she'd check. She came back with the answer and we all ordered.

Sadly, my namesake sandwich wasn't appealing: turkey, coleslaw, swiss, and russian dressing on grilled marbled rye. And I also wasn't in the mood for PB&J - I'm not kidding, there was a sandwich with house-made peanut butter and lingonberry preserves on raisin walnut bread. So I ordered the brewhouse burger, served with onion rings, ipa barbecue sauce, apple wood bacon, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, and fries. We all shared an appetizer of calamari and Eric had tasty potato leek soup. The beers were gooood, which might be why I can't remember what everyone else ordered. :) My Oktoberfest was cold, fresh and nicely spiced for fall (which is almost over!!). Everyone enjoyed their meals, and the bill for the four of us came to about $80.00 including drinks, tax and tip.