Tag Archives: brunch

Green Gables Restaurant, Jennerstown PA

Just north of the hamlet of Jennerstown, Pennsylvania lies Green Gables Restaurant and the Mountain Playhouse. The restaurant has been on the site since 1927 and was started as a sandwich shop Green Gables, Jennerstown PAby a local farmer, James Black Stoughton, who decided he had enough of milking cows. The restaurant grew section by section over the years in a rustic, eccentric style that is a testament to Mr. Stoughton’s vision. The year 1939 saw the opening of the Mountain Playhouse, a summer stock theater, which is housed in a reconstructed log grist mill moved to the site from Roxbury, PA. Most of my previous experiences with the restaurant have been of the banquet variety, the quality of which had never impressed me enough to prompt a return trip for an á la carte meal. Regular readers will recall my attachment to the classic brunch, and hearing that Green Gables offered the same, I decided on a recent Sunday to give them another go. My son Miles and I arrived about 11:30 AM and found ourselves the first arrivals of the morning. We were seated at a nice window table appointed with fresh flowers and were presented the brunch menu along with a separate drink menu featuring “summer cocktails”. No wine list was offered which surprised me, as the restaurant is listed as a Wine Spectator award winner. I inquired whether a Mimosa was available, as I did not see it on the drink menu. The server replied in the affirmative and informed me that I had been given the wrong drink menu. The drink soon arrived, and even at the rather steep price of $12, it proved to be the high point of the meal. The juice was clearly fresh squeezed and exhibited a slightly reddish tint making me think perhaps a few blood oranges had been used in the juice. If not blood oranges, I detected no other flavors that would account for the color, but possibly it was nothing more than a splash of Grenadine. Opening the menu, I found to my disappointment, that the restaurant’s idea of “brunch” was to simply add two egg dishes to a sandwich menu, one of which was really just breakfast. Green Gables, Jennerstown PAThe sole brunch choice offered was a Greek Omelet ($10) which I ordered, having no other options. In addition, in spite of the chilly morning, I ordered a cold Port Pear Soup($4). I’m not really sure why a cold soup was offered on a cold morning, but there were no other starters offered other than a few salads which appeared to be a bit more substantial than I was up for. As spinach in an omelet did not appeal to Miles, he settled for a sandwich, ordering what was billed as a Lamb Gyro ($9). The soup soon arrived and I was a bit surprised to see no garnish of any kind. Frankly, the color of the soup wasn’t striking enough to stand on its own. I could live with the lack of presentation if the soup had exhibited a solid flavor, but sadly that was not the case. I found the soup oddly flat, a fact that had me puzzled until I found a piece of incompletely puréed pear in the bottom of the cup. The fact that this piece was crunchy made clear the flatness of the soup was due to under ripe fruit. The rest of the meal took a bit longer to arrive than I would have expected given that we were the first order of the day. When finally presented, I was shocked by the appearance of both the omelet and the gyro. Green Gables, Jennerstown PAI’m not even sure how to describe the incongruity of sitting at a table with a white tablecloth, drinking a $12 Mimosa and seeing a sandwich being served wrapped in a piece of aluminum foil as if it had been purchased from a low-class food truck. The omelet served was so brown, I immediately knew I was not going to be enjoying this meal. I probably should have just refused both dishes on sight and just walked away, but that would make for a pretty short review. With trepidation, I took my first bite, and I can say without equivocation that this was the sorriest excuse for an omelet I have ever eaten in my life. I’ve had better omelets prepared on an open flattop in greasy spoon diners than what was served here. An enormous amount of liquid (milk?) had been added to the eggs, and the mixture had been cooked without any movement of the pan leading to a product more like custard than an omelet. The overcooking of the exterior left a dry skin which could be peeled from the omelet in sheets. The spinach was watery and even the sharpness of the feta could not mask the lack of seasoning in the filling. The skillet potatoes exhibited a pervasive scorched flavor which made them inedible and the toast was served dry with no butter being presented or offered. The food truck pedigree of the sandwich was confirmed when the so called “lamb” turned out to be nothing more than commercial gyro meat, a “mystery meat” product which generally is prepared with about 15% actual lamb. However, the restaurant’s heating of this “lamb” was so inept that even the food truck vendor would be embarrassed to serve it. I honestly was puzzled over how the kitchen could have some pieces of this “meat” completely fried to a crisp (as if it was bacon) and other pieces barely warm but with crisp edges. I can only surmise that they took a block of this pre-sliced product from the freezer and threw it in a deep fryer, hence the two outside pieces being totally overcooked and the inside pieces having only crisp edges. Regardless, it was awful. In addition, the yogurt-mint sauce was grainy and lacking in flavor. I will say the lettuce, cucumbers and onions in the sandwich were fresh, but that single positive note could not redeem the disaster that was the rest of the sandwich.Interior of Green Gables Restaurant Miles ordered herbal tea with his meal, and like the toast situation, not sweeteners of any kind were served with the tea nor were they offered. Neither of us bothered to finish our meals, and not one employee bothered to inquire if we had enjoyed it. I’m almost glad there was no inquiry as I was upset enough that I probably would have made a scene that I would have later regretted. The total tab for this fiasco was $51, not a paltry sum for two people. Excepting the Mimosa’s, I would not be willing to pay $5.10 for this garbage in the future.
Green Gables on Urbanspoon

Revival of Brunch at the Kitchen on Main

There was a time when the term brunch had a completely different meaning than it does today. If you go to a restaurant advertising brunch now, what you expect is a pig-out buffet which just happens to have a few pedestrian breakfast items offered in addition to the standard offerings. Previously brunch consisted of an á la carte selection of elegant egg dishes typified by the classic Eggs Benedict, and accompanied by libations such as Bloody Marys and Mimosas. This traditional version of brunch is getting harder to find, but a new restaurant in Ligonier has stepped up to fill the void. Kitchen on Main is savvy enough to use the term breakfast as opposed to brunch, eliminating the endless questions from confused patrons such as;”Where’s the buffet?” In addition to breakfast, Kitchen on Main also serves lunch, but it’s the egg dishes that makes the trip to Ligonier worthwhile. The restaurant has an open kitchen design, so I selected a seat at the counter where I could check out the action. Like their sister restaurant Out of the Fire Cafe, Kitchen on Main is a BYOB establishment.Bloody Marys at Kitchen on Main BYOB at Kitchen on Main means Build Your Own Bloody ($4), as they offer tomato juice and the ingredients to make your own Bloody Mary, or in my case a Ruddy Mary (made with Boodles Gin). The menu and Bloody Mary “fixin’s” were swiftly delivered by a friendly server and I immediately decided on the traditional Eggs Benedict ($10) from the four Benedicts offered. In addition, the menu lists several omelets, egg tacos ($11) and a smoked salmon hash ($11), which is made from the salmon smoked at Out of the Fire Cafe. The diner can also order standard breakfast items such as eggs, waffles and pancakes along with a few items for kids age 10 and under. My Eggs Benedict arrived in a flash due to the old restaurant trick of pre-poaching the eggs and then re-heating them to order. This process may sound strange to the home cook, but it is really the best method for volume cooking poached eggs. The supremely fresh eggs were perfectly poached and sat atop what was billed as country ham, but sadly was not. This is the second restaurant I’ve eaten in this month that appears to be unaware that country ham refers to a specific type of ham which is cured and has a distinctive taste. I was a bit disappointed, but the ham served was quite good and in no way detracted from the dish. The English muffin, which the eggs and ham were perched on, was clearly fresh-baked and instead of the usual toasting, it was browned on a griddle, giving a nice buttery crust. The Hollandaise sauce was nearly perfect, needing only a bit more lemon juice to make it so. The consistency of the sauce was perfect and it exhibited no signs of breaking. The Benedict was accompanied by “homefries”, a moniker which seems inadequate to describe what was served. These “homefries” were perfect, tiny rounds of fingerling potatoes fried with fresh sweet red peppers and onions, and were easily the best potatoes I’ve eaten for breakfast in this area. I think a different name should appear on the menu so the diner doesn’t assume they are getting what other restaurants call “homefries”. I finished my meal and was sorely tempted by the freshly baked Pecan Sticky Buns ($4 for 6) which had been staring at me all morning, but I didn’t think they would go well with the horseradish laden Ruddy Mary I was still working on. A few reviewers have suggested Kitchen on Main is over priced, but to make that statement a diner would have to be totally unaware of what they were eating. This was easily the best breakfast (or brunch) I’ve eaten in years and the 20 mile drive to Ligonier will pose no barrier to many return trips.
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