On the way to Annapolis for a conference last week, my colleagues and I discovered Lancaster Brewing Company in Harrisburg, PA. There's another one in Lancaster, obviously. But Amish country was not on our way. The brew pub is decorated in warm, brick reds and gold tones, with posters depicting limited-edition beers and a large bar. On a Wednesday at lunch time, the place was jamming - a good sign.
The Reuben egg rolls had much more riotous flavor. A super-crunchy egg roll wrapper encased salty, tender corned beef, sharp sauerkraut, and tangy Swiss. They were absolutely delicious. No hint was out of balance: the meat was sweet and salty with not a hint of the toughness you often get with the corned beef; the cheese wasn't too bossy, but provided a bit of goo and creaminess; the clean punch of the sauerkraut stood up to the richness of the meat.
My colleague J's wild boar chili looked and smelled fantastic:
But I had to go for the lamb burger, because tzatziki! Ok, you all know I love tzatziki, the Greek cream sauce flavored with garlic, dill and cucumber. And this thing was good, you guys. Not just good, but goooooood. The lamb patty had incredible flavor and was topped with enough feta cheese to season the whole sandwich but not so much that it overpowered everything else. Crunchy iceberg, juicy tomato, and sharp red onion all complimented the rich lamb perfectly, as did the creamy, dreamy tzatziki, which rendered this dish perfect. Hand-cut fries didn't hurt in my evaluation of the plate.
The very next night, we were headed back from Annapolis, and whadaya know, Harrisburg was on the way again. It just seemed like a good idea to hit up Lancaster again for dinner. You know what, it was a good idea, because dinner was banging. I mean it, it was a weeknight and again, the place was packed. At the behest of our friendly and fun server, we ordered the fried cheese curds to start.
They were delicately breaded and completely addictive (and yes, squeaky). They were served with a little cup of marinara, but I actually preferred these babies plain. They were delectable and a great start to our meal.
I couldn't resist the crab and tomato bisque, and I'm glad I didn't really try all that hard to do so. I am always impressed when tomato soup is really full-flavored and deep, which this was. The crab was impeccably fresh and sweet, and hard pretzel crumbles on top added texture to this satisfying cup of steaming goodness.
The words milk stout gravy are apparently trigger words for me. That's ok, because the meatloaf this gravy accompanied was terrific, like all of our food at Lancaster Brewing Company. The meatloaf was tender, juicy, beefy and robust, while the gravy had the slightly sour hint of beer to balance all the umami richness. Even the mashed potatoes hiding underneath the two huge planks of loaf were something special. At many eateries, these would be an afterthought or merely a bare-bones gravy vehicle, but instead they were buttery, whipped into an airy, light, delightful side.
The only slight downfall was the roasted carrots, which I ordinarily love. These were undercooked and really tough. The flavor was good, but the technique was lacking.
Carrots notwithstanding, everything we ate at Lancaster Brewing Company was of such high quality paired with creativity, we were all still talking about it in the office this week. I didn't snag a bite of T's chicken salad sandwich, but it looked really delicious, and she raved about it. I DID munch a couple of her chips, and they were bomb - well seasoned without being too salty, and super crunchy.
I love all the Amish smorgasbords in Lancaster, but I may actually prefer the new American cuisine Lancaster Brewing Company is cooking up. I give this road trip gem a nine on the BHS scale. I want everyone to know that if you're driving through Harrisburg, you should try to hit it at a mealtime, because this place rocks. When you make your way there, let me know how you like it! Oh, and PS: I picked Shawn up some of LBC's Boss Hog IPA, and he's a fan! My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!