The Official Pocono Mountains Restaurant Week 2014 was a hit! This week of enthusiasm for local eateries was held April 24th- 30th in the Pocono Mountains. I loved every day of the event, even if my wallet and waistline were less than thrilled. An important consideration: I don’t eat out on a regular basis. I’m someone who calculates what I’ve spent on a restaurant meal and immediately knows what I could have procured in the grocery store. I love to cook! I love to put on music, pour some wine, and figure out the best end result for the ingredients before me. The flip side is that I adore socializing. Having an excuse to hit 16 restaurants in 7 days was this social butterfly’s dream come true. Logistically, only 12 establishments could enjoy my fabulousness.
Stop one, first thing on Thursday, April 24th on my way to work: VanGilder’s Jubilee Restaurant in Pocono Pines, PA. I invited the Cute Boy to join me for breakfast, knowing that he would not be partaking in the RW prix fixe menu. He orders the same thing every time we have breakfast at the Jub (which I generally spell JUBE), “The Favorite.” I, however, had my eye on the specials. Stop four during RW was also the Jubilee, since I was CRAVING one particular prix fixe menu choice on a Saturday. I dined solo for breakfast (and have no regrets). My third visit to VanGilder’s during RW was Sunday for take-out. I was too tired to cook, slightly hung-over, and my fridge had no real food, just boxes of left-overs. I sat at the bar and ordered from the Restaurant Week special menu, enjoying a glass of wine while everything was prepared.
No matter when you go to the Jub(e), you’re going to have great food. The atmosphere is perfect, no matter who is in your group. You can dine alone without judgment or anxiety. You can be on a date. You can drag your kids and their friends and not fear scorn from other diners. The food is consistently delicious, the staff ‘normal,’ and prices fair.
“What is ‘normal?'” you ask? Normal for me, in the greater Pocono area, is not terribly difficult to achieve but not implemented in the majority. ‘Normal’ restaurant staffs do the following things:
*Greet you when you arrive
*Treat you nicely, but are not falsely intimate. There’s no ‘doll,’ ‘darlin’,’ ‘honey,’ or ‘sugar’ needed in the mountains. Additionally, strangers and regulars are treated equally. You won’t feel like an outsider on your first visit, even if the “Norm” walks into this “Cheers.”
*Know their job and don’t tell you how flustered they are to have four top.
*Know the establishment: Don’t tell me what pinot grigio will pair nicely with my grilled ham and cheese at noon on Monday.
*Are honest. If you won’t remember my order, it’s okay to write it down!
*Get their job done. I like clean silverware, cold water, hot coffee, and the food that I ordered.
That being said…..menu selections were the paramount consideration for Restaurant Week. Had I been blogging in real-time, I would include the full prix fixe menus and then my selections. Why rub it in? If you missed RW2014, you need only know how fantastic everything was. If you’re able to join me next year, you’ll have completely different options to view in 2015.
Here’s what I ate:
Stop 1: Breakfast Tostadas
I really wanted the Surf and Turf Benedict Sampler, but there’s no way I would be work- ready after such a decadent “vacation” meal. The tostadas entree was wonderful. HUGE portion, pork was tender and perfect, and accompaniments delightful. I hoped Joe would have the Keilbasa Scrambler, but he can’t eat onions! Ack!
Stop 4: Jelly Doughnut French Toast
I dreamed about this meal and had to stop on my way to run errands on Saturday morning. The battered Challah bread was transformed into sandwiches featuring a perfect sweet/sour combo fruit jam. The strawberry filling and dusting of confectioner’s sugar made for a very sweet breakfast treat. More sugar you say? Yes please (next time)! Here’s where the rebel in me comes out: I ordered bacon. You read me. BACON. I never order bacon “out” anymore because I hate rubbery bacon, loathe greasy bacon, and adore my sliced cured pig product so crispy you almost burn it. How on earth did the Jub(e) read my mind and desires????? Perfect.
Stop 8: Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Flatbread Pizza, Napa Valley Salad, Meatloaf Wellington, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Chocolate Caramel Turtle Pie, Glazed Vanilla Cherry Bundt Cake
This is where the Jubilee is miles above other casual eateries in the Poconos. They (a wonderful family I’m honored to know) provide classics, comfort classics, and pub fare standards, but always keep up on trends.
The Flatbread: perfect size to share. BBQ sauce was mild, not too spicy. Fair amount of chicken. Good value.
Salad: All mine. I will never know if it could have been shared. Delicious, fresh, crip. Dressing on the side without request.
Mac & Cheese: An abundance of lobster! Huge portion! I literally served three portions out of it and it re-heated well.
Meatloaf Wellington: Please, please, please put this on the menu. Billy? Vicki? Who do I need to beg? The Jub(e) has always had a lovely meatloaf entree; they upped the proverbial ante by wrapping it in a flaky pastry.
Turtle Pie: Shortbread crust was a nice balance- walnuts and caramel between crust and filling was a nice surprise.
Bundt Cake: More topping for me, please! Alas, it was baked it. Neat dessert- would totally order it again.
Go here. Order specials. Enjoy it all. The folks running this restaurant go to trade shows, attend food expos, experiment with flavors and ingredients, and never rest on their laurels. When the VanGilders travel and find something they love, they bring it home. They share their knowledge and passion for food with everyone they host in their family business. Don’t mistake the Jub(e) as breakfast and wings only…geography may be my excuse for excessive visits, but I’d frequent VanGilder’s Jubilee no matter their zip code.
And so……there are nine more RW reports with which to regale you!