Discerning Diner: For special night out, consider Tavern on the Hill

Discerning Diner: For special night out, consider Tavern on the Hill

EAST PENNSBORO TOWNSHIP — Venturing into the restaurant business isn’t for the faint of heart and often takes just the right formula to stand the test of time. East Pennsboro Township’s Tavern on the Hill seems to have perfected the formula and even bucks the trend.

Where other “old school, white tablecloth” restaurants, have gone out of business, the Tavern on the Hill has survived, changing little over the 23 years it’s been in operation.

A favorite of both politicians and locals alike, the restaurant has been considered “the place” to go for a fine dining experience.

Customers will find the area a gem atop a hill off Route 11/15 in East Pennsboro Township, with plenty of parking available in the ample lot located in front of the restaurant.

Upon arriving, guests are greeted by a host and escorted to their seats in one of several rooms available throughout the establishment. Those who visit during the warmer weather can opt for a seat on the outside patio.

After we took our seats near a large floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the parking lot, our waiter offered a greeting and presented us with a wine menu that has garnered acclaim over the years, winning awards from respected organizations like Wine Spectator. Favored by oenophiles, the Tavern’s wine list is among the top eight in the state of Pennsylvania and ranks 800 in the world.

The restaurant takes its wine seriously and up until a few years ago, employed a sommelier to stroll the room wearing his ever-present tastevin around his neck, to assist patrons with their wine selections.

We began our dinner with a familiar Merlot, before proceeding onto the blackened tenderloin appetizer with Thai red-pepper sauce. Done medium rare, the tenderloins were tender and flavorful and paired well with the mildly spicy, delicious sauce. It’s one appetizer you won’t want to miss.

Early in our visit, our waiter presented us with a basket of fresh bread served warm—yet another tradition, which also seems to be fading into the past.

After finishing the appetizers, the waiter arrived at our table, as if on cue, to present us with the traditional Greek salads we ordered as one of our side choices. The chilled salads contained iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, black olives, feta and pepperoncini and just the right amount of herby Greek salad dressing.

After the salads, the pace slowed down quite a bit and we waited about 25 minutes for our entrées. When they finally arrived, they didn’t disappoint.

Lamb chops listed on the menu as “prime Colorado lamb, double porterhouse cut, seasoned with Herbs de Provence” were done perfectly and served alongside tarragon potatoes and the Tavern’s popular Mediterranean style peas cooked in a tomato/dill sauce.

I ordered the shrimp scampi, which was served over linguini. The shrimp tasted fresh and for a dish that can sometimes be bland and oily, this one was both rich and garlicky. I can honestly say it’s one of the better shrimp scampi dishes I’ve had.

Chicken dishes like Marsala and parmesan appear on the menu, with a variety of steaks ranging from filet, to porterhouse and Delmonico. Lamb chops and a roasted rack of lamb done with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs are also featured, along with various veal dishes as well.

Seafood lovers can choose from a wide selection of entrees, including Boston scrod, yellow fin tuna steak, grilled king salmon and broiled crab cakes, which are a customer favorite.

Guests can choose from an array of daily specials as well. When we visited on Thursday, specials included swordfish, striped bass and red fish fillet, along with main lobster, prepared steamed or broiled with drawn butter.

Portions are more than ample, which explains why we didn’t order the desserts offered that particular evening. They included cheesecake, crème brulee, rice pudding, apple pie, pumpkin cheesecake and a chocolate layer cake.

The ambiance at tavern is quiet and romantic, making it a special date night destination, or a place to celebrate any special occasion. With the holidays on the horizon, the Tavern on the Hill is definitely a place worthy of consideration.

As far as prices go, appetizers range from $10.99 to $16.99; entrees range from $21.99 to $39.99; and desserts range from $5-$9.95.

Tavern on the Hill is located at 109 Howard St., Enola. For more information, call 717-732-2077 or visit www.tavernonthehill.com.

Next Up: A visit to “Crumbs,” in Mount Holly Springs, for lunch.

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