“Dear table number two, we are having a great time over here at table number one. Are you jealous? Circle yes or no. P.S. We think you are cute. From, Table number one.”
Table #1 consisted of a brewer, his girlfriend, a food photographer, a long-bearded beer writer and his uncle, the wife of Iron Hill’s General Manager and her friends. Then there was WCOJ’s JT Morgan and me.
Table #2 consisted mostly of hospitality professionals and restaurateurs.
The dueling dark-wood tables were set in the back area of Iron Hill with seasonal candle-lit centerpieces and classically folded white cloth napkins. The tables were set as part of Iron Hill’s newest dining experience: Chef’s Table with Executive Chef Dan Bethard.
This seasonal feast highlights the culinary talents of Chef Bethard, who has been with the restaurant for 11 years. This four-course prix fixe menu, available every other Wednesday at 7 pm, includes wine or beer (in my case both) pairing at a communal table. The idea is to have groups of friends, singles and families come together to share a common table and eat and discuss food. Basically, it’s a night that can lead to anything… in our case, passing love notes and discussing eating chicken necks.
This particular evening’s menu started with savory roasted red beet salad with smoked whitefish which was beautifully presented, beet-atically well-balanced and delightful. The second course (my favorite) was an exotic mushroom and pumpkin gratin. It was so rich with bacon, imported cheeses and onion that I preferred to spread it on whole grain bread to balance it out.
The main course was an herb roasted pork loin with cabbage and potato croquettes, which a fellow diner declared as “magical pork” and also stated, after a few glasses of beer, that she just can’t “get enough pork in her life.”
The final course was a parsnip cake with walnuts and cream cheese icing that was so tasty I took leftover icing from the food photographer’s plate before the waitress claimed it for the kitchen.
Overall, it was a unique experience during which I indulged a bit too much in the bottomless wine and beer pairings. The drink suggestions were plentiful and the beer offerings highlighted the depth of Iron Hill’s brewing portfolio (like the Russian Imperial Stout, which could have been a dessert in itself). The wine pairings were equally tasteful and I’m sure were to blame for the note passing and shameless discussion in which I participated.
At the conclusion of the meal Chef Dan made an appearance. This was the time to ask why he chose certain ingredients and randomly chit chat about or, if you choose, to be a food snob and dive into heavy “food talk.” When asked about the menu, Chef Dan says, “My menus are inspired by Pennsylvania’s local foods, but also by what I like to eat. This is the kind of dinner I cook for my friends. It gives me a chance to experiment with ingredients I don’t use every day.”
If You Go
If you are looking for a unqiue, behind-the-food approach to dining in West Chester, you cannot miss out on the Chef’s Table at Iron Hill. Here’s the dish for more info.
Wednesdays, 7 pm
$40 Per Person, excluding gratuity
The Final Dish: Hey, Chef Dan…are you single? Circle yes or no.