1774 Grille & Tap–which is located in the former Tavern House–has been open little more than a week, but owner Kim Culver says the upscale eatery and bar is already earning a following, with new customers traveling from as far as New Jersey to try its inventive menu filled with dishes that incorporate local ingredients.
The newest addition to Hellertown’s emerging Main Street restaurant district downtown, 1774 Grille & Tap is markedly different both in terms of cuisine and atmosphere from the Mexican restaurant that operated within its walls for decades.
Ricardo’s closed in December, which was when Culver and her husband purchased the landmark Colonial era stone building and began major renovations, which have resulted in lighter and brighter bar and dining areas.
Culver said Monday that since a soft opening Friday, Feb. 24, “we’ve gotten rave reviews on everything.”
Among the entrees on the menu, Lamb Osso Buco with herb roasted potatoes, mire poix and lamb jus ($28) has been a particular favorite so far, and a Caesar salad with kale ($9) is also popular.
Culver also highlighted the dessert menu, which is crafted by an in-house pastry chef, Michael Corcoran, who she said is “rocking it.”
The dessert menu includes an Irish Car Bomb Sundae featuring Guinness extra stout ice cream, Jameson’s whisky caramel, Bailey’s whipped cream and chocolatte-covered sourdough pretzel pieces ($8.50), and a Maple Pecan Tart featuring buttermilk ice cream, breakfast fruit “gazpacho” and bacon brittle ($8.50).
1774 Grille & Tap also serves soups, sandwiches and small plates, and the main menu will change seasonally.
The current menu is a Winter menu and first courses such as Pork Butt Chili ($8) and Butternut Squash Gnocchi ($10); a Braised Short Rib ($13), Sauteed Shrimp ($12) or Grilled Chicken Grilled Flatbread ($12); salads such as Spinach Cobb ($8) and Gold & Red Beet ($8); and main courses including Pan-Seared Salmon with toasted grain & root veg hash and grilled balsamic asparagus ($23) and Seared Scallops with brown butter parsnips, baby spinach and fig coulis ($27).
Barside there is an extensive drink menu featuring craft lagers, ciders and ales as well as “old standbys” such as Coors Light and Heineken in the beer department; a full wine list, with select vintages available by the glass; and both classic and seasonal cocktails.
An example of a seasonal winter cocktail is the Candy Ballerina ($9), made with gin, falernum, plum syrup, lemon juice, chartreuse rinse and cinnamon. An example of a classic cocktail is the The Last Word ($11), which is made with gin, chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, lime and cherry.
Culver said the restaurant is fully-staffed and already gearing up for a busy St. Patrick’s Day, when they will serve corned beef & cabbage, house-baked Irish soda bread and Guinness and Jameson specials.
“We have an amazing staff. They really are wonderful,” she said, adding that she wanted to recognize head chef Steven Brett and pastry chef Corcoran in particular.
Looking ahead to April, Culver said 1774 Grille & Tap will host Sunday “jazz brunches” that will be served from 10-4, both inside and on the restaurant’s side veranda, which is currently being built and will soon allow for al fresco dining.
The philosophy that underpins the restaurant is to promote “all local, fresh ingredients” as much as possible, Culver stressed, and they are accomplishing this by serving locally-baked breads from The Wayfare Baker of Bethlehem Township, locally-roasted coffee from Monocacy Coffee Co. of Bethlehem and Pennsylvania prime grass-fed beef.”
According to the website for the restaurant, “by sourcing from the best organic farmers in the area, our crisp produce and fresh meats provide a flavor and quality like no other.”
The valet parking arrangement Culver sought from the Borough of Hellertown is green-lit and just needs her signature, she said, and she will be contracting with Empire Valet to offer the service, which will cost $5 per vehicle.
Cars dropped off at 1774 Grille & Tap will be parked at the borough-owned parking lot across from the post office on Delaware Avenue two blocks away, according to the lease agreement, which Culver said is one year and will cost $2,500.
She said she expects valet parking to be available by the weekend of March 17-19, if not earlier.
1774 Grille & Tap is located at 605 Main St., Hellertown, and is open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. Tuesdays the restaurant is closed.