I found myself in Allentown on a rainy day, with a free afternoon and a hungry appetite. I met an old friend for lunch at a place called Grain located in the center of Allentown’s business district. The place came highly recommended from both word of mouth as well as Yelp and Trip Advisor – my go to food finding apps when travelling.
The space is a typical of old row homes of Allentown’s yesteryear. A narrow bar occupied the first floor with a few tables for dining, but most of the eating area is upstairs on the second floor. We settled into a table and began to look over the menu and two things immediately caught my eye.
First was the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. The presentation was everything. I was first presented with a bowl holding a small gathering of hearty ingredients- chopped apples, whipped goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, orange zest and diced butternut squash. My server then poured the creamy soup into the bowl over the apple mix.
I think this was one of the better soups I have ever had. Not only was it thick and hearty, it was perfectly spiced and rich.
I then chose the Charred Asparagus Over Arugula Salad- a decent sized portion of asparagus with spicy arugula, roasted onion, poached egg and pickled mustard seeds. The greens were tossed in a lemon vinaigrette, the entire salad was very light but filling. I particularly enjoyed the mustard seeds as they added an extra unexpected flavor to the salad. Either the salad or the butternut squash soup would make a satisfying meal on their own, but together they were perfect.
We were also invited to try some of the specialty cocktails that are unique to the Grain menu. The bartenders have experimented and created their own signature drinks. The first we tried was the Smoked Blueberry Margarita. The key was the house made smoked jalapeno blueberry syrup and while it was wonderful in the alcoholic beverage, it was very tasty when just mixed with club soda.
The Honey Nut Old Fashioned was interesting. Listen to these ingredients- peanut infused bourbon, macadamia nut liqueur, orange bitters and a peanut honey simple syrup. Garnished with peanuts, this drink is both unique and full of flavor.
The Grapefruit Thyme is a concoction of gin, Captain Morgan Grapefruit, fresh lime, tonic and grapefruit juice. Although tasty, it was the less interesting of the three. However, there are a lot of cocktails on the menu for every taste.
While I ate off the small plates menu, there is also a selection of larger meals such as Seared Duck Breast, Chicken and Waffles, and Cobia fish. Grain is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week and while reservations are not required, they are highly recommended. Five out of five sprouts.