After a long time of thinking about it, today we made it out from Philly to the Restaurant at Doneckers in Ephrata, Lancaster County. Barb from Ephrata a fellow AOL Travel Board Regular - who lives only a few blocks from the restaurant, joined us for lunch.
Well it was great!
The Chef at Doneckers is Greg Gable, who spent 14 years as Chef De Cuisine at Le Bec Fin, appears to be having fun with the menu. You can get Chicken Cheese Steak ($8.95 including french fries) or A Grilled Salmon Burgeer ($7.95).
But you can also get Entrees at lunch at prices greatly reduced from Dinner.
So the three of us opted for those. All entrees come with a substantial green salad with a superb Caesar salad dressing (I tried to get Gregs recipe but no luck.). Our entress included Sautéed Medallion of Salmon ($12.50) with a Red Pepper Beurre Blanc sauce and Basmati Rice. (excellent though the least special dish). I had the Weiner Schnitzel ($14.50)(substantial and very thin breaded veal cutlets with a veal reduction sauce and Creamy Citrus Orzo (a real winner that orzo). Barb had the real standout and my entrée the next time I go The Crab Galette which was a HUGE (at least the size of a can of tuna) crab cake made of large lump crab and little shrimp mousse with a tempura of string beans. At $12.95 this was a bargain! (At dinner this same dish is $25.50!). The french bread and mini corn muffins were served with three different flavored butters.
We felt we had to at least try dessert so we ordered the dessert sampler ($8.00) which included a small ramekin of crème brulee, a small napoleon and an interesting chocolate/ orange mousse cake. This was the only time the portions looked small but they were delicious. I wasnt in mood to drink but noted that a draft glass of Yuengling beer was only $2.50 and wines by glass were under $6.00. (Gables wife, Heidi, is the sommelier).
The service was adequate but not the most professional. We were never assigned a specific waitperson and different ones brought each course (and I had to look for still another person for the check.). We werent rushed at all. Our guess was that they use lunch to train the staff. The room is unchanged from the earlier days before Chef Gable arrived and his talents are in creating beautifully plated food, not on room decorations. Its understated country or early American décor.
Because Gable works the kitchen lunch and dinner, the Restaurant is closed Wednesday and Sunday. Barb explained that since the opening of Doneckers complex of stores and restaurant Wednesday everything is closed.
For those that dont know, Doneckers started as a clothing store and grew. It is a very upscale Clothing store for men and women as well as large gift show and a HUGE gallery of Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments. Add to that the restaurant, the Artworks craft gallery and 4 Bed & Breakfasts and it may be one of the largest employers in Ephrata.
The dinner menu is, of course pricier than lunch. Entrees are $23.50 to $30.95 for the Veal Chop with wild mushrooms) All come with house salad. Appetizers such as Fricassee of Duck with Gnocci (with wild mushrooms and Proscuitto are in the $6.95 to $7.95 range). Im very temped to go back for dinner!
If you go for lunch, make reservations. Hit some of the local antique places or poke in the Artworks and check out the designer clothes in the clothing store.
Ill certainly head back. From Center City Philly the drive is about 80 minutes out the PA Tpke to Exit 21 and then south.
Im glad I could share this review which a few people said they were anxious to hear.