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State College restaurants


Lori in PA
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Chris- did you see today's paper? The owners of Zola bought the Gamble Mill late last year. I am anxious to see what they do with it. We haven't been to Alto yet, but I definitely want to go soon. This area needs more dining on that level.

I read about it back when it was first announced, but this article is quite interesting, in particular:

“We are not changing the Gamble Mill,” Kendeffy says. “We are keeping many of the signature dishes that people have come to love over the years, the seafood strudel, the clam chowder. Much of the staff is remaining the same, and we will be open longer hours,” he said. “We have great respect for what Courtney and Jeanne have created at the Mill, and we will not be making major changes. Their regular clientele will not be disappointed.”

I hope they make enough changes: I'm not particularly interested in a "new" Gamble Mill with different interior decor and everything else the same. I think Kendeffy and company have done a great job of elevating dining in this area and hope they continue to do so: I think there is still a long way to go.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I hope they make enough changes: I'm not particularly interested in a "new" Gamble Mill with different interior decor and everything else the same. I think Kendeffy and company have done a great job of elevating dining in this area and hope they continue to do so: I think there is still a long way to go.

I agree completely. I get tired of the chains and crappy dining places that only cater toward the inebriated college students. (Since I'm not one anymore, I can complain about them now. :cool: )

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And then get a sticky for dessert.

This seems to be a sort of obsession... I could FedEx you some... :biggrin: I'm not much of a sugar fiend, so they don't do anything for me.

I am selling State College a little short on the lunch side of things: Herwigs Austrian Bistro is pretty tasty. A little pricey for an everyday lunch, no atmosphere to speak of, no liquor license, no credit cards, and they are one of those places with "attitude" (think Soup Nazi from Seinfeld), but in the end it's worth it if you like Austrian food. Everything is made from scratch in house, and it's great.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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And then get a sticky for dessert.

This seems to be a sort of obsession... I could FedEx you some... :biggrin: I'm not much of a sugar fiend, so they don't do anything for me.

I am selling State College a little short on the lunch side of things: Herwigs Austrian Bistro is pretty tasty. A little pricey for an everyday lunch, no atmosphere to speak of, no liquor license, no credit cards, and they are one of those places with "attitude" (think Soup Nazi from Seinfeld), but in the end it's worth it if you like Austrian food. Everything is made from scratch in house, and it's great.

Actually, good Austrian food could make State College a dining destination all by its lonesome: Philadelphia's got none, and precious little German left.

And, given the usual booze markups, no license is usually a plus in my book.

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And then get a sticky for dessert.

This seems to be a sort of obsession... I could FedEx you some... :biggrin: I'm not much of a sugar fiend, so they don't do anything for me.

What can I say? We really enjoyed them. Part of it had to be the atmosphere. We didn't try anything else in the diner, though. Does the diner have real diner food?

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What can I say? We really enjoyed them.  Part of it had to be the atmosphere.  We didn't try anything else in the diner, though. Does the diner have real diner food?

Hmm, The Diner. I'm not sure I can say anything about the diner without dissolving into a fit of epithets. :hmmm: Suffice it to say, I do not like the Diner. I believe their service to be among the worst in State College, the food to be substandard even by greasy-spoon diner standards, and with the Corner Room just down the block to get your Stickies Fix I see no reason to ever darken their door again. I have only been there twice and this was my experience both times. Maybe I caught them on off days, as somebody must go there: they are still in business.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Sure they're still in business. That's where people send the tourists. We had fun when we were there - good time with our server. And there were other people eating. But, again, all we had were the stickies.

And, umm, aren't they the ones that make the stickies? :unsure:

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And, umm, aren't they the ones that make the stickies? :unsure:

Yeah, and just about everyone in town sells them. IMHO they ought to close the retail location (which is a primo location and could probably fetch the owner a pretty penny) and just make the Stickies. I would love to know the income breakdown between selling the stickies to everyone else in town and selling actual meals at their storefront. Another caveat is that I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so being the home of the stickies doesn't win them any points in my book :smile: .

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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  • 3 months later...

My wife and I ate at Facia Luna Pizzeria tonight: they probably have the best pizza in the State College area. It is cooked in a wood-fired oven, which generally bodes well. We started with the bruschetta, which was pretty good considering that tomatoes are still very out of season here: they did a nice job livening them up. The bread was a touch soft for my tastes, but not so much that I wouldn't order it again, and we ordered it with the fresh mozzarella option, which added a little body to the bread (it was a fairly firm mozzarella, considering that it was fresh). For our pizza we shared a medium Carciofo pizza (artichokes, tomatoes and basil). They went a bit heavy on the toppings, in my opinion: it is hard to make a good wood-fired pizza if you over-load the crust, which then doesn't cook appropriately. This pizza suffered from a mediocre crust to a certain extent, but it wasn't terrible. The toppings were tasty for the most part, though they used a combination of fresh and canned tomatoes, which was a mistake. I am all for canned tomatoes in stuff when tomatoes are out of season, but as a pizza topping? No way. Just make do with fewer tomatoes. All in all you could do far worse in State College, and this is clearly the best pizza in town (the claims of HiWay pizza notwithstanding).

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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During the course of my April 2008 Foodblog I ate at a number of area restaurants, mainly for lunch. I recommend all except The Diner wholeheartedly (avoid The Diner, IMO). Here is a brief index of the relevant places and links back to my comments (with photos, even!):

  • The Corner Room (Lunch, general American fare, State College landmark)
  • The Diner (Grilled Sticky, awful service, can get the Sticky elsewhere)
  • Golden Wok (Lunch, general Chinese-American, cheap and tasty)
  • Herwig's Austrian Bistro (Lunch, phenomenal family-owned house-made Austrian food)
  • Saint's Café (Coffee shop, nice local place)
  • Say Sushi (Lunch, Japanese/Korean/Chinese blend, sushi is OK and everything else is great)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Tonight we ate at The Gamble Mill, at 160 Dunlop St. in Bellefonte. This is another of the Fonash.Kendeffy Restaurant Group's places (Alto Italian and Zola New World Bistro being the others at the moment), and again, I am very glad to have Fonash and Kendeffy in the area. I started with a charcuterie platter, which is typically sort of so-so in these parts, and was pleasantly surprised to find quite good, classic French charcuterie, and if it wasn't homemade (I don't know), it was at least artisanally produced. Its only real flaw was that the last place I had a charcuterie plate was Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal, where it is truly exquisite, and The Gamble Mill's suffered in comparison. Still, if it's on the menu when you go there, order it. Next up was a spinach salad, sprinkled with a very nice bacon. The salad was well executed and tasty, if not the most exciting thing in the world. For my entrée I had a smoked pork chop with sauerkraut and grilled plum. The chop was a bit dry, but the sauce it was served in was quite tasty, and the sauerkraut very good (though perhaps not as good as Herwigs). I would order this again, but might try to request the pork cooked a bit less. We ended the meal with Hungarian Crepes, which were mediocre, and we didn't finish. The crepes were sort of cold and insipid, with a poor texture, and the filling just tasted like knock-off Nutella. Fortunately, the 17 year-old Bowmore Scotch I enjoyed with it made up for any deficiency and I left happy anyway :smile:. Overall, another good place by Dave Fonash and Paul Kendeffy. These guys are taking over the high-end scene in the area, and everyone is winning as a result.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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  • 3 weeks later...

After reading the food blog of Chris Hennes from earlier this Spring, I made a mental note to eat at Herwig's the next time I was in State College and I'm glad I did. We stopped in on Saturday and enjoyed both the food and the personality. I ordered one of the specials, which was an entire roasted pork hock, skin on, which was more than moist and tasted like pork ought to taste. The kraut that came with it was unlike anything I had before. It came in a rich brown stock and was laced with huge chunks of bacon. I'm no fan of sauerkraut but I had no problem putting this stuff away.

As for personality, the owner, who was stylishly dressed in black t-shirt, bermuda shorts, gray knee socks, black loafers and an apron, made three stops to the table to chat--mostly, I think, to give my wife good-natured grief about her decision to order a vegetarian dish. This was after he told me, upon walking up to the counter that I was too skinny(6' 1, 200 lbs.--skinny, I'm not). Another employee came to the table and said, first in German and then in Spanish, French, and Hungarian, "Slowly, the squirrel approaches." We gathered that the phrase was some sort of folk-saying which meant that we looked as if we were about to finish the meal.

Next time I'm up that way, I'm going back.

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Meanderer, glad you liked Herwigs. They crack me up!

While I'm thinking about it, I want to comment on another local restaurant I haven't yet mentioned: Green Bowl (website, map). This place is an "invent your own stir-fry" place, where you go up to what looks like a salad bar, fill up your bowl with stuff, scoop on one or more of their sauces (they have 15-20 on any given day, I would guess), and then hand over your bowl. They stir fry it for you (or they can make it into a soup or a wrap) and bring it to your table. It's pretty hard to fault them for any bad food you have there, since you made the combinations yourself, but they do have a (long) list of suggested sauce combinations on a board behind the counter. The most critical thing to remember when you are at the bar is that you are not making a salad, you are making a stir-fry. It's easy to slip into a salad bar mentality, but you have to remember that all that spinach you filled your bowl with is going to be cooked down to only a few strands! Remember this, and go easy on the sauces, and GB is a great place to enjoy lunch.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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  • 3 weeks later...

Chris, I wholeheartedly agree with your affirmation about Herwig's. Herwig's does seem to offer homestyle Austrian cooking that is just full of intense flavors, just as described.

However, I do want to advise the readers that The Green Bowl, while a great concept, is seriously lacking in its implementation. The sauces are canned and bland, IMHO. The visitor might try it for lunch, as an experiment, but I wouldn't make it a dinner destination without trying lunch first.

State College is by no means a hotbed of innovative international cuisine, but it does have one or two standouts locally. My current local favorite is Cozy Thai, a small Asian place on East College Ave. (beyond Garner Ave.). It ain't San Franciso or New York, but it compares favorably locally, and the price is right. It's BYO so you'll have to bring your own gewurztraminer or riesling.

In sum, approach The Green Bowl cautiously and consider Cozy Thai.

Dan

Meanderer, glad you liked Herwigs. They crack me up!

While I'm thinking about it, I want to comment on another local restaurant I haven't yet mentioned: Green Bowl (website, map). This place is an "invent your own stir-fry" place, where you go up to what looks like a salad bar, fill up your bowl with stuff, scoop on one or more of their sauces (they have 15-20 on any given day, I would guess), and then hand over your bowl. They stir fry it for you (or they can make it into a soup or a wrap) and bring it to your table. It's pretty hard to fault them for any bad food you have there, since you made the combinations yourself, but they do have a (long) list of suggested sauce combinations on a board behind the counter. The most critical thing to remember when you are at the bar is that you are not making a salad, you are making a stir-fry. It's easy to slip into a salad bar mentality, but you have to remember that all that spinach you filled your bowl with is going to be cooked down to only a few strands! Remember this, and go easy on the sauces, and GB is a great place to enjoy lunch.

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This Green Bowl place reminds me of a place that used to be here in Philly that was a "Mongolian Barbeque" place. I can't remember the name of it, but it was in that once cursed space across from the Ritz theaters that now houses Positano Coast.

I wish we still had a Mongolian Barbeque here. It was really good. :sad:

Katie M. Loeb
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  • 9 months later...

I just can't say enough good things about Herwig's. I'm back in State College for the week, so today at Herwig's recommendation I got the half chicken (he accused me of being too thin, of course, so I asked him to help correct that): it was an incredible amount of food, relatively inexpensive, and absolutely delicious. It has been said before, but I'll say it again: if you are in State College, eat at Herwig's. And remember to pick up a six-pack of beer on your way, it's BYOB.

ETA: Regarding Green Bowl: I agree that the individual sauces are nothing to write home about, but with judicious combination-forming (and keeping the sauce to a minimum) I have still had some very good meals there. Never tried them for dinner, however, so I can't comment on that. For me, most of my downtown State College dining has been for lunch (my office was under a block from Herwig's: dangerous!)

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I just got back from four days fishing State College's surrounding streams. I wanted to get to Herwig's, but was unable as they closed 8pm the days I was there, and that was just a bit too early for me. I heard great things form my wife and teenage son who had eaten there a few weeks ago. Did make it to the Diner on West College Ave. for a Penn Stater breakfast, which had an excellent mushroom, bacon and cheese omlette, grilled sticky and some not so great homefries. Coffee was surprisingly good. They clean their coffee making equipment, I guess :biggrin:

I just wanted to give a heads up about a nice dive bar, Zeno's. It is no secret, I know, but I found that it was a good place for some good food and beer in a very laid back setting. It is located below street level on the corner of Allen Street and West College Avenue, enter on Allen Street.

Very friendly service, and a very busy small bar.

They have a limited menu from the Allen Street Grill and ?The Corner Place? which are directly above. On three visits I had a couple of nice salads, one with grilled fillet tips, a decent bowl of NE Clam chowder and an excellent grilled turkey breast sandwich with apple smoked bacon and a basil mayo on ciabatta. These were all excellent and reasonable priced.

Food service stops at 9:30pm, however.

The beer selection was nice with three beer engines and some excellent locally brewed Elk Creek beers as well as Delerium Tremens and Dupont Saison, all on tap. Time to clean those beer lines, though.

WEDNESDAY nights they have two excellent, and I mean top notch, live bluegrass bands at 8 and 10pm with a $3 cover :cool: On that night there is FREE pulled pork barbeque, which I did not try, but it smelled and looked good.

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Add me to the fans of Herwig's.

This thread appeared in the nick of time for my first visit to State College. Just got back from a great lunch at Herwig's and am I ever stuffed.

Some highlights: the spaetzle with cheese (macaroni and cheese with an Austrian touch), salad with a dill dressing, the wurst (not sure what it was called but it had a very interesting, ground pork texture) and last, but not least, the sauerkraut (rinsed before being stewed for hours with bacon and other spices until it reached a creamy texture)

As if the food wasn't good enough, Herwig is a natural restaurateur, with an engaging personality and a staff that clearly enjoys working there. If you are ever in State College and don't go to Herwig's, you will have missed out on a unique dining experience.

Edited by BrentKulman (log)
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