I don’t usually visit a town cold, without having at least perused the web for some ideas on where to go and where to eat. But time ran away from me and, frankly, how exciting could research about Allentown, PA, really be?
I was determined, as always, not to eat at a chain restaurant, so I pulled off US 22 and followed signs on Seventh Street for the “City Center.” I eventually got to what looked like a “center” and started prowling for places to eat dinner.
I passed on a restaurant with a sign that had an image of food because I couldn’t exactly make out what kind of food it was portraying. I passed a Japanese restaurant, which I passed on, and then I passed a plethora of clothing shops and also the beautiful Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument.
Now, there probably are interesting places to eat downtown, but because I was flying solo and couldn’t Google and steer at the same time, I’m sure I just missed them (????). I eventually drove to my hotel near the airport, checked in, and then ventured out to the neighboring city of Bethlehem.
I went that way because I wanted to see Lehigh University, or at least find out where it was. It was dark as I passed the sprawling campus on the city’s south side, though I did appreciate the huge illuminated Fritch air conditioning/heating sign that served as a retro landmark for me, better than the university chapel.
I went to a place called the Copperhead Grille. I found out the restaurant has a sister location near the airport, about five minutes from my hotel. Figures. I don’t think that qualifies it as a “chain,” but at that point in the evening I was going to eat no matter what.
I had a New York strip steak, sweet potatoes topped with cinnamon sugar, and broccoli. Is it because the word “sweet” prefaces this fine vegetable that we deem it OK to add even more sweetness with brown sugar or, apparently, cinnamon sugar? If so, I’m on board with it. It was delicious.
The strip steak reminded me a little of the steaks my family used to get as a big treat Friday nights, except during Lent, at the Ponderosa restaurant in New Hyde Park on Long Island.
To be fair, my steak at the Copperhead was certainly a cut above those beefy rectangles that I sawed through as a kid, but there was nothing dynamic about the presentation. It did have good flavor and was cooked as requested. Two-dollar pints were a nice accompaniment, and the bar area was hopping, as was the long dining area.
It’s kind of sad to see how smartphones have joined TVs in eating away at conversation at today’s bars and restaurants. Guys and gals texting away instead of turning to the person sitting a stool away. The 3.7 inch phone screens even were getting more attention then the 37 inch TV screens planted every four feet throughout the restaurant.
No TVs in this establishment, in fact the waitresses were greeting customers as if they were long-lost cousins, talking holiday talk and issuing grave warnings about the icy roads.
Even with the time for chatter, this place was as an efficient operation as they come. If we still made things in America, this diner would serve as a good example of fine-tuned production. My smiling waitress presented me with my tea, my eggs, sausage, and home fries, a couple of refills, and a warm smile as I left.