Bake oven….where to start with Bake oven…? This is one of our favorite spots in the Valley, hands-down. It took me a while to finally write up this review because we have just had so many great and tasty experiences, I wasn’t sure what to focus on. So I’ve decided to toss some delicious pictures at the bottom of this post, and then to basically speak about the restaurant itself in generalities. First, the locale- this is an old farmhouse, built in 1895. The main floor holds several tables and a bar area- you never feel cramped, but it is cozy and homey. It is a hidden gem in the middle of the country, and once you’ve gone there, you will most certainly want to go back.
The food: We love the food here, but are especially huge fans of the Bake Oven brunch. They have some solid standards, but do not attempt to make any decisions until you hear the specials (this goes for dinner as well). There is usually some in-season ingredient with which the chef has created some delicious concoction- soft shell crabs, wild mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, fresh local apples, you name it. Or perhaps one of the many local purveyors has brought them something special, like a nice brisket or some beautiful short ribs. I have yet to have a breakfast that I did not hands-down love. However, I would be amiss if I did not steer you towards what may seem like a standard item, but is, in fact, a hidden gem.
The french fries.
Let me tell you how to order them: you want the truffle parm fries, with the hot bacon dressing on the side. The big bowl you see in the gallery below costs $5. Five. Dollars. Regardless of what time of day we go there, we always start with the fries. Always. We have dubbed these fries The Best French Fries in the Lehigh Valley, Perhaps in All the Land. I don’t usually like thinner fries, but these are delicious. Crispy, well-cooked, truffled but not overly so, with shavings of fresh parm. The bacon dressing is warm, rich, and just a little sweet, with giant chunks of bacon within. You work your way towards the bottom and get sad as you reach the bottom. But don’t. Because when you reach the bottom, that’s where all of the super duper crispy bits are.
Ok, what else is there? Well, the brunch and bar menus have what The Lehigh Valley Burger Blog has dubbed “The #2 burger in the Lehigh Valley” (It appears #1 goes to Bolete.) It’s perfectly cooked, and always has super fresh ingredients, all on a perfectly toasted brioche bun. Their morning scrambles also boast fresh local ingredients, with hearty portions and some of the best seasoned potatoes you’ll find (see pics below for some faves). Benedicts = always awesome. I’ve had their benedicts with salmon, short ribs, crab cakes- all delicious. I am not a huge hollandaise fan (usually too thick and lacking in flavor), but theirs is bright, lemony, light, and creamy. The house-made whipped butters they serve with their bread are also amazing- I always give a little hand clap when they come out. For butter.
Their dinner entrees are also delicious- although I will admit, we are usually too interested in their smaller plates and apps that we generally make meals of those. Their desserts are decadent, creative, and super satisfying (see waffle smothered in ice cream below).
What about the drinks? Well, they generally have a small selection of draft beers, including seasonal options, and a fair number of bottled beers. They make some really delicious and interesting cocktails- again, always featuring something seasonal. They always have blood marys and mimosas at the ready at brunch time, and often featured cocktails for dinner.
Service: The place is run by Chef Mark Muszynski and his wife Catherine, and you are often greeted by Catherine when you come by. If you go more than once, they will often recognize you and greet you as an old friend. The first time I visited the Bake Oven Inn, I met Louie- the delightful character that typically keeps bar. Louie’s reciting of the specials makes you feel like you’re on a game show and someone is telling you what you’ve won. His service is polite and efficient, with a little bit of sass thrown in for fun.
One thing I will note- this is not always going to be a fast in and out experience. First, Bake Oven makes pretty much everything in-house, so the food itself takes some time. Second, it’s a small family-style crew, and sometimes they get a bit swamped. So, go in anticipating that, depending on the circumstances, it may take some time to get all of your food. But know that, once you have it, it will totally have been worth the wait.
I will also say: I mentioned this is a hidden gem. I want people to know about it, and know how delicious the food is and how delightful the company can be. But I need to make sure that I can still get in when I need to. So if you could just go there in a peaceful, orderly fashion, (and save me a seat for brunch) that would be cool.
Gallery (click for full size):