Indulge In Unhurried Dining
Bolete Bethlehem ranks HIGH on my list of all-time favorite restaurants.
In the kitchen of a former stagecoach inn, Chef Lee Chizmar gets down to business preparing stocks, pasta, and sauces and planning his daily menu. The chef and his team prepare everything on-site and that personal touch is reflected in every morsel that appears on your plate.
View the menu here.
If you live in the Lehigh Valley region, you’re close enough to Bethlehem to plan an impromptu dinner date at Bolete [bo-leet], 1740 Seidersville Road but don’t let an hour or two drive stop you from experiencing one of the best meals you’ll have. When your travels lead you to the Lehigh Valley, add Bolete Bethlehem to your itinerary. My meal was superb.
My evening with the staff at Bolete evolved while I was a guest at The Sayre Mansion. I arrived in Bethlehem in the early afternoon and immediately, dinner was on my mind. My thoughts turned to a relaxing meal after settling in at the mansion. You might have experienced the confusion that comes with narrowing your dining options in a city with so many options. I’ve literally spent hours sifting through online menus. Who wants to do that, particularly when your day is jam-packed with sightseeing or business meetings? Bolete Bethlehem came highly recommended.
Fortunately, the management at The Sayer Mansion recommends Bolete and I made my reservation for 7 p.m. so the remainder of my day I could set up my tripod and camera gear, interview staff, or walk around town.
Prepare to be dazzled
Allow me to paint a picture of what you can expect to find at Bolete. Imagine a cozy family-owned restaurant housed in a former stagecoach inn on the outskirts of town. An accomplished chef and his wife own and manage this intimate fine-dining eatery who spent their life dreaming of opening a restaurant. A solid plan and diligence helped the couple build a business that caught the attention of the culinary world and landed them a spot in the running for one of the top awards. Chef Lee Chizmar and his wife, Erin Chizmar, were selected as semifinalists in the James Beard Foundation, “Outstanding Restaurant” category.
Chef Lee commented,
“It was remarkable for our whole team to hear of the nomination. They each work tirelessly to make each guest’s experience great. And it was such an honor to be considered among those other industry titans.”
Paying HOMAGE to the Mushroom
Bolete, or mushrooms, is one of the key ingredients Chef Lee adds to many dishes. If you’re not a fungi fan, you can request your meal without them.
Why mushrooms? Aside from the fact that Pennsylvania is the “Mushroom Capital of the World,” and an abundance of varieties make them a convenient choice, Chef Lee and mushrooms have had a long and interesting career.
“Mushrooms have been an integral part of each restaurant I’ve worked at in my career, so when we moved to PA (Pennsylvania) to open Bolete, it was a natural fit,” Chef Lee said.
If you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what I ordered, I began my dining with a first course: The menu description reads, “Liberty Gardens Mixed Greens (Salad) WITH 12 pickled local mushrooms, parmesan, sunflower seeds, cipollini, garlic sourdough crouton, mushroom “Caesar” vinaigrette” but I asked my server to hold the croutons because I limit my gluten intake. I didn’t leave so much as a sunflower seed on my plate and the subtle mushroom taste combined with the shaved parmesan is the perfect prelude to all of the second-course options. I decided on the Cast Iron Seared Day Boat Sea Scallops, hand-rolled gnocchi, local mushrooms, bacon, swiss chard, Burgundian snails, parsley, and porcini puree.
The Decor: A Meeting of Rustic and Romantic
The former Stagecoach Inn sits at the crossroads of a busy intersection so, after sunset, passers-by can catch a glimpse of the soft glow of romantic lighting coming from the windows. My first reaction, as I found my parking spot in the on-site lot, was “Oh, this is perfect.”
You, on the other hand, might wonder why you’ve never dined at Bolete. Once you’re inside, the history and the unpretentious antiquity speak to you. Anyone with an affinity for history will appreciate Chef Lee and Erin’s choice of casual seating in the bar area or the dining room and their collection of carved wooden mushrooms in each of the windowsills. Softly candle-lit dining areas and a memorable meal await you at Bolete.
Make your reservation online.
My meal was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experience.
If you’re in the Harrisburg, PA area, learn more about Bricco here.