Boasting about Bolete: Bethlehem’s hidden restaurant treasure

Photo by Maria Otto ‘17

Housed in a 200-year old stagecoach stop from the 1790s, Bolete Restaurant and Inn is truly a rare delicatessen, even amongst the Lehigh Valley’s fine dining.

Bolete, meaning wild mushroom in Latin, is an exquisite little niche in the heart of Bethlehem whose interior is reminiscent of its rich history and whose menu is nothing less than five-star quality.

Having heard rave reviews from various friends, my parents and I decided to venture to the small stone house this past weekend for my early birthday celebration. What a celebration it was – one for even the most skeptical taste buds.

The restaurant’s menu changes on a daily basis, reflecting the season as well as the owners’ philosophy of fresh local ingredients. Each dish is created as a work of art by Executive Chef Chizmar. The restaurant does not believe in taking the easy way out, preparing everything, from the pasta, to the sauce in the small six-burner stove kitchen.

Bolete offers two courses, one a choice of appetizer ranging from Cauliflower Soup, Porcini Crusted Yellowfin Tuna, Chicken Fried Snails, to my very favorite and personal choice: House Made Hudson Valley Foie Gras Torchon. To say it was delicious would be an understatement. Served on toasted brioche bread and accompanied by pistachio brittle, crème fraiche, and lemon gastrique, the Foie Gras was superb and still churns feelings of nostalgia in my stomach.

The list of second course options prensented a more difficult choice! I went with Bolete’s Line Caught Wild Striped Bass, which proved to be an excellent choice, mouthwateringly soft with a crunchy coat. The fish arrived resting atop a bed of beets, turnips, clementines, candied bacon and various other bright colored veggies. My parents chose the House Smoked Roasted Boar Rack, which, while not being as succulent as the bass, had the exquisite fixing of red corn grits, winter peas, braised kale, and mustard greens that all coalesced to create the tastiest accompaniment.

Last came the dessert, a luscious line-up, of foods I would have been replaced any daily meal with. Here’s a few: Chamomile-Quince Sorbet, Chocolate-Lavender Crepe, and Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding. I chose the Pistachio Financier, which came with a fudge sauce, mandarin curd, and bittersweet chocolate mousse, freckled with pistachios. My dad went out on a limb with the Goat Cheese Cheesecake which, while not being a particular enthusiast of cheesecakes, I thought to be out of this world.

Yet this little restaurant was not quite finished with us! Along with the desserts came a special selections of teas. The tea was served in white kettles complementing the escort of tiny milk pitchers and sugar dishes. It was beautiful, the table adorned in the serveware from a classic American tea party.

An adventure that took me back to the late 1700s, a wild ride through an exquisite menu, and a marvelous memory of a warm little stone house that is Bolete. The memory of this dining experience will remain with me for a long time.

It is a must try, so next time your parents are coming for a visit, take them to the little stagecoach stop and fall into the rabbit hole of a charming world of exquisite food.

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