OK, this place is a tad out of the way and not all that easy to find but, trust me, if you ever have reason to be in Hanover — aka the land of shoes and potato chips — do not pass up a chance to dine at the Warehouse. Also, if you’re into really good handmade food, local fresh wines and homebrewed craft beers, then find a reason to be in Hanover.
The Warehouse, which actually was a warehouse after it was a furniture factory, a ribbon factory and a cigar factory (more than a century ago), looks the part from the outside but is surprisingly small and cozy inside.
It’s located on a side street by railroad tracks not far from the town square. The first-floor bistro has painted walls and exposed brick with nice art work, an industrial image and — I can’t believe I’m saying this about a place in Central PA — a sort of East Village feel.
It gets crowded and it can get noisy. Owners don’t take reservations. But the small upstairs pub can serve you a draft or two while you wait.
On my visit, folks were lined up on the wooden steps outside because both the bistro and the pub were packed.
In short order, though, I lucked out and drew “the nook” (because I was only a party of two), which I assume was once a closet but is now a tiny alcove area in the back of the bistro.
It has a window seat, one chair and a small table. But it has art work, coat hooks and privacy; it gets you away from the din and is really the best seat in the house.
Regardless of where you sit, do yourself a favor and start off with a house sampler, just $5 for five craft beers each served in a miniature beer glass, not a shot-glass. When combined, they equal a pint.
This will help you decide which of the many beers to order or just get you in a good mood. I especially enjoyed the “leggy blonde,” described as a full-bodied ale that will “show you a good time — without stealing your wallet,” and something called “ctrl alt del” (control, alt, delete) which makes you want to reboot and have another.
There also was porter, pale ale, a hoppie IPA and a chocolate oatmeal stout.
As to the food, the menu is really two menus. There’s a pub version with soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches and “all-day entrées” and there’s also an after-4 p.m. bistro menu with a half-dozen entrées. Bistro diners can order from either menu.
Let’s look first at the pub or “all day” menu. Salads include a Caesar served as is or with chicken, shrimp or portabello mushroom; there’s goat cheese, apple and pecan salad; roasted corn, artichoke and green bean salad; and tuna salad with artichoke and cilantro.
Salad prices range from $6 to $9.50. All dressings are homemade and all salads are served with wonderful homemade bread and different and delicious house-made cayenne butter.
All-day entrées include “gourmet” meatloaf with herbed mashed potatoes ($10); back-fin crab cake with garlic mashed potatoes ($15); and curry coconut chicken with jasmine rice ($11.50).
There are wraps (chicken salad or tuna salad or hummus with feta cheese and peppers, for example) priced around $5. And there are lots of sandwiches, some sides and soups.
But let me tell you about the after-4 p.m. entrées. None is more than $20 and the quality I tasted makes the prices bargains
My dining partner had stuffed shrimp with crab imperial served with mashed potatoes and a caper tartar sauce for $19.50. The dish drew high praise, especially the crabmeat.
I ordered roasted duck breast which was served with a delightful caramelized onion risotto with snow peas and red onion jam for $20. The duck was perfectly prepared, tender and tasty; and while the dish, when served with risotto, can tend to be rich, this entrée was flat-out wonderful and satisfying without being too filling. I highly recommend it.
Service, despite the crowd, was terrific. There are tempting homemade desserts, including vanilla bean cheesecake and chocolate chip espresso brownies. And there’s fresh, robust French press coffee at two cups per order for $4.
The Warehouse has been in the food business since 2005 as a catering and take-out service. The downstairs bistro has been open since 2010 (which makes me sorry I didn’t find it sooner). The upstairs pub opened in late 2012.
The rotating fresh beers and local wines alone are worth a visit. I had a glass of “red reserve” from Allegro Winery in Brogue. For $8, this blend of three reds — merlot, cabernet franc and syrah — paired well with duck and, honestly, would have paired well with peanuts. It’s heavenly.
There are happy hour specials with reduced prices on beer and wine as well as daily specials and additions to the menus. The Warehouse is still in the catering business and, believe me, if you visit the bistro you’ll feel catered to, too.
WAREHOUSE GOURMET BISTRO & PUB 7 Pennsylvania Ave., Hanover; 717.451.9898; www.warehousegourmet.net
Hours: Downstairs bistro: 10:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; Upstairs pub: 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Saturday; lot and street parking.
The Phantom Diner has been a longtime restaurant reviewer for Central PA Magazine.