If you haven’t visited the relaunched flagship of the so-called “Restaurant Row” on Second Street in Harrisburg, now would be a good time to do so.
Stock’s on 2nd led the way toward revitalization of the capital’s downtown dining scene in 1998. Since then, the area has been through a lot of changes. And it’s showing the way again with its au courant approach to food and drink.
Owners Stephen and K.J. Weinstock now call their popular eatery a “farm-to-fork gastropub.” It specializes in fresh, local foods offered in various ways and portions.
Photo by Elizabeth Franz
In addition, Stock’s features a whiskey bar with flights of bourbon, flights of rye, craft cocktails, lots of beer on tap and a 40-bottle list of reasonably priced wines. And there’s wine by the glass.
The restaurant’s interior was stripped and redone during a three-day, around-the-clock makeover at the end of July. It now reflects its farm-to-table fare with Amish tabletops made of wood from a Pittsburgh barn and hanging lights from barn beams from a Carlisle barn.
There are high-top tables, a long bar (same size as the original), big decorative barrels and large artwork pieces on the walls that make you think of barns and farms.
The atmosphere is casual, almost rustic. The service is prompt and informed. And the choices are creative and wonderful. And I mean that in terms of what you eat, portion size and how much you want to spend.
The dinner menu, for example, sports a section titled “We Go Both Ways.” Any offering in that section can be ordered either as a small plate or as an entrée.
While the menu changes based on what’s locally available, during one of my visits the “both ways” choices included a “jumbo lump solo crab tower,” a lump crab cake with capers and mustard aioli and a hydroponics micro salad for $15 or $30.
There was also plum-glazed duck confit leg with roasted garlic; grilled portobello mushroom with goat cheese, olive oil, roasted pepper and basil; and (my choice) mesquite house-smoked pulled pork sliders made with Groff’s meat, two for $10.43; four for $20.86. (Odd pricing, I know, but this pork is absolutely wonderful no matter how it’s priced.)
A dining partner chose “The Only Burger You’ll Want” — 8 ounces of New York strip loin, ground beef and brisket on a country bun with caramelized onions ($13) — and claimed to have chosen wisely.
The other menu highlight for me was a section titled “Cheese and Charcuterie.” This, too, offers options. You can get two selections for $8, four for $15 or six for $22. I had sweet sopressata and housemade mozzarella from DiBruno Brothers of Philadelphia. Both were excellent: the cheese fresh, smooth and creamy, the sopressata like a taste of Italia. And the coupling was perfect with cocktails.
But there’s also something called “Pub Snacks.” These included house-smoked, whiskey- glazed beef jerky; confit duck fries; housemade pretzels; and (my favorite) shrimp tempora with hot peppers and smoked fruit salsa. The latter is around $9, enough for two to share and goes great with cocktails.
“Craft Cocktails” are around $10 and a tad smaller than cocktails you might be served in a regular restaurant. But then there’s nothing regular about the new Stock’s. The Old Fashioned is made with Collingswood Canadian, in-house maple-laced syrup, bitters and a Luxardo gourmet cherry. A Bourbon Bramble is Old Forester, Chambord, Cointreau, lemon, simple syrup, mint and blackberry garnish.
Oh, and there’s a mint julip, whiskey sour, a Tom Collins, a Pimm’s cup and hand-shaken Bacardi daiquiris — just in case you like the classics.
The bourbon and whiskey list is impressive. It includes Michters Small Batch, Blanton’s, Woodford Reserve, Templeton Rye and many more.
And for those who prefer a full entrée, there’s also plenty to choose from.
Some examples: Bell & Evans (Lebanon County) chicken filled with spinach and ricotta ($17), Warrington Farms (York County) grass-fed center-cut strip steak ($25), prosciutto- wrapped trout ($20) from Lime Stone Springs (Lebanon County) and Groff’s (Lancaster County) skinless sausage with orecchiette ($15).
I had the latter served in a skillet. It was excellent.
The menu also includes soups, salads, side dishes and desserts such as root beer floats, peanut butter pie, milk and cookies, and housechurned vanilla bean ice cream.
The key here is variety. It’s an approach that favors the way people are dining: lots of flavors, lots of tastes and fewer old standards such as a piece of meat, a potato and a veggie.
Stock’s on 2nd is reborn. It’s fun. It’s friendly. And it’s got a broad array of really good stuff to eat and drink.
Photo by Stock’s on Second Facebook page
The land, sea and air entree
STOCK’S ON 2ND
211 N. Second St., Harrisburg; 717.233.6699; www.stocksonsecond.com
Hours: Dinner starts at 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Dinner starts at 4 p.m. Sunday;Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m. Monday-Friday.
Street and nearby garage parking; acceptsmajor credit cards.
The Phantom Diner has been a longtime restaurant reviewer for Central PA Magazine