Options at Greystone Public House to please almost anyone
By Phantom Diner
April brings, at long last and hopefully continuing, relaxation of limits on indoor dining. Plus, as weather gods permit, more opportunity to dine al fresco.
The old Greystone Public House, off the intersection of Linglestown and Colonial roads northeast of Harrisburg, provides a great setting for both.
But your Phantom has so missed dining indoors that I chose to sit inside, in an historic setting, the site of a tavern whose first liquor license was issued in 1805.
The building is grand, the interior is contemporary, the feel is casual and, for the fresh-air crowd, there are large, torch-encircled outdoor eating areas, both covered and open.
My dining partner and I went on a weeknight and found the place busy, both inside and out, but within capacity rules and distancing enforced.
We were seated at a table for four by a window in a large bar-centric dining room where décor is simple and smart, in color schemes of cream, black and, of course, grey.
The menu isn’t overly large, which always is a good sign. But it offers lots of choice: large salads, handhelds, small plates and large plates, plus a kid’s menu, following the trend away from restaurants serving only full entrees.
Even better, Greystone allows small and large servings of salads as well as two sizes of wines by the glass. More places should do this. There’s also emphasis on local farms, breweries and distilleries.
Cocktails run in $12 to $14 range. There are fun house drinks such as the Friendly Persuasion made with local David E. Bourbon, strawberry, Aperol (Italian aperitif), dry vermouth and bitters. Our cocktails were served with delicious onion and cheddar biscuits and a bacon butter.
There’s an extensive beer list, domestic, imported and regional, including draft pints and growlers, and a nice selection of wines.
Salads, priced by size from $6 to $12, include a local lettuce salad, a butter lettuce salad, a spinach salad with roasted beets, onions and pistachio-crusted goat cheese, and a Caesar salad. You can add chicken, a crab cake or salmon to make a salad a meal.
A word about the “small” salad, and the Caesar. First, there’s nothing small about it. It easily can be shared by two. And when I suggested a few anchovies on the Caesar would be nice, mine arrived with no fewer than 10. This, for me, is a good thing.
Handhelds run from $12 for Nashville hot cauliflower tacos to $18 for a burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and house sauce, and also include a Reuben, a crab cake sandwich on a brioche or a fried oyster po-boy on a baguette with Creole remoulade.
Small plates run from $5 for house-made BBQ chips with horseradish cheese dip to $8 for French onion soup with cognac and gruyere cheese (proclaimed very good by my partner) to $18 for a tuna poke stack. Plus, there are cheeses and meats, a veggie board, humus, baked brie and more.
I chose oysters on the half shell ($16) served with both mignonette and cocktail sauce and a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce. Very good.
Entrees, from $24 for butternut squash risotto to market price for butcher cuts of the day and seafood of the day, include grilled salmon, braised short ribs, diver scallops, a roasted half chicken, and pappardelle with pancetta and duck ragout.
I opted for seafood of the day, a grilled swordfish prepared with a sauce that sounded like it would kill the flavor of the fish, the sort of sauce my partner describes as “too-much-goin’-on-here sauce.” Fortunately, our server agreed I could get the fish sans sauce. It was fine by itself. And pork belly hash served with it was excellent.
My partner raved about the scallops, which were stuffed with crabmeat, set atop dollops of mashed potatoes and served with pancetta and succotash.
Dessert of a lemon sorbet came in a huge two-scoop serving accompanied by a chocolate chip cookie the size, heft, shape and density of a hockey puck.
But apart from the cookie, everything I tasted at Greystone was good. My sole complaint about the meal was its pacing. Entrees arrived before earlier dishes were finished and cleared. Picky, I know. But some prefer dining to eating.
Overall, this is a family-friendly place with menu selections to please almost anyone, and a variety of pricing options. I’m also impressed by its policy stressing wage equity for kitchen staff by adding a 2% charge to food bills. All restaurants should do this.
GREYSTONE PUBLIC HOUSE
2120 Colonial Road, Harrisburg
Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday; Sunday brunch, 10 to 3