Atmosphere and quality menu bring crowds to The Englewood in Hershey
By Phantom Diner
A recent visit to The Englewood in Hershey brought back memories of another, regrettably-gone, Central Pennsylvania eatery with an onsite brewery: Koda, in Lower Paxton Township, favorably reviewed here in the fall of 2019.
But The Englewood, in a beautifully renovated 19th Century barn, is vastly larger and includes a concert venue, two-story dinning, bars, a deck and a large patio for outdoor dining.
Still, the vibe of the place reminded me of Koda. Attractive, wide-open spaces, a casual atmosphere, good service and, for a brewery, better-than-expected food selections and quality.
That combination appears to be working well in Hershey. Even on a weeknight, and even though The Englewood can seat and serve hundreds of patrons, the place was packed.
I always have doubts about larger venues with large menus, and how well a kitchen and waitstaff responds to crowds. But I was impressed by everything about The Englewood.
My party of four had dinner reservations in the Tavern, which is on the lower level. It’s large, bright and cheery. It’s got beamed ceilings, stone walls, a long bar, brick oven at one end, a large white-brick fireplace at the other, and wooden pillars throughout. Upstairs, there’s The Listening Room for live music, which also serves as a large dining room. There’s a separate bar just outside it.
The Englewood emphasizes local or Pennsylvania-sourced food, beer and spirits. Seating is well-spaced. But, depending on crowd size, things can, as you might expect, get noisy.
Craft cocktails are fun. They include a vodka sour with Stateside Vodka (from Philadelphia), an old fashioned with David E’s Bourbon (from the Hidden Still in Hershey) and, for those who like dessert before meals, a “PB&YAY!” – chocolate vodka, cream bourbon, peanut butter and HERSHEY’S chocolate.
Englewood’s draft beers, such as Bam-Ba-Lam Amber Ale or Juke Box Lager, are $6 each, or $9 for a flight of any four. There’s a limited wine selection by the glass or bottle.
The food menu offers an array of starters, handhelds, salads and soups, entrees, pizza, dishes “from our smoker” featuring baby back ribs, pork shoulder, brisket or chicken, and a kids’ menu.
Starters run from $8, for delightful deviled eggs with bacon jam, to $14 for hot pepper shrimp, breaded and served with banana peppers. Other starters include chorizo sausage with house-made tortilla chips, roasted beets and smoked brisket poutine.
Good-sized salads include a house salad, a Caesar, a roasted beet and spinach salad, a spicy Santa Fe salad with black bean salsa and panzanella with mozzarella.
Soups were Maryland crab and a spicy corn chowder. The latter won praise from one of our party.
Handhelds are served with French fries and range from $14, for a plant-based burger with vegan cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion on a sweet potato roll, to $18 for a crab cake sandwich. There’s a banh mi sandwich, a grilled caprese chicken sandwich and more.
There are several styles of hearth-fired pizzas, including create-your-own with a selection of toppings, and a family-style deep dish pie.
Entrees, priced from $18 for a mushroom pate served atop a quinoa, green chickpea, kale and edamame salad to $34 for a char-grilled Angus beef filet mignon. Some entrees and all “from our smoker” dishes come with two sides, including fingerling potatoes, fries, slaw, barbecued bakes beans and a small house salad.
Other entrees during my visit included grilled salmon, fried butterflied shrimp, shrimp and grits, crab cakes and the smoked-meats dishes.
I opted for shrimp and grits ($20), served with jambalaya sauce and chimichurri, which was close to a perfect rendering of the Southern classic.
Others in our foursome had crab cakes with mac and cheese and slaw ($32); a Caesar, which was very lightly dressed and with blackened shrimp ($17), and smoked beef brisket with a bourdon barbecue sauce and fries ($21).
No one at our table was unhappy with their choices.
Choices are key at The Englewood. There are many, including Sunday brunch.
The variety of dining and drink options and the fact the place is relatively new, having opened last summer amid pandemic restrictions, is no doubt the reason for crowds even on weeknights.
Give it a try. Both the venue and the quality make it worth a visit.
1219 Research Blvd., Hummelstown
Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday, and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Onsite parking; reservations suggested by calling 717-256-9480 or emailing email@example.com