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One13 Social: Casual yet upscale current culinary trends

  • By Phantom Diner

There is little that warms your Phantom’s heart more than finding a newish Central Pa. eatery that’s both good and seemingly set for the long haul.

Too many places have faulty starts. Too many places come and go quickly.

But One13 Social in downtown Carlisle (the name is from the address, 113 W. High St.) feels like the kind of place that not only has its legs early but also is likely to stand a long while.

The key to this, in this instance, is two things.

The first thing is it fills and improves upon a restaurant venue, the former Brick Kitchen & Bar, which I reviewed mostly favorably in 2016, and which, nonetheless, closed in 2020.

The second thing is the place is run by local experienced hands, in this case, Carlisle native Kevin Rockwood, who spent nearly 20 years managing the Boiling Springs Tavern, according to PennLive reporting.

The interior at One13 will look familiar to former Brick patrons. It’s still sleek, modern and yet cozy. But the dining area has been expanded. A second, smaller bar has been added. There’s a lovely outdoor area off a beautiful two-story, glass-walled bar in the back. And a complaint that I, and apparently others, had about Brick, high noise levels, has been mitigated with tasteful, discreet acoustic and artsy wall panels throughout.

When a dining companion and I visited, we were told the place takes no reservations, but you can call ahead to assess the crowd size and, if too busy, get on a list for a later table.

We got a seat at the original bar which is large, u-shaped and marble-topped, with cushioned stools. The restaurant was packed on a weeknight.

The menu is somewhat limited, which is always to my liking since it suggests freshness in the kitchen. But it includes enough variety for just about any taste. There are small plates, salads, entrées, sandwiches, house-special cocktails, a very nice selection of craft and bottled beer, plus a broad variety of wines. Wine by-the-glass pours are generous.

I started with a house cocktail dubbed The Draper, named in honor of fictional Madison Avenue ad exec Don Draper of the “Mad Men” TV series, portrayed by actor Jon Hamm.

This is a dangerously delicious drink, commonly known as a Black Manhattan. It’s made with rye whiskey and Italian Amaro liqueur, served up with a cherry. It was well-made and extremely smooth.

Next came roasted oysters served in their shells with wild boar bacon, chipotle garlic butter and cheese crisps. Just wonderful. Other small plates range from $9 for miso soup with soy egg to $16 for Cubano shrimp kabob. There’s also she-crab bisque, confit chicken wings, Korean BBQ ribs and a tuna tartare tostado.

We split a perfectly balsamic-dressed gem lettuce salad with radicchio and roasted nuts, easily large enough for two. There is also a kale Caesar salad and a poached pear salad. Salads can be up-priced with add-ons of chicken, shrimp, steak or salmon. Each could make a meal.

Entrees range from $21 for a vegan “Buddha Bowl” of couscous, beans, hummus and watermelon radish, to $28 for Argentinian flank steak or pork roulade with broccoli rabe. There’s also chicken Florentine with sherry cream and wild rice.

My companion had salmon au poivre with spinach, gratin potatoes and a cognac cream. I opted for a bowl of scampi gnocchi with cherry tomatoes and cut-up asparagus. Both dishes were excellent. In my case, the shrimp were large and the gnocchi pillowy.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise at One13 was waitstaff. It was large. And despite a big crowd of diners, very efficient, knowledgeable about the menu and friendly. This at a time when so many restaurants seem to struggle with hiring and keeping good servers.

The stylings and offerings at One13 follow current trends in casual yet upscale dining. But if service and quality during my visit are the norm here, One13 is doing current trends better than most eateries in our region, and likely to do so for some time to come.

ONE13 SOCIAL:

113 W. High St., Carlisle

Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday; street or side-street parking; does not currently take reservations; 717-706-3514; one13social.com.

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