House & Barn

House & Barn

“Have you tried House & Barn yet?” has worked its way into regular rotation on my list of small talk topics, less as a conversational filler and more as a civic duty. Hyperbolic, perhaps, but unnecessary, no. (Let it be known that I am on a mission to have as many people try the Barn B Q Nachos as possible.)

When I think of House & Barn, I think of Thanksgiving dinner, if only because it is the only other food-centric occasion worth fasting all day for so that you have the room to try a little bit of everything.

Of all the possible options in the Lehigh Valley to eat, none can serve as a pinch hitter for House & Barn. The idyllic property’s historic buildings and enormous willow trees set a relaxing stage for one of the Lehigh Valley’s dreamiest dining destinations. There just isn’t anything like it, in part because this restaurant is actually two.


The Barn is as charismatic as it is comfortable. If you can imagine a country music video come to life, you’re on the right track. It almost feels like a polished roadhouse, with a come-as-you-are vibe and rustic walls of stone and wood. Overhead, charming string lights and exposed beams are the literal topping to the casual, enchanting vibe.   

There’s an emphasis on craft beer, and the petite menu was created by nothing less than a snack food savant: Beef Jerky or Pretzel Bites; Chili Cheese Dogs or Garden Herb Grilled Cheese; Crab Mac and Cheese or Short Rib Tortillas.

While an entire evening can most certainly be spent at Barn, I opted to start my night with a drink and appetizer there. The beer list was tempting, especially with local personal favorites like Funk and Søle on draft, but I wanted something that I couldn’t get anywhere else. Honey Bee, a fan-favorite cocktail, has apparently survived several cocktail offering overhauls. It sounds syrupy sweet, but the lemon bitters gave the gin-based drink a zesty punch that was light and tart on the palate with a pleasantly sweet finish. I loved it.

For my appetizer, I went for the Barn B Q Nachos. Nachos often suffer from one of three shortcomings: insufficient toppings, soggy chips, or cheese that dries and forms a layer of dairy concrete over your helpless tortillas. Barn’s nachos had none of these afflictions, and they were unlike any iteration of the dish that I’ve encountered before. The flavor was endless layers of smoke, sweetness, and spice. The smoked pulled pork was impossibly tender, and the aged manchego cheese melted perfectly into every nook and cranny.

I could’ve sat there scooping up every last bite of pork and heirloom tomato for hours—but I boxed most of the nachos to go and headed to dinner next door.

(For the record, when I reheated them in the oven the next day, they were just as good as the first time.)


It’s a slightly slower tempo at the House, named for its century-old farmhouse past. House is stately, but not stuffy; it’s inviting, but not intimidating. The menu is equally approachable—there isn’t an unpronounceable ingredient in sight—but is also somehow an epicurean encyclopedia without being overwhelming. Separated into “smalls” and “bigs,” all of the dishes have satisfying but restrained portions so that many plates can be sampled and shared throughout the course of a meal.

Any indication of favoritism is absent from the menu. Instead, it showcases a wide interpretation of influences, textures, and flavor profiles across the offerings. There is a beef entree, but also pork, chicken, scallops, salmon, duck, tuna, and shrimp. Every protein makes a tempting appearance, and is artistically plated with an intriguing mate (chicken with smoked potato bacon hash, salmon with bacon tomato jam, scallops with orange vanilla vinaigrette and ginger fizz).

Across the table, we shared the House Pho, which was a savory delight; the Meat and Cheese Plate, the flavors of which were deliciously complementary; and the Summer Salad, which was bursting with freshness and had goat cheese so creamy that it seemed to melt in my mouth. The highlight of the meal was my Shrimp “big,” with grilled triangles of polenta that looked like pineapple and had a lightly crispy exterior and creamy, buttery interior. It paired perfectly with the grilled shrimp and fresh corn and crab salad, accented by the housemade coconut vinaigrette.

It’s worth mentioning that the wine list is a comprehensive tasting document in its own right, with carefully selected glasses and bottles. The Grand Ballon Sauvignon Blanc was a refreshing and fruity accompaniment to my dinner. 

For dessert, we split the Affogato. As a child, I loved coffee ice cream. Affogato has thus become one of my favorite desserts, and one that I rarely see offered. I suppose I love it because it’s such a juxtaposition: a spoonful split between cold, sweet ice cream and hot, bitter espresso. This version came with housemade pistachio ice cream, with intact pistachios for a fun crunch (much like having a sprinkle of granola in your yogurt).

From start to finish, it was a perfect dining experience.

Float Between

Refined Rustic and


Perhaps one of the best features of House & Barn is the seemingly endless ways that it can be experienced. Each restaurant has a more casual high-top stool eating area, dining rooms with conventional tables, a bar, and a romantic outdoor patio, making for eight different settings in one stunning locale.

“We focus on the food as much as the atmosphere,” says Executive Chef Greg Fiedler. “Those two things in conjunction really make someone’s experience. With all of our different settings, you can sit down and have something a little more intimate at either place, but you can also just get together and mingle with friends for appetizers or happy hour drinks.”

Do as I did and glide between the two, or turn each into an outing of its own. Whatever you do, don’t let the rest of al fresco dining season slip by without stopping by one of the
pastoral patios. (And don’t forget to try the nachos.)

House & Barn
1449 Chestnut St, Emmaus

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