1774 Grille & Tap

Seated along Hellertown’s main drag is 1774 Grille & Tap, a lively haven for foodies that offers fresh, local sourcing and casual fine dining. Purchased in 1747 by Frederick Scholl, the historic spot was owned by the Heller family from 1774 until 1821, later becoming the Pennsylvania Hotel in 1872. Today, the landmark has a new focus—foodies—and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Not even a year old, this newcomer to the dining scene is already on its way to creating a local legacy. In fact, 1774 Grille & Tap will celebrate its first anniversary this March. With its low ceilings and cozy rooms, the restaurant feels colonial chic, and it embraces its roots with a historic slideshow of photos in the dining room. Owner Kim Culver-Adams should be proud—her restaurant is truly a hidden gem.

And now, the food. While 1774 Grille & Tap isn’t a seafood restaurant—meat lovers will find plates like Beef Stew, Beef Short Rib Flatbread, and Molasses Brined Pork Chop—my dining companion and I decided to treat the evening like dinner at the shore because there were so many tempting menu items from the sea.

With a menu boasting a plethora of appetizers and small plates to kickstart the evening, we opted to order “a little bit of everything” and share it all. As a hummus aficionado, I couldn’t turn down the Toasted Pine Nut Hummus, and as an occasional hedonist, I also couldn’t leave without ordering the Pomme Frites. Both were solid choices: the hummus was smooth and garlicky and would’ve paired with just about anything, while the Pomme Frites were crispy, salty, and moderately to severely addictive.

The Tuna Tartare was a delightful surprise, with little cubes of bright pink tuna and butternut squash atop a bed of crispy kale. Do you remember when kale chips weren’t a “thing” and when rare kale sightings only took place at fancy salad bars, where it would serve as decor instead of the magnificent edible treasure that it is? I’m really glad we don’t live in that world anymore. The tuna was good, but the crispy kale at the bottom of the dish was actually amazing. I could have (and currently would) eat a bowl of it.

It was earthy and savory–the kind of broth that made me want to get a job in the restaurant’s kitchen for a weekend so that I could steal the recipe.

A simple but memorable dish was the Shrimp Flatbread, with fresh arugula pesto and tomato. It was the perfect thing to share, and a wonderful prelude to the entree that followed, the Striped Sea Bass. It was served with shallot-barley risotto, and a hot porcini mushroom broth was poured over the entire dish at the table. It was earthy and savory—the kind of broth that made me want to get a job in the restaurant’s kitchen for a weekend so that I could steal the recipe. The fish itself had perfectly crispy—almost crunchy in the best possible way—skin. Meanwhile, the shallot-barley risotto became little pearls of heaven as each piece soaked up the broth. You know all of the bottom pan drippings on Thanksgiving that someone’s culinarily-gifted grandmother would weave into the gravy? It somehow tasted like it was laced with that, but it wasn’t. It was refreshing to find a place that knows how to handle and celebrate vegetables so beautifully. The Sea Bass dish was definitely the star of the evening, and a plate I would recommend to anyone who likes mushrooms and fish.

1774 Grille & Tap makes all of its desserts, so of course, we couldn’t leave without a bite. We decided to get the S’moreo Ganache Tart, with an Oreo crust, chocolate ganache, and marshmallow brûlée. Between the rich and silky ganache, the fun marshmallow topping, and the crumbly Oreo crust, it was hard to put my fork down.

Hurry and try these menu items now, because they might not be there next month. As 1774 Grille & Tap sources seasonally and locally, the menu changes with the season. The spring menu will roll out on Wednesday, March 7, with a sneak peak dinner event that includes a 5-course tapas-style dining experience and wine pairing that evening.

While eating in the dining room is always an option, the bar is another choice for both socializing and enjoying the full menu. The crowd is fun and lively, and Maria Lopiccolo, the head bartender, is always experimenting with a fresh fruit puree or housemade syrup—think fig and Madagascar vanilla bean syrup or spiced pear puree. She is a true expert at pairing flavor preferences with drinks. (I had formally all but renounced whiskey in its entirety, and on an earlier visit, she convinced me to try a drink that she had just come up with that happened to have whiskey in it. “If you like red wine, you’ll like this,” she had assured me as I eyed the glass suspiciously. She was, of course, correct.) If you’re in the mood for a fun cocktail, definitely ask for her advice. If not, the bar also has an impressive wine selection and nearly a dozen craft beers on tap.

1774 Grille & Tap has truly managed to bring an upscale dining experience to Hellertown without any of the pretense. It is local, fresh, and a much-needed addition to the Lehigh Valley’s budding culinary scene.

1774 Grille & Tap

605 Main St, Hellertown | 610.838.1774

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