Apollo Grill

Apollo Grill

by Cathy Kiley

It’s hard for me to believe that Apollo Grill has been around for over 15 years. But, as the old saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” The Apollo is a cornerstone of downtown Bethlehem’s dining scene and, overseen by co-owners Dyanne & Rod Holt and Patty & Tucker Lyons, as well as Manager Rachael Griffith, it continues to garner accolades for consistency in service, ambiance and food quality.

I have spent many hours at The Apollo over the years, whether it be for lunch with the girls, a drink with friends before a show or dinner with Tom and family. Quite simply, it is perfect for every occasion. The atmosphere is lively and fun and you will usually run into somebody you know.

Some pretty exceptional ladies work the bar at The Apollo with Alisha and MaryBeth as well as Assistant Manager Erin doing the honors the night we visited. Alisha prepared a perfectly chilled Cosmopolitan for me and poured a glass of Luisa Pinot Grigio for Tom as we shared stories. The bar is the place to be on any given night at Apollo. There you’ll find business clothes mixing with casual as visitors to Bethlehem stop in after a day of shopping for libation before settling in at a comfy table either inside or al fresco. Indoors, the lighting is perfect for Apollo’s warm colors and minimalist decor. You feel as if you’re dining in an intimate gallery surrounded by work of local artists that rotates about every three months. Oils of Saucon Valley Country Club’s Weyhill Course by Jane Gaughran were on display when we visited. Combined with Rod Holt’s collection of golf memorabilia, Apollo’s walls allow for an interesting backdrop. Take a moment to admire them.

Tom and I settled into a barside booth where we had a bird’s eye view of the restaurant. Our exceptional server Chad, who’s been at Apollo for years, was quick to our table to talk about the menu and specials for the evening.

The appetizer menu at Apollo is impressive with 30 or so to choose from. Most times we select several appetizers to share because they are all so delicious. This night we selected two. We began with Asian Lettuce Wraps. The crisp lettuce was cut in manageable pieces allowing me to actually “lift” them to my mouth. The delicious ingredients didn’t fall out all over the plate, necessitating the use of a fork as is so often the case with lettuce wraps. Savory lean beef short ribs garnished with scallion, radish, cucumber and red pepper slaw, spiced up by Duck, Soy and Thai Chili sauces enhanced the very crisp cold lettuce. We enjoyed the wraps very much. They were an incredible blend of sweetness and spice – a perfect starter.

We also selected Tuna Carpaccio – another of our favorites. The very fresh pepper-crusted tuna was seared super rare, rolled and stuffed with capers, red onions, mesclun greens and served with wasabi sauce and lemon aioli. This presentation differs from the norm where very thin slices of tuna are served surrounding an array of accompaniments. This version is very rich and could be a meal in itself. It’s absolutely delicious. We ordered a Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir from Apollo’s well-priced, unpretentious wine list, which was perfect with our dinner selections.

Apollo Grill SandwichI love and recommend the hot and spicy Thai Sesame-Encrusted Shrimp; Blue Chip Lobster Tacos with corn, lobster, cheddar and jack cheeses with sweet chili sauce and Sweet Potato and Horseradish Crusted Scallops served in lemon beurre blanc sauce that we have enjoyed on previous visits. Appetizers also include oysters on the half shell; Pork Spring Rolls with caramelized onion, sweet potato and apple with maple au jus; Crab Cakes and Lobster Ravioli with a sweet and spicy honey chipotle sauce. There are so many interesting appetizer preparations from which to choose – it’s always fun to order a bunch and pass with a group of good friends.

If you’re in the mood for a sandwich or salad, there are many on the menu including a Tricolore Salad with Belgian endive, radicchio, arugula, goat cheese, mandarin oranges, walnuts, roasted red beets and honey vanilla balsamic vinaigrette; plus an Avocado Caprese Panini with fresh mozzarella, tomato, arugula, pesto aioli and garlic butter. Add Baked French Onion soup, Crab and Asparagus Bisque or Apollo’s Soup du Jour and that completes the meal!

We selected from the entrée menu this night. Tom loves the slow roasted Lamb Shank in Merlot sauce at Apollo and always orders it. The lamb was very lean and fall-off-the-bone tender served with sides of sweet potato mashed and green beans that were sautéed crisp in a bit of garlic. Tom enjoyed his meal very much and although he kept saying how he would never finish the dish, he ate every bit! My Panko Crusted Sea Scallops were outstanding. I prefer my scallops cooked through but not overdone. These were perfect with an incredible array of sides including jasmine rice with coconut, peas and cashews surrounded by an orange shallot sauce. Again, the portion was very generous and I brought some home to allow for a dessert tasting.

Other entrée selections include Szechwan Duck Breast with udon noodles and vegetables, brandy, green peppercorn and cranberry sauce; Osso Buco – braised Veal Shank in Venetian sauce as well as Medallions of Veal with asparagus, peas, and sugar snaps in a creamy lemon parmesan sauce to name a few. Fresh fish is on the menu as are steaks prepared to your liking, both served with a choice of sauces. I appreciate that Apollo chooses not to add a charge for their sauces as is now common at many restaurants.

There were nine homemade desserts on Apollo Grill’s menu from which to choose. However, I spotted my choice floating by on a tray before we even ordered dinner. My multi-layered Mexican Chocolate Cake with peanut butter mousse filling and chocolate ganache tasted even better than it looked! It was incredibly decadent and delicious – a chocolate-lover’s dream. Tom had a sampling of refreshing blackberry and peach sorbets, which were perfect after his heavy lamb shank. We ordered coffee and espresso that were both piping hot – just the way coffee should be served. 

Executive Chef Chris Dollak was born and raised in Bethlehem and his skills are self-taught and honed in the Lehigh Valley. Following stints at Silver Creek Country Club, Cascade Lodge and The Belmont Inn, he began as Apollo’s Sous Chef 10 years ago. He believes his drive and passion have propelled him forward in career choices that have brought him to this reputable position at Apollo today. When asked about his eclectic menu creations and interesting combinations of tastes, he replied that he likes to offer a variety of food to meet everyone’s tastes. Chef Dollak further noted that everyone at Apollo Grill cares about each other. He works with a great team in the kitchen, a wonderful service crew and he credits the owners with making Apollo Grill feel like home.


It’s great fun to dine at Apollo Grill. The food is always wonderful which is something local foodies count on. The service is professional but friendly and you always feel welcome here. They are open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. I would recommend calling 610.865.9600 for a reservation, especially on the weekend.

Apollo Grill is conveniently located at 85 West Broad Street in Bethlehem. There is ample street parking as well as the convenient parking garage around the corner. Visit apollogrill.com for complete menus and other information about Apollo, including their philanthropic Therapeutic Thursdays to benefit local non-profit organizations.  

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