May 22, 201410:49 AMFood & Dining
Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought
The Universal Language of Food and Poetry
Just off the Limekiln exit of I-83 in New Cumberland, The Garlic Poet Restaurant & Bar stands as a beacon of fine cuisine and high-minded literary notions. With a sophisticated literary-themed atmosphere, a locally sourced menu of unique culinary masterpieces and an impressive craft-beer and fine wine selection, The Garlic Poet is truly an epicurean gem in the midstate.
“It’s just a universal thing in every culture,” says Aaron Hefelfinger, marketing promotions coordinator. “Food and poetry is the universal language, it’s this uniting concept to bring people together for the food.” Hence the must-see and must-experience combination of The Garlic Poet’s wordsmith-honoring environment and impressive palate-pleasing fare.
Hesitant to assign a blanket label to the cuisine, Executive Chef Kurt Wewer brings together trendy tastes and flavors from all across the globe with a commitment to local food sources and a from-scratch approach.
“I pull all kinds of international influences in,” explains Wewer. “Local, from-scratch, eclectic and sophisticated – the idea was gastropub, in the way that gastropubs can do anything, because they have that umbrella term. It’s tough to really put a label on the food. Everything is truly from scratch, and we make everything ourselves.”
“The broadest term you can use would probably be New American,” adds Hefelfinger. “Anything that’s new or trendy, Chef Wewer always wants to put his own twist on it, and it’s always great.”
Chef Wewer points to The Garlic Poet’s Chef’s Charcuterie Board (a house-made selection of seasonal sausage, cured meat and accompaniments) as epitomizing the restaurant’s cuisine. The selection can change weekly or even daily, but an example of the Chef’s Charcuterie Board offered in April consisted of fennel-lemon pork belly sausage, juniper-cured lardo on grilled baguette, pheasant and red pepper rillette, giardinera pickles, Tröegs Perpetual IPA mustard, grilled pale ale and amaranth focaccia and Di Bruno Bros Noord Hollander gouda topped with citrus and cascade hop honey.
Other menu highlights include the Chef’s Burger Du Jour (a constantly changing hand-made burger, which could be anything from bison, duck or pork to ostrich, lamb or sausage topped with hand-selected accompaniments) and the Chef’s Seafood Du Jour (prepared-daily, fresh day boat seafood paired with seasonal accompaniments).
“The Burger Du Jour was an idea that my sous chef and I came up with because we wanted to be able to start bringing in wild game meats in an easy, approachable way for everyone, not just foodies,” describes Chef Wewer. “It could be a duck burger with chili orange sauce and some pickles, or it could be a buffalo burger with gorgonzola. It changes almost every day.”
He continues, “The Seafood Du Jour is another thing that changes just about every day. I literally call my fish purveyor and say, ‘What’s running right now?’ And he says, ‘OK, right now, skate wing off the Maryland coast.’ And I say, ‘That’s what I want,’ and that’s what we get. ...For the accompaniments, we do a CSA share with Spiral Path Farms, so it’s different for us every week.”
Just as unique and varied as The Garlic Poet’s menu is their wide selection of drinks. “We have 18 brews on tap and more than 20 in bottles, and much of it is local,” says Chef Wewer, a home brewer himself. “I’m committed to eight to 10 taps and half to three-quarters of the bottle list to be local beers – Liquid Hero, Tröegs, Millbock Brewing, Round Guys Brewing.”
The Garlic Poet also offers a hand-selected wine list as well as a hand-crafted drink menu with signature cocktails like a bacon old fashioned (made with house-smoked-bacon-infused bourbon and Pennsylvania maple syrup) and a blood orange palm martini, to name just two.
“On our menu, we have a beer and wine pairing suggestion for everything,” says Chef Wewer.
Throughout the summer, The Garlic Poet will be hosting beer dinners once a month with local breweries and a local band on their tented patio. Diners also won’t want to miss the Mother’s Day brunch this month on May 11.
The Garlic Poet is truly unlike any other dining establishment in the area, and that is exactly what Chef Wewer and Hefelfinger like most about it.
“It’s the most unique dining experience in Central Pa.,” Chef Wewer says. “If you enjoy very good food and very good beer, this is the place you should go. ...My passion is to make people happy with food and craft beer, and Garlic Poet brings people together with great food and great beer.”
Hefelfinger adds, “Nobody else is doing this, especially not at this level, with the local sourcing and literally everything from-scratch and in-house. For me, you can just taste the difference in everything.”
The Garlic Poet Restaurant & Bar is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, with the bar staying open later. Reservations are recommended for Thursday through Saturday as well as special occasions, like Mother’s Day.