🎉Cheers to this wonderful review by Kristina Gonzales! 👇🏼
Easton has been quite the popular location in the Lehigh Valley this year with its downtown area welcoming new culinary attractions like the Easton Public Market. Though if you’re not in the mood for the chaos a trip downtown sometimes incurs, you can still have a gastronomic experience in the Easton area by taking a trip to The James Eatery on Greenwood Avenue in Palmer Township.
On Saturday evening I went to try their dinner service, though they also serve breakfast and lunch every day of the week except Tuesdays, when they’re closed.
Walking in we were greeted by the hostess, who also happens to be owner Corey J. Kunsman’s girlfriend. We were kindly given the option of sitting in the spacious sunroom with wood beams, or in the dining room, and we also had our choice of tables. We chose a cozy table in the dining room near the exposed stone wall. The restaurant only seats 75 people, but because of the way in which the tables and chairs are set up you don’t feel too close to other guests in the restaurant. The tables are set with white linen, a glass table cover and fresh flowers in the middle. The pale yellow color of walls gave the dining room a warmth that made it feel like a friend’s house instead of a restaurant. It’s a casual atmosphere, yet sophisticated enough that it can be a perfect intimate spot for a special occasion. Outside dining is also available on the patio, but the weather did not permit us to enjoy that option.
Our server, Josh, came to our table right away to greet us and pour us ice water. The restaurant is BYOB, but we opted not to bring along a bottle of wine for our dinner that evening. Instead, I ordered a glass of their Fresh-Brewed Iced Tea ($3) while my guest decided to try the 24 oz. pot of Loose-Leaf Strawberry Rhubarb Green Tea ($4). Even though I didn’t ask, the server was gracious enough to bring me a cup so I could have hot tea as well. The teapot and cups were unique, and we both felt pretty hip drinking out of glass cups inserted with stainless steel holders. What really set it off though was the local honey stick that came placed inside each tea cup. If the drinks had already impressed me this much, you better believe I was excited for what else was in store.
Now onto the main menu. Have you ever been to a place where the menu was so big you just felt too overwhelmed to pick anything? Well, The James Eatery isn’t one of those places. The entire dinner menu is on one page, and easy to read. The cuisine offered is mostly modern American fare, but do take note that some ethnic foods make an appearance, like Asian-inspired lettuce wraps with teriyaki chicken, sesame slaw and mango habanero salsa ($12) or the Ginger Teriyaki Chicken entrée served with rice pilaf and sautéed vegetables ($20), or even a few Italian-influenced dishes like Tuscan Kale Minestrone ($5) or their take on Penne Carbonara ($19).
Although tempting, we decided to stick (mostly) to the classics. To share, we chose the Roasted Garlic ($8) served with vegetable accompaniments and warm bread. I ordered the Beet Salad ($10) for my appetizer while my guest ordered the Tuscan Kale Minestrone. For my entrée, I knew I couldn’t pass up the Beer-Braised Short Ribs ($22). Also in the mood for some red meat that evening, my guest ordered the Steak Frites ($30). Be sure to keep in mind when ordering a steak that the chef cooks them till they are “juicy and delicious” (about medium) and modifications are not accepted. So if you’re someone who likes their steak cooked in a specific way, perhaps go with another one of their delicious entrée options. Note that we decided to be a little fancy with our dinner choices, but there are more casual, inexpensive meals to choose from. Some sandwiches are offered during the dinner service, like the Chicken Cheesesteak ($12), Steak Cheesesteak ($14) and a Vegetarian Sandwich ($11).
Tuscan Minestrone Soup
Credit: Kristina Gonzalez
Tuscan Kale Minestrone Soup topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese
When our appetizers came out, I was pleasantly surprised with the large portions. The Tuscan Kale Minestrone was served in a big white bowl, topped with a fluffy mound of freshly grated parmesan cheese. My Beet Salad was large enough to be a meal. Large pieces of red beets, creamy globs of goat cheese and pistachios laid upon of bed of crisp mixed greens tossed in the house-made lemon vinaigrette. The salad was not overdressed, and the pistachios added a crunchy texture that most beet salads are usually missing. Next time though, I think I will ask someone to share a salad with me since it was more a meal-sized portion than an appetizer. I sneaked a bite of the Tuscan Kale Minestrone and my mouth was met with the freshness of kale along with the creaminess of the cannellini beans. The roasted garlic appetizer stole the show for this course, though. Presented before us was a plate of perfectly roasted garlic cloves on one side, and roasted cut-up pieces of asparagus on the other, while five pieces of bread sat layered in the middle brushed with olive oil and lightly seasoned with pepper and other spices. The garlic cloves were literally spreadable like butter, and if you really want to be adventurous, I recommend placing a piece of the asparagus on top for a perfect bite. Save the crust of the bread to soak up all that olive oil goodness on the bottom of the plate.
After clearing our appetizer plates, I excused myself to the ladies room. The restroom doors are adorned with a mustache for the men’s room and a big pair of red lips for the ladies. I was immediately taken back by the immaculate appearance of the restroom. When you walk in, straight back there is a large mirror with a counter and chairs pulled up so ladies can touch up their hair, makeup, etc. There are also a variety of toiletries at your disposal. There is only one large bathroom stall that has a changing table, and there are feminine products available if needed. I know it’s not typical to discuss a bathroom in a restaurant review, but I was so impressed that I had to share.
Shortly after I returned to the table, our entrees were brought out to us. My large, tender Beer-Braised Short Rib was served with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans. No need for a knife here. My short rib fell right off the bone, and I was easily able to pull apart chunks of juicy meat with my fork. My potatoes were mashed just how I like them, with the skin on. The garlic flavor in the potatoes was not overpowering. You won’t find salt and pepper shakers on the tables here, and you definitely don’t need them. My guest was feeling generous and gave me a bite of his peppery steak that was cooked to a perfect medium temperature (I sneaked a couple house-made French fries off his plate, too). Wanting to make sure we had room for dessert, though, we boxed up the rest of our entrees.
As we were deliberating over what decadent treat we were going to indulge in, the chef/owner came out to say hello to his guests, since dinner service had slowed down. Having Chef Corey come to our table and ask us about our meal truly made this a stand-out experience. Rarely do you see anymore (at least for me) a chef take the time to converse with his or her guests. And this was not just a typical, “How do you do?” Chef Corey took the time to introduce himself, have a conversation with us and answer any questions we had. We asked him what his favorite dessert was, and he recommended the Mini Apple Crumb Pie ($6). Being choco-holics though, we decided on the Chocolate Layer Cake with Peanut Butter Icing ($6). And we couldn’t turned down a fresh pot of French-Pressed Coffee ($4).
The rich cup of coffee accompanied by the moist chocolate cake that had just the right amount of creamy peanut butter icing was the perfect ending to a fabulous dining experience. Dinner for the two of us with three appetizers, two entrees, three beverages and a shared dessert came to a total of $97.52 (not including gratuity). With the large portions, outstanding service and flavor-packed dishes I’d say it was worth every penny. I’m already planning my next trip to try out brunch, so I can get my French-Pressed Coffee fix and try the Shrimp Benedict Chef Corey was telling me he’s famous for.
The James Eatery is open Monday and Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Sundays they are open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then reopen from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For reservations, call 610-438-1339. To like The James Eatery on Facebook, click here.
Kristina Gonzalez is a lifelong Lehigh Valley resident who works in the publishing industry. She enjoys dining out regularly and trying new restaurants in the area.