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“Great Meal, Unexpected Location”

Bolete Restaurant and Inn
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Ranked #1 of 366 Restaurants in Bethlehem
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $31 - $50
Cuisines: American
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Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Special occasions, Romantic, Local cuisine
Dining options: Breakfast, Late Night, Dinner, Lunch, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: E Emmaus Ave
Reviewed December 7, 2012

There's a lot to like about Bethlehem, PA, which terms itself "The Christmas City", and now I've discovered a restaurant that's reason enough to make a trip. After a great day shopping on Main Street (don't miss the Moravian Bookstore - so much more than books), touring the Moravian Historic District and exploring the Hotel Bethlehem, we wound up the hill to Bolete. You immediately get that this stone house on the corner was indeed once a stagecoach stop. The welcome is warm, the wait staff knowledgeable and the dining room charmingly rustic. The revelation is the food - equal in every way to that prepared in longer-established, larger, big-City, star chef restaurants. Our starters included foie gras, cauliflower soup with mushrooms and guanciale, tuna tartar in an apple broth and Duxbury oysters on the shell - each dish delicious, seasonally appropriate and nicely presented. Two of us had pork chop entrees, beautifully sauced, and two had diver scallops, perfectly seared. We were sure we couldn't manage dessert, but succumbed because the choices were great! Yes, the pace was stately and the price not insignificant. But worth every minute and dollar. Our compliments to Chef Lee Chizmar and his staff.

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Thank Enchantay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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259 - 263 of 346 reviews

Reviewed November 29, 2012

There is no place in the Lehigh Valley that tops Bolete in terms of quality dining. I've been to many top restaurants in NYC and other major cities, and Bolete and its team stand up to any other place in terms of menu offerings, quality, flavor, atmosphere and service. Portion sizes are perfect, pacing of the meal is perfect, all the servers are attentive and personable, and the bartender(s) are excellent. The food is always fresh, extremely well prepared and delicious. When I want to spoil myself with food, this is where I always go, and I've gone dozens of times.

Only one minor complaint: They recently bumped down the quality of some of the liquors used in their signature drinks. Probably could ask for particular liquors if you have a preference, but it'd be nice to see Grey Goose or Belvidere standard instead of Tito's, Tanqueray or Bluecoat instead of Beefeater, etc.

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Thank BGNLordHelmut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2012

Bolete! Where did this wonder come from? Our day travel this Sunday took us to Emmaus, Pennsylvania for its Farmer’s Market and then on to Bethlehem for lunch. When I went to Trip Advisor to find a good Sunday lunch restaurant I came upon Bolete. When I Googled Bolete’s site, I must say that my immediate reaction was somewhat low. Bolete offered a “brunch.” I am not normally interested in brunch restaruants. I am not impressed by how deep they can stack pancakes or how thick they can cut brioche French toast. I find such menus primarily hype for the hyper. I need substance. Still, considering the high ratings on Trip Advisor, I clicked on the brunch menu and “when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a brunch that proposed rich delights without peer.” Bolete’s menu entrancements lured me immediately. If the taste of the food on the table matched the taste my mind envisioned and then created on my tongue, Bolete would offer particular delights.
Bolete secretes itself in a colonial stone house on the angle of a confusing intersection on the outskirts of Bethlehem. The warped wooden entry door opens to a tiny center hall with a bar to the left and a dining room to the right. Erin Shea, the chef Lee Chizmar, greets us in the all. Our table is almost ready. She seats us. The eclectic décor of unmatched chairs, airy paintings, white linen and old wood invite you to sit conformably and quietly. (It would be wonderful if the chimney had a real fire, even a gas one.) The serving staff dashes about without a moment’s break but with the utmost grace and amiability. As is our travelling custom, if you read my other reviews, we always ask if we can create our own tasting menu. Our server assured us that this was no problem. Our first question resolved we made quick work of the menu decision.
The wait was a bit long. But where were we going? I also noticed in the activity around me that some dishes were going back to the kitchen. I wondered if they were mistakes or confusions. While we waited our server brought us a little basket of cakes, all very nice but not all that exceptional. As we shared the cakes I suddenly became aware of the tactile quality of linens. The warmth of the linen napkin on my lap and the rough-soft linen tablecloth under the skin of my wrists stirred a certain epicurean sensual pleasure.
Then, the first courses arrived. A deep bowl of ice cradled a half dozen raw oysters slightly touched by crisped shitake and scallions. They needed no lemon. They needed no sauces. Throw them back and fall into the salty brine of the Atlantic. Our server then brought three small bowls centered with shrimp, kumquats and mushrooms. Around this nucleus she poured from a little black kettle a white cream of parsnips: the sweet taste of velvet. Our third first course dish, the Tuna Tartare took us back to the oysters. The green apple broth with cucumber and leek floated the tongue in that mid ground between sweet and sour. Perhaps we should have begun with this dish.
We waited a bit more. Then our server arrived with heavily laden hands. I don’t know which was more bedazzled, my eyes from what they saw or my tongue for what it wished to savor. Let me go step by step, dish by dish. Chizmar’s egg dish that carries his own name floats from layer to layer. The billowing poached eggs break under the knife to slowly caress the sweet pillows of fried oysters, mushrooms and guanciale. On the side buttermilk biscuits return you to earth. The duck hash turns you around with the devilish flames of miniscule slices of green chilies dancing around the duck confit and golden brown potatoes: the whole surmounted by rich crowns of poached eggs. Our third selection, the shrimp and grits arrived in a small black cast iron skillet. The toasted grit cake, surmounted by the shrimp and velvet poached eggs, split to release a creamy interior texture.
What inspired Chizmar to these creations? Bolete, (by the way, it is pronounced Bo-leet from the Latin boletus = mushroom) moves the banal brunch to constantly swirling savory kaleidoscope. More important, Chizmar’s dishes are just plain good. There is nothing pretentious here and yet nothing pedestrian. Chizmar’s recipes are well thought out, sophisticated and substantial. Each course was more than sufficient and lent itself easily to sharing.
If there is anything Bolete might do to improve its offerings it would be to provide a side of bread. The egg and other plate remnants beg to be mopped from the platter. Lee Chizmar and Erin Shea have created a warm and simple dining room with a table of rich and wonderfully satisfying offerings. If you live beyond Bethlehem, follow the star. Bolete is worth the trip.

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Thank TonyDM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 17, 2012

This is truly an outstanding culinary experience. I have gone for full dinner with wine, drinks, apps, dessert, etc and been delighted with everything and gone for a bowl of soup in the tavern and been equally delighted....had brunch...outstanding.

Thank kate040
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 16, 2012

Bolete is absolutely delightful. Every meal I have had here has been delicious and the service and ambience perfectly complement the dining experience. This is not to be missed. You must try the butterscotch pudding!

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Thank naturephoto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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