Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eating Out in Chester: Publick House Tavern and Inn

(Image taken by Dawn Benko from The Daily Record)

If you've driven down Main Street in Chester, there's no doubt you've noticed the Publick House Tavern & Inn. With its old-timey brick exterior, it's probably the most recognizable spot in town. But it's not just appearance that makes this 1810 structure unique. The food is just as special.

"We have the best crab cake in the area," says the general manager, Abraham Ghebreal. "Not to mention the short ribs."

At the Publick House Tavern & Inn, which hopes to have the inn portion of the establishment ready in February, the experience of being there is a treat in itself. Live bands make appearances Wednesdays and Fridays.

And there's another treat unique to the area: "We throw a murder-mystery show once a month," Ghebreal says. "The actors and actresses come and act in front of people, and you have a full-course meal while you eat and watch the show.

"We've been doing that now about four months. It's very successful."

There's a banquet room that can hold up to 120 people — definitely enough space if you're looking to host a big event.

"It's in the back of the building," Ghebreal says. "We have a lot of parties there."

But what would the live music, murder mysteries and banquets be if the Publick House didn't have great food to back it up? Luckily, it does.

"We try to keep the old, traditional menu, but we updated it with an Italian influence," Ghebreal says, "like the pastas, the chicken and the pizzas. We have a lot of pizzas, such as from Naples, Florence and Sorrento."

So, basically, the Publick House has pizzas from all over Italy. That said, it also has a variety of steaks, an Angus burger and fish items, so it really lives up to the standard of being an American restaurant with an Italian influence.

"Our prices are reasonable," Ghebreal says. "And we also have a lot of vegetarian items."

Also on the first floor is the tavern portion of the Publick House, which offers a fully stocked bar.

"It's a full bar, it has all the hard liquors, and we have mostly California wine because I believe in California wine more than anything else," Ghebreal says. "Our wine list is not expensive, so people can come buy it for an affordable price."

In addition to the building, one of the things Ghebreal loves most about working here is the town of Chester: "It's fun, and the way we communicate with the public is nice. People like us here."

WHERE: 111 Main St., Chester
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-6878
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week
CUISINE: American and Italian
LIQUOR: Full bar
PAYMENT: Major credit cards, checks accepted
PRICE RANGE: Appetizers, $9 to $13; salads, $6.95 to $13; pasta, $14.95 to $19.95; dinner, $17.95 to $25.95; children's menu, $8
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: Downtown shoppers are drawn like magnets. Local families, too, include this as one of their regular neighborhood spots for a diverse menu that hits all the high notes. Live music Wednesdays and Fridays
ATMOSPHERE: The Federalist style building went up in 1810 as an overnight inn and tavern for stage coach travelers between New York and Pennsylvania. Three-story house is an excellent place for a casual meal with a friend or a big party with all your co-workers
PARKING: Large lot
MANAGER: Abraham Ghebreal

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