A romantic dinner means something different to everyone.
For me, it’s pretty simple. It’s a special night out with my wife where we splurge a little for finer food, drinks (she drinks, I drive) and the ambiance of a nice restaurant.
So when it came time for our third anniversary, I was charged with finding a place for a romantic dinner for two.
Fortunately, Berks County has no shortage of restaurants that could be considered “romantic,” and on this occasion, that led us on a short drive south along Route 10 to Emily’s.
The historic building that Emily’s calls home has stood along Morgantown Road for nearly 200 years. At one time, the restaurant served as a local post office, a history that is celebrated in the uniquely appointed Post Office bar room, with PO Boxes lining the shelves and “Mail Pouch Tobacco” scrolled across the far wall.
We were led past several intimate dining rooms, through the bar and out the back door to the creekside porch. Our table was along the rail overlooking the backyard, which doubles as event space for receptions and parties, evidenced by the worn out grass where a tent would generally be set up. A family of bright yellow finches enjoyed their own supper at the four feeders set up along the creek, which was merely a small trail of water as it trickled past the building.
We started our dinner by sharing an order of lamb sausage flatbread. The triangular flatbread pieces were topped with two kinds of cheese (Fontina and Mozzarella), caramelized onions and red currant syrup, garnished with fresh herbs.
The first thing you notice is the chunks of sausage, but the first thing you taste is the red currant. Red currant is a variety of European gooseberry, and when pureed into the syrup, it provides a very sweet flavor. Mix that with the slightly spicy lamb sausage and the mild cheese, and the ingredients combined for one of the best appetizers I have had.
In between the flatbread and our main course we were served our house salads, which were offered with one of four homemade salad dressings, including raspberry vinaigrette. It was thicker than I had expected with a beautiful purple color and just a hint of sweetness to balance out the sour of the vinegar.
Emily’s has more than a dozen entrees and several more pasta options that include everything from chicken and ribs to duck and scallops, but it was the Two Peas in a Pasta that caught my eye.
The namesake peas, spring peas and snow peas, were tossed with fettuccine pasta, prosciutto and leeks in a parmesan sauce. The sauce was thick and creamy like an alfredo, but with a lighter flavor. The prosciutto, which was chopped into tiny pieces, added a little bit of salt. Instead of being served al dente, the peas were cooked soft so that as I twirled my fettuccine, a pea pod would often find its way onto my fork as well. It was heavy and filling, but also very good with excellent flavor.
On the other side of the table, my wife enjoyed Emily’s pork rib cap steak, marinated pork steak topped with chorizo sausage and smoky lime aioli, served with a mixed vegetables and wild rice.
The pork was cooked tender with just a little bit of fat remaining. The heat of the chorizo was tempered by the sweetness of the lime and the rice, which was tossed with walnuts and cranberries, the latter providing a hit of sweetness in almost every bite. With the two meats, it was like eating two entrees at once, both of which were very good.
In true romantic fashion, we decided to share a dessert to end the evening. Even though neither of us were hungry anymore, we couldn’t pass on the chocolate parfait, a tall glass layered with chocolate mousse and brownie. The brownie was crumbled so that you had a little bit of the cake in every bite. It was very rich, but so delicious and satisfying.
With entrees that ranged in price from $15 to $30, our $60 check (which also included a mixed drink for my wife) was on the lower end of a meal for two at Emily’s and worth every penny.
It was a slower weeknight so we sat and enjoyed the cool evening air for a few minutes after our meal. The finches were fighting for space on the feeders as the sun was just beginning to set. As we sat, full and content from our meal, it was the perfect ending to a romantic night out.
And I was already looking forward to our next romantic dinner.