It’s not often that I have dinner with international travel writers.
Through my day job, I had a unique opportunity to enjoy dinner at the recently opened Gatsby’s at the Sunnybrook Ballroom. There I joined Dan, a co-worker of mine, and Isabel, an award-winning travel writer from Ireland.
Of course I had to blog about this experience.
The Gulati family, who also operate Stokesay Castle here in Reading, took over the management of the historic property along High Street in Pottstown late last year, renovating the restaurant and turning it into Gatsby’s.
With a 1920s theme, Gatsby’s harkens back to the ballroom’s glory days, when the biggest acts in music began packing the house.
Vintage posters hang on the walls of the hallway, with names like Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey and Duke Ellington all promoting shows at Sunnybrook.
The wait staff are dressed in their best throwback attire, with striped shirts and suspenders for both the guys and gals.
Our waiter tried to push us on Gatsby’s cocktails, crafted by world-renowned mixologist Brian Van Flandern.
He was unsuccessful in persuading any of us, but it did earn him a new nickname from Isabel, Hunter Van Potts.
This was always going to be a three-course meal for me, and it began with some of the best French onion soup that I have tried anywhere.
Gruyere cheese bubbled over the rim of the crock, served atop a wooden serving plate in what was a beautiful presentation. It tasted as good as it looked. The broth had plenty of onion slivers, making it feel light and hearty at the same time.
My soup made me even more excited for the main course, the most exotic item on the menu: wild boar.
I had to wait just an extra minute after it was delivered. On his first day as a waiter (he had been working more than a month as a bartender), Hunter couldn’t tell the difference between my wild boar and Dan’s veal chop. After calling in for backup, it was confirmed that our entrees had been switched.
There was no confusion over Isabel’s 12 oz. New York Strip Steak with au poivre sauce. She raved about it, though she could only finish a little more than half (the rest went home with Dan, supposedly as a treat for his dog, Parker, but I can’t confirm who actually ate it).
The boar was again beautifully presented with garlic mashed potatoes, a bundle of seasonal vegetables and a purple flower for garnish.
Wild boar ribs are leaner than a traditional pork rib and necessitate a knife and fork. It was delicious, tender and cooked to perfection.
It was even better with the peppercorn sauce. Though some bites were a little heavy on the pepper, I thoroughly enjoyed the mild heat of the sauce as it added depth to the game meat.
The sauce came in handy with the potatoes, which were just a little dry, and with the carrots and beans that came bound in an edible tie.
Though not the largest portion on the menu, I would definitely recommend giving the wild boar a try. Especially because it left just enough room for dessert.
Gatsby’s has one of the most unique dessert menus that I have seen. There are three flambés, but after that, everything is crepes.
Two years ago, I reviewed Taste of Crepes in West Reading, the place that kindled my love of the French specialty. Gatsby’s reignited that love with its tiramisu crepe.
Filled with coffee mascarpone and topped with chocolate sauce and cocoa powder, heavenly is the only way to describe it. The crepe was light and airy, and the filling and toppings gave it that distinct tiramisu flavor. I loved it. And even though I was getting full, I had to finish every bite.
Tiramisu, along with strawberry mascarpone and chocolate raspberry, is one of three signature crepes. In addition, the restaurant offers a build-your-own option with 10 fillings and 10 toppings to choose from.
The total for my three courses was about $50, and around $200 for the three of us with tip.
When our meal was over, Isabel cornered Hunter and asked him for more information on the history of the Sunnybrook. He spoke about Pottstown’s heyday and how his grandparents used to spend their Friday nights in the ballroom.
Sunnybrook Ballroom may never be what it once was. But Gatsby’s may help bring the site into a new heyday.
It certainly earned high marks with me.
And it earned high marks from our Irish judge as well.