If you’re a long-time follower of the blog, you may remember our visit to Willoughby’s Bar & Grill.
It was three years ago that we enjoyed our first dinner at the Wyomissing restaurant. Living nearby, Julie and I had passed by the restaurant on our walks, watching the former T.G.I. Friday’s completely transformed.
When the restaurant closed for renovations in 2015, we couldn’t understand. It had just been completely redone and it didn’t make any sense to us.
Again we watched as construction workers descended on the building, filling and refilling the dumpster outside until the restaurant was once again ready for business.
This time, the transformation was from Willoughby’s Bar & Grill to Willoughby’s on Park, a high-end steakhouse that was going to have to wait for a special occasion for us to visit.
That special occasion finally came this August as Julie and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.
We arrived on a Sunday evening without a reservation, but it was no problem to get in and get a table. The dining room is still very large and with the additional outdoor seating, there was no danger of it filling up. Even on Fridays and Saturdays, the parking lot never seems full enough to equal a full dining room.
The renovated restaurant looks nothing like it did before. Previously, the center of the dining room featured a sports bar lined with flat screens. The TVs are now gone, and the bar is much more stately. The room is dimly lit by chandeliers with votive candles creating a soft glow on the back wall.
Romantically elegant is the best way I can describe it.
As for the menu, it is distinctly a high-end steakhouse, with 10 different steak cuts highlighting the entree selections. Additional choices include seared duck, rack of lamb and six seafood offerings.
There is also a range of salads, appetizers and cold bar options for starters, but we passed on those knowing we would be enjoying dessert at the end of the night.
Instead, we whet our appetite with the complimentary bread and butter – a pair of fresh-baked rolls that were soft, warm and enjoyable.
What else do you need when there’s a 20-ounce dry-aged ribeye on its way to the table?
This is hands-down among the best steaks that I have ever eaten. It was cooked perfectly to my liking (medium well) with just the right amount of pink in the middle. It lost none of the juiciness in cooking and had beautiful char marks on the outside. It was an all-around winner.
Guests can add on one of six “enhancements” to any steak, an assortment of sauces and rubs to suit many tastes. I decided to try the mission fig cabernet reduction and was not disappointed.
It was more jelly than sauce, with the mission fig giving it sweetness and the cabernet adding depth of flavor and strong overtones. With the steak, it played on the sweet and savory while also having a built-in wine pairing to enhance the flavor of the steak.
The steak was so good that it almost made me forget about the sides – a few carrots and a dollop of whipped potatoes. They both served their purpose, but let’s face it, we weren’t there for the sides.
Julie went with the smallest item on the menu, the eight-ounce filet Mignon, with a gorgonzola gratin for her enhancement.
Her steak was also cooked perfectly and would have stood on its own without any additional enhancements, but the gorgonzola gratin gave it a very different flavor profile. It was heavy and rich with the distinct deep flavor that the cheese brings to every dish.
Neither of us really had room left after our steaks, but it was our anniversary so dessert was a must.
Our waitress brought out the dessert tray highlighting a range of offerings that all sounded amazing. We settled on the carrot cake and were not disappointed.
The slice was gigantic and was served with whipped cream, strawberries and a caramel drizzle. Could we get carrot cake anywhere? Yes. Would it have been this good? Maybe. Did we care? Nope. We were just happy to finish off our romantic evening by sharing a lovely dessert.
Going into the evening we knew two things: one, that we were going to have a romantic dinner; two, that it wouldn’t be cheap.
When we visited three years ago, we spent $40. This time, it was more than double that as our total bill was just shy of $100. Willoughby’s on Park is not priced for everyday dining, but it’s not everyday that you get to enjoy a perfectly cooked steak.
With that in mind, I can say with certainty that we will be back. But we’ll save our next visit for another special occasion.
Willoughby’s on Park
305 N. Park Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610