The last time we took a day trip to idyllic Bucks County, we went to Peddler’s Village. We were eager to return and were thrilled when an opportunity came up to visit historic Doylestown, PA. Located just 27 miles north of Philadelphia, Doylestown is the county seat of Bucks County. It’s very easy to get to and offers so much for local explorers of arts, culture, shopping, and dining, of course. Its quaint, walkable downtown includes independently-owned boutiques, unique specialty shops, markets, cafes, restaurants, bars, a brew pub, museums, parks, bookstores, thrift stores, a record store, and even a movie theater! There’s lots to see and do within a mile and half, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Our day started at the charming Doylestown Inn, a boutique hotel located in the heart of the downtown district at 18 West State Street. It features 11 beautifully-appointed guestrooms and The Hattery Stove & Still, a 2-story restaurant and bar with an “antique industrial” design that offers a modern-American tavern menu seven days a week.
Our stately guestroom was gorgeous! It was large and included many wonderful amenities such as a King Size bed, flatscreen TV, fireplace, jacuzzi tub, and microfridge (in the tv cabinet). Not to mention free high-speed wifi — a must for traveling foodie bloggers! We were impressed by such luxurious accommodations in downtown Doylestown.
The view from the 3rd floor windows in the Inn’s turret was simply glorious, especially on such a perfect, unseasonably warm February day. That building across the street is the historic, resplendent Fountain House, a pre-Revolutionary tavern, which currently houses a Starbucks coffee shop and business offices. Note the shadow of the turret’s circular top on the street below.
Once we were settled into our room, we took a quick rest, then we were off to experience The Doylestown Escape Room which is located right inside of the hotel! These mystery and adventure activities are becoming popular, and this was our first one! Our team of six did the Escape from Area 51 Room. The “mission” was to find a Polaroid camera so we could take pictures of alien crash debris from the Roswell UFO incident and the body of an alien that was captured from the crash scene. We had 1 hour to complete the mission in order to escape the room. The only way to get clues to finding that camera was by solving very hard puzzles. It was not easy at all, but I’m proud to say our group was able to escape the room in almost record time — 41:50 minutes! OMG, so much fun! They make you sign a waiver for these things, but honestly you are too rapt up in the game to even care that you’re “trapped” in a room.
After the game, we retreated to our room to rest a bit before exploring downtown. Old folks like us need lots of rest, plus we loved the room that much. 😉 After proper resting time (about 30 minutes), we casually headed towards East State Street. Our first stop was Nonna’s Italian Coffee Parlor (6 East State Street) for an iced chai for me. Such a cute little coffeeshop/cafe. They also serve what looked to be amazing gelato in flavors like pumpkin cheesecake, pistachio, salted caramel pretzel, and various sorbettos too. I just needed something to drink, but next time I would love to try the gelato or baked goods. The iced chai hit the spot and it was reasonably priced (around $3).
As music lovers, we were excited to check out Siren Records (25 East State Street). They have a huge selection of reasonably priced new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs, and merchandise. We spent about an hour in there; purchased quite a few records and a t-shirt, too. Even if you are on a foodie adventure, we highly recommend checking out Siren Records while in town.
At that point, we were ready to head back to our room at the Inn and freshen up before dinner at The Hattery Stove & Still. This was basically our belated Valentine’s Day dinner since I was sick on Valentine’s Day. I was very eager to enjoy a cocktail, glass of wine, and fine meal; and from the looks of the place, I knew we were in for a treat. The restaurant is very “antique chic” with a speakeasy vibe. No wonder – it did serve as a speakeasy during Prohibition after all!
Upon being seated downstairs, we were greeted by our friendly server Ryan. He poured some water for us and gave us a thorough run-down of that evening’s menu specials. He took our drink order and gave us some time to look over the dinner menu. I ordered the Hattery Highball – a delightful and wonderfully potent cocktail consisting of crisp ginger beer, Bourbon, and lemon twist. Somewhat of a mule but with yummy Bourbon. Just what I needed! Hubby opted for a glass of non-local Pinot Noir. I would have liked to see more local vineyards on the wine menu, but it was a good wine nevertheless.
I don’t like cocktails at all. Nope. LOL
For starters, we ordered two appetizers: Mac N Cheese Balls (from that evening’s special menu) and Roasted Oysters. The mac n cheese balls came out first.
These balls were insanely delicious by themselves, however we felt the star of the plate was the superbly sweet & tangy tomato gastrique that was on the bottom of the plate. In fact, they probably should have smothered the balls in that lusciously tart liquid! We could have drank it. Hubby was so smitten with it, he’s now determined to recreate this at home. We’ll see! 🙂
Those scrumptious fried balls and heavenly gastrique were an amazing start and a hard act to follow, but if anything could do it, Roasted Oysters would be the thing. We are big fans of oysters, whether raw on the half-shall or prepared such as these. The decadent Roasted Oysters at The Hattery did not disappoint; they were actually quite large and were as sinfully delicious as they look. How does oysters topped with pancetta, caramelized onions, fennel, anisette, a blend of three cheeses and bread crumbs grab ya? A worthy indulgence to be certain.
For my main course, I chose the Grilled Korean BBQ Salmon with fingerling potatoes and grilled asparagus. The salmon was expertly grilled on the outside and was a perfectly flaky pink-medium on the inside. The Korean BBQ sauce was not very spicy; in fact it was more of a nice balance of savory umami and sweet. The fingerlings and asparagus were a nice compliment to the salmon. The potatoes were crisp on the outside, tender on the inside. The asparagus added a nice fresh brightness to the dish. I was very pleased with my selection; the whole plate was very satisfying flavor and portion-wise. I also enjoyed a glass of Chapoutier, Bila-Haut Dry Rosé with my entree. I think it went well with the salmon.
Hubby decided to go with the Surf & Turf on that evening’s special menu which included a beautifully petite medium-rare filet mignon, buttery lobster tail, velvety smooth Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, and blanched green beans. How can you go wrong with that? They nailed it, of course. Nothing more to say! You’ll just have to try it. 😉
While we were both incredibly stuffed by this point, I had to order dessert. Everything sounded amazing, but the Bread Pudding with caramel sauce and copious amounts of whipped cream was calling my name. A perfectly sweet ending to an amazing meal. The Hattery Stove & Still is a casual, yet refined restaurant serving satisfyingly straight-up American cuisine. We were more than pleased with everything from ambiance, service, flavor, and decor. While there are many restaurants to choose from downtown, we highly recommend checking out this restaurant in Doylestown. They also serve lunch during the week and brunch on the weekends! Looks like it would be an awesome spot for Happy Hour – they’ve got some great drink and appetizer specials during the week 4:30-6:30PM.
Our evening was not over yet, but we took the elevator right from the lower dining room up to our room (talk about convenient!) to take a brief post-meal siesta before our nighttime destination — Doylestown Brewing Company’s downtown brew pub. We met with some friends upstairs at “The Still” (above the Hops Bar & Grill). It was like going from one speakeasy to another. Not only do they serve their own awesome beers, but offer a variety of classic and specialty cocktails and wines by the glass (even some from nearby Buckingham Valley Vineyard). We were in the mood for beer drinking at this point.
We tried the following brews:
- R5 Lager – Crafted from an original Pennsylvania recipe that dates back to the 1800’s, but with today’s twist. ABV 4.5%.
- Alley Amber Lager – A rich caramel flavor is supplemented with the classic Cascade hops. ABV 4.8%.
- Blue & Gold Kölsch – A light-hued slightly hoppy Pislner. ABV 4.5%.
- DBC Pale Ale – A more relaxed version of IPA, this pale ale is a mix of Columbus and Nugget hops that are heavily dosed to bring out the juicy flavors. ABV 5.5%.
All were very good, but I’d have to say the Amber Lager was probably my favorite.
What a fun day in Doylestown! Such great food and drink at The Hattery Stove & Still followed by all-too-easy-to-drink beers at Doylestown Brewing Company. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend day to take it in the sights and sounds of an amazing little downtown in Bucks County. I ended the evening by firing up the fireplace in our cozy room and enjoying a long, relaxing whirlpool bath. Ahhh, the hard life of a couple of foodies! 😉
We woke up the next day and enjoyed the complementary Continental breakfast (bagel & jam for him; just coffee for me) before checking out. We couldn’t have been more pleased with our visit. I wanted to tell them how nice it was; a truly delightful experience from start to finish. Doylestown is a great foodie town; worth a travel from the city. You could take the Doylestown Regional Rail for the day, but we wholeheartedly believe it warrants an overnight stay at The Doylestown Inn. You must have dinner and drinks at The Hattery Still & Stove and then try brunch at one of the other restaurants in town the next day (Maxwell’s on Main, Genevieve’s Kitchen, Pag’s Pub, etc.) We enjoyed our time so very much; it really felt like a mini vacation!
After we checked out of the hotel, we explored a bit more of downtown Doylestown including the Doylestown Food Coop (29 West State Street). This store reminded me quite a bit of Mariposa Coop in West Philly and Green Aisle Grocery.
The Doylestown Food Market carries a very large variety of local products from in and around Bucks County and Eastern PA. We grabbed some Irish-style bangers from Stryker Farms in Saylorsburg. We could have dropped a pretty penny in there on a variety of fresh meats and local products, but we still had some places to go and a ride back home. Sadly, we did not think to bring an insulated cooler bag with us. So heed this traveling foodie pro tip: always take an insulated cooler bag with you! I’m kicking myself I didn’t think of it sooner.
Before we left downtown, and onto our lunch plans at Quinoa Peruvian-Mexican restaurant (more on that in a future post), we stopped by McCaffrey’s Simply Fresh Market upon recommendation by our local friends. This reminded me of a smaller Whole Foods with lots of produce, delicatessen, butcher, bakery, large selection of prepared foods, cheese department, and grocery section. We picked up a bunch of non-perishable items like sauces, pastes, snacks, etc. We love helping the local economy when we are on these foodie day trips!
We walked away from our trip to Doylestown very impressed and convinced that it is a foodie destination in Bucks County. Certainly worth a trip from anywhere in the Philadelphia area. We’re looking forward to returning one day and exploring some more.
Disclaimer: We were invited by Peter Breslow Consulting and The Doylestown Inn to visit The Hattery Stove & Still and take part in the The Doylestown Escape Room. We are so thankful for their generous hospitality during our visit. Regardless, our opinions are ours and unbiased.
The Doyenne of Dining in Philadelphia and South Jersey.