There’s something truly unique and special being offered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in suburban Wyomissing, PA. Past the entrance and lobby, deep inside of the hotel’s enormous commercial kitchen are The Chef’s Table and The Pastry Studio, two remarkable private dining spaces which can be reserved for small groups of up to 8 people for an exclusive gourmet tasting and an opportunity to get up close and personal with chefs as they prepare your meal live in front of you. We were honored to accept an invitation to partake in these intimate dining experiences in what was once my old stomping grounds. I lived just 2 miles away from this hotel from 1992 to 2002.
The Chef’s Table at Crowne Plaza Reading, PA
The concept of The Chef’s Table came about in 2015 when the property was looking to differentiate themselves from the competition. The hotel was built in 1974 and while it had undergone multi-million dollar renovations in 2010, there were new hotels consistently popping up in the area, so they wanted to do something that set them apart from the others. The culinary team, known for some of the best fine dining in the region, wanted to create a space to further highlight what they were doing inside the kitchen at the Crowne Plaza.
Located in the heart of the hotel, they transformed a space inside of the kitchen that was once was a Pizza Hut Express and later used as a storage space for banquet items – into the Chef’s Table. The space can seat up to 8 guests and offers a cozy room surrounded by the kitchen. With two of the walls being glass, it offers diners the ability to truly not only see behind the scenes in one of the leading hotel/conference centers in the market, but also allows them to watch their meal be prepared for them “live” with a cooking station that faces them on the other side of the glass.
What makes this space even more unique is the impact it has had on the parent company. Owned/managed by Meyer Jabara Hotels, their hotel portfolio includes a number of brands including Hilton, Marriott, IHG and various boutique hotels. Following the success of the Crowne Plaza’s Chef Table concept, Meyer Jabara Hotels implemented a company-wide standard, regardless of brand, for all of their full-service hotels to create a Chef Table at their hotel. While the location of these tables may not always be in the kitchen, and the look of the room may not match the Crowne’s – these dining experiences have now become a part of the Meyer Jabara culture.
A feature of the Chef’s Table room that should not go unnoticed is the pallet wall. This wall was handmade by two gentlemen from the Hope Rescue Mission in Reading, PA. As a means of saying thanks for the support they received at a hard time in their life, they built by hand the pallet wall that sits in this room. It’s a stunning feature in the room.
On the wall hangs an oversized knife, fork, and spoon. On the handle of each utensil are the names of 3 different local non-profits the hotel has a heart connection to – Olivet Boys and Girls Club, Animal Rescue League, and Prospectus Berco. Underneath those, there are smaller utensils hung which hotel guests and Chef Table diners can
sponsor. All money from sponsoring these engraved utensils go directly to one of those charities of the guest’s choosing.
Executive Chef Noly Capitle is in charge of the Chef’s Table Menu. Prior to accepting a job offer at the Crowne Plaza’s, he had spent many years as a head chef on cruise ships, sailing around the world, providing fine dining to cruise patrons. He’s been at the Crowne Plaza for approximately 3 years now. We were thrilled to try his menu!
First Course – Basket Salad
Fresh greens dressed in a crispy Parmesan bowl with tomato, cucumber, carrots, and rutabaga drizzled with a honey-basil vinaigrette. The dressing was exceptional and added great flavor to this light, crisp salad. I loved the addition of the julienne rutabaga which added a nice crunch to the salad.
Second Course – Pan Seared Halibut
Seared with a white wine butter sauce and tomato
concasse then served over wild rice and a steamed asparagus bundle. The delicate fish was cooked perfectly as it flaked easily with a fork and was moist on the inside. The butter sauce and tomatoes added depth of flavor without overpowering the supple fish. Wild rice pilaf was the perfect bed for the tender fish allowing it to shine.
Third Course – Seared Chicken
Pan-seared chicken over linguini paired with crispy pancetta and basil cream sauce. The chicken was expertly prepared, slightly crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside. The crispy pancetta offered a nice smoky flavor and crunch to go along with the luxurious cream sauce. Very good flavor combination. The pasta was perfectly al dente and toothsome. Just all around yum!
Fourth Course – Center Cut Tenderloin
This dish was the pièce de résistance of our savory repast. Filet mignon, grilled and finished with a mushroom, brandy, peppercorn demi accompanied with a green bean bundle and frizzled onions on top. How bad could that be?
The steaks were cooked perfectly pink (medium to rare) which is precisely how we love our steaks. So juicy, delectable and well-seasoned, Chef Noly knows how to cook an exceptional steak! We could haven’t asked for a better meal. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Chef’s Table, getting to know Chef Noly, and learning about this fabulous offering within the Crowne Plaza in Reading, PA. We were taken care of so very well. Our server Troy deserves special praise for keeping our wine glasses full, too. We were treated to fine red and white wines that were paired especially for our tasting.
After such an outstanding meal and many glasses of wine, we were not done! We were whisked off to The Pastry Studio, yet another hidden gem within this hotel.
The Pastry Studio at Crowne Plaza Reading, PA
Following the success of the Chef’s Table, the Crowne decided to take it to the next level by introducing yet another new concept – The Pastry Studio. Headed by Chef Chris Polk this space offers a unique dining experience for those with a sweet tooth.
The studio is a unique space that is also located in the heart of the hotel (the kitchen) adjacent to the Chef’s Table. This space combines a workspace for Chef Chris and a seating area for guests. Guests can participate in interactive experiences such as a wine and chocolate pairing or a pastry class.
Chris has a very diverse background that helps him to create his desserts. He teaches pre-engineering and culinary arts at a local high school. He recently created a new multi-course program at his school that teaches students basic culinary practices as well as advanced techniques.
His dessert creations are works of art and he loves to use his creativity to incorporate personal touches into the desserts and displays; it is clear from talking to him and seeing him work that he has a passion for pastries! Everything he made for us demonstrated great finesse and skill. He cares about how everything looks and tastes, right down to a mini spoon made out of chocolate! All of the
confections he made and presented played well together flavor-wise. His attention to detail was especially evident in how he plated everything. We do feast with our eyes first, after all. After such an amazing savory dinner, this was the perfect sweet ending.
The Chef’s Table and The Pastry Studio are truly special places within The Crowne Plaza Reading, PA. I highly recommend calling the hotel to book both or either of these experiences so you can see and taste some very fine dining in a unique, private space. In fact, this would make for an outstanding holiday gift for the foodie in your life. It was such a pleasure to meet both Chef Noly and Chef Chris and watch these masters at work. It is an experience we won’t soon forget!
The Crowne Plaza Reading PA is located at 1741 Papermill Road in Wyomissing, PA. The hotel is very nice inside with a large lobby complete with a fireplace and sitting area. There is also a nightclub and lounge inside called Goodnites. I used to attend many happy hours and go out dancing here when I lived in the area. The hotel accommodated us with an overnight stay. Our room was very comfy and provided a fantastic view of the city of Reading! We had a truly
Call (610) 376-3811 or visit the website to learn more!
The Doyenne of Dining in Philadelphia and South Jersey.