Let me start by saying I love the Hotel Bethlehem. I love the nostalgia of the place, and how very very Bethlehem it feels. My husband and I dined at the Tap Room for the first time last evening. We’ve both been to the main dining room and the bar on several occasions previously. All good experiences. We were greeted right away and shown to a table in the window, where we were told “It’s pretty cold over here, the last couple moved because they are from Florida and were too cold” OK, we’re from here, and we like to look out of windows, so we stayed there. She wasn’t kidding, it was cold. Our waiter “Will” ( I’m always suspect that wait staff aren’t using their real names) arrived about 5 minutes later. He was flustered. I asked for a glass of Proseco, and he said the following ” we have Proseco, and we have another Proseco that is champagne. We’re off to a flying start! I informed him that if its champagne, it’s not Proseco, and he said something like “yeah, that’s what I meant” . Against all odds, I finally got a glass of Proseco. He also told us the soup of the day was vegetable soup. I said, the girl who sat us said the soup of the day was beef and vegetable soup. Poor Will, back to the kitchen to check. “yeah, it’s vegetable soup, it has beef” was his answer. Moving on, I ordered the roasted cauliflower soup and roasted beet salad. Mark ordered the vegetable soup-with beef and crab cake sandwich. My soup was sublime, absolutely fabulous despite the fact it had truffle oil in it and I HATE truffles. Garnished with another of my least liked items, KALE!! And yet, it was truly a great soup. Mark’s vegetable whatever beef whatever soup looked fine. The roasted beet salad ( the beets were NOT roasted, they were boiled) would have been lovely, if the chef had the ability to locate salt and pepper. Seriously, this crime of under seasoning (yes, CRIME) should be cause for immediate dismissal from the kitchen. Otherwise, the dressing was good, the presentation was perfect. Mark said the crab cake was delicious. Since we had a little time, we decided to treat ourselves and have the flourless chocolate cake for dessert. We finished out wine, and waited, and waited. And then, we were almost out of time (theater tickets), we called “Will” over to inquire about our cake. “The chef is making it right now, it won’t be much longer” MAKING IT RIGHT NOW???? who does this? We cancelled the cake. On the way out, the hostess asked us how our meal was, I know I should just once say ” It was fine” and go on my way, but I just can’t, I just can’t. So, I mentioned that I thought the chef needed to locate the salt and pepper and this was her reply “We get a lot of old people in here, so that’s probably why he doesn’t use so much” Now, that perfectly fine if you are working in an assisted living facility, but not in a restaurant!! I’ll go back to the Hotel Bethlehem, if I’m invited to a wedding or function there, and I’ll certainly go back to the bar, where I might have that cauliflower soup again, but I’ll skip the Tap Room for dinner. Too many other good options in the Lehigh Valley these days.
As an aside, I’m always asked for restaurant recommendations, and when I am, I ask a lot of questions before giving one, but the one thing I always stress is the SERVICE. Most people don’t realize this is the number one reason people return to a restaurant. If you want to see how service should be done, go to the Apollo Grill here in Bethlehem. Is it the very best food in the Valley, no, but it’s very, very good, and very consistent. AND the service is perfect. Every single person that works there is professional, and knows exactly how to do their job. Such a rare occurence in today’s restaurants.