Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Highway 80 Revisited

Powerhouse Eatery exteriorBack in a former life as a rowing coach, I and a couple of athletes would haul our racing shells from NYC to Lewisburg, PA for regattas against Bucknell University every spring. Along the way we would pass a re-tooled power plant overlooking I-80 in White Haven, Pennsylvania: the Powerhouse Eatery. We swore one day we'd stop in for what we fantasized must surely be huge slabs of beef wheeled out on rickety carts to rough hewn tables and benches. Itineraries never permitted the leisure of discovering what feasting awaited within and eventually our dreams faded. A few years ago, one of those same rowers took a job at Bucknell as assistant coach and this past weekend former teammates and friends descended on his place for a surprise bachelor party. As we zipped along the highway the sight of the old plant stirred forgotten longings. This time we would not be denied.
 
Powerhouse eatery interiors
 
Well the weekend was a success from beginning to end. The groom's fiancée managed to keep our secret and the guy was caught totally off guard when we kidnapped him for a round of golf, horse shoes and a fierce BBQ afterwards. Steaks, baked potatoes, even a vegetable were washed down with plenty of beer pong. The shenanigans went late into the night. A little bleary-eyed the next morning we walked into town for breakfast (lots of stomach-lining grease and hot  black coffee) before packing up for the drive home. Our copilot kept his eyes peeled for the brick smokestack that announced our interim destination.
 
Powerhouse Eatery interiors
 
Originally, the coal-powered plant served the nearby White Haven Sanatorium, a late 19th century tuberculosis institute. Antibiotics and immunization eventually took their toll on the place and the power plant sat idle for many years until 1989 when it was gutted and converted into a restaurant. Much of the machinery was retained however, making the atmosphere unique. The decor and menu were a lot more refined than what we were expecting. But when portions started coming out of the kitchen, nobody seemed to mind.
 
It was a Man weekend, so everyone in our party ordered burgers from the "small" plate menu. They were huge, perfectly grilled and delicious. Even the buns were out of the ordinary. Fresh, moist, multigrain rolls with the beef patty formed to fit the oblong bread. They were surely ground sirloin sandwiches. Nothing that moist and flavorful could be anything less. A gigantic mound of fries came with each order. Tugger, one of our crew, had to finish my burger for me.
 
The rest of the menu features dressed up version of classic pub fare: calamari fritti, French onion soup, jumbo shrimp cocktail for starters; Caesar and seafood salads; lots of chicken and beef entrées, delicious soups and tempting desserts. Now that we know about the place, it won't be just an interesting landmark we pass to and from Lewisburg. It will be a regular stop.
 
The Powerhouse Eatery is is located right off exit 273 on Interstate 80 in White Haven, PA.
They are open for dinner Monday through Saturday at 4:00pm. They open for lunch at noon on Sundays.
 
 
Welcome to the open road - Blog O. Food
 
 

1 comment:

markscaddeville said...

In the '60's and '70's, we would travel to my grandparents in Bloomsburg, from Toms River, NJ, every other weekend. When I-80 came through Northeastern PA around 1970, we had a new faster route to the farm. Instead of driving east on rte. 37 and rte. 70toward North Philly to pick up 309 to Hazelton and 93 to Berwick to 11to Bloom., we would drive northeast toward Trenton and on up to the Delaware Water Gap and take I-80 from there to Bloomsburg. The trip was shaved from 4 hrs. to 3 1/2. But it was so cool, sitting in the third seat with my sister and driving past the "smokestack". We knew that we only had less than an hour to arrive at the farm! This past August, my partner and I delivered an Art Deco bedroom suite to Whoopi Goldberg in North Jersey. (We had been conservators of this suite for the past 11 years when Whoopi found it on our website.) From Jersey we took I-80 and as we approached White Haven, we decided that it was time to visit "The Powerhouse Eatery". We too enjoyed the ambiance and what a menu! We've made a pact that whenever we visit PA from TX, on a customer business trip, we will dine at "The Powerhouse Eatery"