I’m really particular when it comes to red meat, but then I’m spoiled. At home our beef and pork come from a family farm—it’s very good and we know exactly what we’re getting. So when I’m in a restaurant I usually order fish or chicken.
I stepped outside my “usual” zone recently when I met my friend Patty at the American Ale House for dinner in State College. We were in the “stinkin’ hot” days of July, the AC in my car was acting up, and there was no way I was ordering anything that wasn’t cold.
So we started with beer, of course. I can’t remember the name (not now on the website) but it was light and cold and kind of tart and did I say cold? That was followed by the Scottish salmon crudo appetizer (blood oranges, scallions, mache, citrus dressing), something Patty has gotten before at the Ale House (fyi, “crudo” means raw, which I didn’t know). But it was cold.
For an entrée I never even looked at the sandwiches or the Ale House Specialties but instead zeroed in on the large list of salads. Grilled chicken on greens with fries on top? Thai salad (Patty’s choice)? Seared scallop salad? The American Ale House Summer Salad (kale, pomegranate, feta, pine nuts, oranges, cider vinaigrette)? No. All possibilities for another day but just not what I wanted.
I went with the filet mignon salad because of the description: gourmet greens, gorgonzola, roasted pine nuts, red onions, with a red wine vinaigrette. It was the vinaigrette that sold me. I don’t eat much creamy salad dressing anymore—if the greens are good, a vinaigrette dressing allows you taste them. Creamy dressing is just a disguise. I expected the “filet mignon” to be okay but not great. I was wrong—it was very good. Probably some of the best-tasting beef I have ever had in a restaurant. I wouldn’t hesitate to get it again.
Even though it’s not downtown (it’s located in Toftrees), the American Ale House has a lively bar, especially during the school year, and live music. But we were there for an early dinner in the summer so it was pretty quiet. If it hadn’t been so hot, we would have eaten on the patio under the trees. Maybe next time.
Photo from American Ale House website