Mainly known for its dive bars and late night hang outs, Allentown exudes a diverse eccentricity that is unlike any other area in the city.
It was back in August of 2016 that I first learned that a new restaurant would be joining the wide array of establishments in the area. For me, the anticipation grew when I learned that Chef Chris Daigler, Joe Gugino and Chris Baker from Encore were behind the concept Falley Allen.
Opening their doors on St Patrick’s day weekend, the crowds were booming to get in. It should be noted that patrons can choose between two entrances – one for the bar area and one for the dining area. The dual sided bar acts as a large intermediary between the two distinct sides of the establishment. The bar side is a tight space, for a more intimate cosmopolitan feel. The main dining side is a vast wide open space, with plenty of room for everyone to mix, mingle, eat and drink.
The décor featured at Falley Allen is becoming the norm in the restaurant world. It’s an open concept with wooden tables, and Edison bulbs.
The wide open space with the hard surfaces does increase the noise level in the place a bit, but not to where it’s completely unbearable. One of the unique gems is overlooking the host stand when you walk in. Featured is a large wooden circular piece of wall art with the Falley Allen Cow emblazoned. Joe Gugino told me that it was actually not in the design plan. It was a grand opening gift from their table maker Ellen Cunningham. Rob Hopkins’ Falley Allen cow was painted on it, and the rest is history.
In the front of the house I was greeted by Joe, who let us know that our table was just about ready. I told him that I was going to swing by the bar and grab a quick cocktail before I sat down. Working my way through the crowd, to the bar, I saw Chris Baker hard at work. Grabbing his attention, I asked him a few quick questions about the drink menu. He directed me to the Boulevardier – a perfect whiskey cocktail for a cold wintry night.
Chef Chris Daigler, who I have been following around for years (Oliver’s, Encore, Mike A’s) was hard at work in the back doing what he does best – cranking out amazing food that titillates the palate! After making my way back to the table, I finally got a chance to peruse the menu. Right off the bat, I could see that it screamed ‘diversity!’ The cross pollination of all the different flavors and cultures of food represented showcases the talent of the seasoned chef. I couldn’t wait to rattle off dish after dish to our server Kelsey.
The restaurant’s name comes from Lewis Falley Allen, a gentleman-farmer who once owned much of the property in Allentown.
We started with the Baked Pistachio Hummus ($9), Pear & Arugula Salad ($9), Crispy Bao Buns ($9), Poké ($12) Wild Mushroom Flatbread Pizza ($10) & The Devil of an Egg ($5) – a daily preparation of a deviled egg.
The mains followed suit – Chimmichurri Meatballs ($9), Ramen Fried Chicken Fingers ($12), Pork Blade Chop ($18), Wild Mushroom Ravioli ($16) and the Market Fish ($MP) additionally we added the Skillet Mac-N Cheese ($8), and Farro Risotto ($8). Some patrons who see a Market Price item on a menu scoff at the idea of an item that can change in price depending on the day. My eyes immediately focus on it. Why? The most world renowned chefs all deal in the best, local and freshest ingredients at their disposal at all times. This keeps a chef on his or her toes at all times, with complacency reduced to absolute zero! Allowing them the creativity to showcase their talents based on what they can get their hands on. It means the customers are eating the best and freshest the purveyors have to offer. Anyone interested in the ever changing food world needs to check out the series on Netflix titled “Chef’s Table”. My friend Andre turned me onto it and I’ve been hooked ever since. For some of us, food isn’t just what we eat… it’s a way of life!
From the starters, the Crispy Bao Buns, and Wild Mushroom Flatbread are fantastic. The Bao buns come in your choice of short rib or shrimp. We elected for the short rib. They come in a wooden box, emblazoned with the name Falley Allen on the side, allowing each patron to assemble his or her own bun. We ended up with perfectly cooked and tender short rib. I loved the touch of the crispy bun as well, vs the usual steamed bun.
The rustic hand rolled flatbread topped with wild mushrooms, goat cheese and melted leeks was grilled before it was finished in the oven. Being a new restaurant the chefs are still getting to know the oven, as the bottom of the pizza was a bit soft. However, I can assure the you the flavors on top were worth it (try ordering it crispy).
AS for the larger plates, almost all were homeruns. The Pork Blade Chop was juicy tender and bursting with flavor. They were topped with sliced apples, which were sautéed in a caramel apple miso.
The ramen coated chicken fingers are a unique take on a Buffalo staple. I loved the crunchiness of the fingers while still being very moist on the inside. Served with blue cheese, Thai chili sauce and kimchee. For me, the coating of ramen called for a saltier dipping sauce, but that’s just my personal preference.
The meatballs I thought were a miss. They were dry and didn’t have the flavor I was expecting. The farro risotto was also a bit lacking – it was clumpier then I would like for my risotto.
The “Market Fish” was a cod, set in-between two mounds of risotto, made with coconut milk, ginger, onion and miso. The fish was finished with a miso glaze that was out of this world. It didn’t overpower the mild and delicate flavor of the fish. I know the Market Fish will change, but this dish should be on the menu every day! As long as you’re not lactose intolerant another must order is the mac-n-cheese… a classic version of the childhood favorite – radiatori pasta mixed in a rich, creamy and decadent cheese sauce. This would be a top contender for any classic mac-n-cheese recipe. It’s a ‘must try’.
Considering that it was their first night in business, with the combination of St Paddy’s day, the team at FA was rocking! A few tweaks here and there, to dial everything in, and this place will be a ‘must visit’ for anyone who comes to the Queen City. For those who have been patiently awaiting… it was totally worth the wait!
The kitchen serves food 5pm – 1am. The bar stays open until 4am, 7 days a week.