Opening to great fanfare on Aug. 3 in a location that housed one of the most popular local restaurants for decades, the First Post on East Market Street in York did a lot of things right.
It’s stunning, but friendly décor catches your eye. The ambiance is suitable for a business dinner, night out with friends, or a romantic evening.
The First Post is named for its location, which at one time may have been one of the first stops upon arriving in York from the east. The former Road House building was purchased more than four years ago, but the new owners did not rush into reopening. Everything had to be just so.
The back of the bar that was built in 1839, and shipped from Pittsburgh for this location and the rest of the bar area was built to match. The scenic balcony could fit in with the motif at a restaurant in the French Quarter, and the walls tastefully feature antiques and art work.
“One of the owners had a strong base in antiques and wanted the original building to not be forgotten about, but continue with the history of it,” said Aaron Cook, one of the restaurant managers.
“There’s not a detail in the restaurant that was not looked at and made sure it was going to fit in and be perfect.”
While atmosphere and comfort prevail, there is one reason above all to visit the First Post: The food, which for lack of a better word, is spectacular.
Chef Dinoissios Karabas, who worked with the First Post owners at the Great American Saloon in Red Lion, uses his experience and creativity to perfection.
“Familiar things with little differences to them to make them a little tastier,” is how Karabas described the menu he helped create. “We didn’t want anything too crazy.”
Yet, there is a “Grilled Octopus” appetizer, served with fava bean puree, caper grape pinenut vinaigrette. It’s a tasty concoction, especially if your bite includes all of the goodies surrounding the meat.
While we enjoyed that, my wife and I went crazy for the “Shrimp Tempura” appetizer, lightly breaded jumbo shrimp with a honey-sriracha mayo and Asian slaw. The presentation is only outdone by the incredible taste.
There are several other appetizers to choose from, and to honor the tradition of the Road House, the First Post “Cream of Crab” soup, while not exactly the same recipe, is still very good.
The menu features a typical variety of meats, seafood and sandwiches, most prepared with a twist.
Per a recommendation I had the salmon, prepared with a brown sugar glaze with sweet corn relish, served over a warm potato crab salad and sautéed spinach. It was out of this world, but I had to ask Karabas, why serve a dish over potato salad?
“It was something I kind of came up with working at the saloon,” he said. “Doing specials I would do a warm potato salad like the German style. I just changed it up, put some crab in it and throw it on salmon.”
My wife had the chicken orecchiette pasta, prepared with oven dried tomatoes, prosciutto, mozzarella and spinach. Tasty that night, this flavorful dish, like many Mediterranean foods, was even better warm-up the next day.
Even the salad had a special flair with the house dressing, a delicious lime-ranch creation that Karabas came up with.
For dessert we shared a chocolate Guinness Stout (yes, that Guinness) cake, which like everything else was fantastic. (You can’t taste the beer).
Speaking of beer, the selection of crafts and bottles is solid. The wine list offers several choices, while deemed “a work in progress” by Cook. There is a full bar, including specialty cocktails, such as the chocolate monkey that my wife greatly enjoyed.
Karabas creates weekly dinner specials and there will be some menu changes when the seasons dictate.
The restaurant now offers lunch, and will eventually use the event space that is under construction on the upper floor. The lunch menu is available until 4 p.m. and includes an extended sandwich menu from a special grilled cheese to a crab cake sandwich. Most of the dinner entrees and appetizers are also available during lunch.
Doing things in stages is part of a take your time and do it right approach of the Kocoronis family, who along with Athena Keares, own several local places. Their patience with the First Post provided a terrific dining experience.
Even on the rainy Wednesday night we spent there, the restaurant was filled with happy customers.
“We say the First Post has something for everyone,” said Cook. “For some people it’s that special occasion and for others they are here three or four nights a week. That was the atmosphere we strived to create."
If you go
Location: The First Post 3691 East Market Street, York, PA 17402
Cuisine: Traditional with an innovative twist
Steve's pick: Dinner: Salmon; Appetizer: Shrimp Tempura
Hours: Lunch is 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dinner is 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. with the bar open later.
Price range: $5.00 for appetizers to $38 for Surf and Turf
Alcohol: Yes, full bar
Accepts: Cash and credit
Kid's menu: No
Details: Call 717-430-8115 or visit https://www.facebook.com/thefirstpostyork/
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