Allentown PA: The Glasbern Inn is a Farm to Table Stand-Out

A chef at the Glasbern Inn in Allentown PA picks food for that night's dinner in their greenhouses.
A chef at the Glasbern Inn in Allentown PA picks the food for that night’s dinner in their greenhouses.

The Glasbern Inn Prospers in Pennsylvania Dutch Country

By Richard Frisbie

The Glasbern Inn in Allentown, Pennsylvania is all farm-to-table, and an authentically delicious dining and lodging choice.

Glasbern Pub.
The Inn’s cozy pub.

For example, their PBLT is the Glasbern Inn’s take on a BLT. Instead of bacon they use cured & smoked Pork Belly from Glasbern’s own hogs.

The surprise was a runny, soft-fried egg, the yolk almost red from their free-range chickens, moistening the sandwich, and competing with the lemon mayo (I almost said hollandaise) for my attention.

The thick slices of challah bread barely contained this intense rush of flavor and texture. Later, to Jason’s delight, I referred to it as an Eggs Benedict sandwich.

The Glasbern Inn, outside of Allentown, PA.

On the cusp of mud season, we trudged through pigsties, cow barns, chicken coops, and greenhouses checking out the whole farm-to-plate thing at the Inn and farm.

“More than twenty-five years ago Glasbern was an abandoned farm, with the buildings collapsed or in disrepair, and the fields overgrown.

Look at it now. We raise Scottish Highland cattle, Katahdin sheep, Berkshire pigs, chickens, and laying hens. The organically-grown year-round greenhouses provide all our salad greens, vegetables and herbs.”

Mastering French Cooking

Highland Cattle

Allentown is close enough to Manhattan to enjoy the culture but rural enough to be a great place to raise children, surrounded by friends and family.

Turning the Farm Around

The view out over the ponds, streams, and fields was bucolic; this was an old Pennsylvania Dutch farm, after all. It wasn’t old farm landscaping, though. When the Grangers purchased the abandoned farm and began turning it into a B&B, they put careful thought into planting gardens, windbreaks, and screens.

Now, nearly thirty years later, mature weeping specimens of pine, spruce and larch dominated the corners and pocket gardens. They were underplanted with equally exotic dwarf evergreens, shrubs, and perennials.

Carefully Laid Stone Walls

Rows of spruce blocked the view of all three parking lots, their borders defined with carefully laid stone walls. The grounds are certainly impressive. I was sorry to be there before the green of summer showed off the landscape’s true potential.

Just past the herb garden cascading down the hill from where the chickens basked in the sun, we reached the Corporate Center. It was another stone and wood building that could have been a repurposed original farm structure but probably was not. It was ingenious how all the buildings looked as if they’d grown there.

This one had a full bar/reception area, a fireplaced meeting area, and an executive board room, plus another full kitchen. One wall of French doors faced a flat-as-a-croquet-court lawn that could be tented for summer events.

“We can comfortably seat up to 150 people here depending on the shape of the tables.” my guide pointed across another pond to an arbored, stone-lined nook in the hillside. “I can’t tell you how many marriage proposals were made there. It’s a favorite spot for couples.”

“Glass Barn”

Delicacies just kept on coming out of Jason’s kitchen.

We moved from there to the pub for some coffee with Glasbern’s owner, Al Granger. The name means ‘glass barn’. He told me his wife christened the property that because of the many large windows in the sun-filled main barn.

Today, the haymow of that barn, a soaring three-story exposed-beam space, is the dramatic setting for their incredible restaurant, the front desk, and several guest rooms.

“Glasbern is a renovated 19th-century farm, with the farm buildings converted into upscale accommodations. Our restaurant and a number of guest rooms are here in the original barn, with towering fieldstone walls, 28-foot timbered ceiling, and 150-year-old posts and ladders.”

We also have rooms in the Carriage House and a few self-contained cottages. Each of our 38 rooms has a queen or kingsized bed, a jacuzzi tub big enough for a couple, flat-screen TV, full wifi, modern showers, and a fireplace.”

The Carriage House

One of the sumptuous rooms in the Glasbern Inn’s Carriage House.

I’d been through the rooms already, so I knew how grand they were. Several of them were on two levels, connected by a spiral staircase. My room upstairs in the Carriage House had a four-poster so high I needed stairs to climb into bed!

There was also a closet with a refrigerator containing complimentary beverages, and a few things I didn’t need: an iron, ironing board, and hairdryer. All the comforts of a home away from home!

I excused myself to go enjoy some of those comforts. After a good night’s sleep on linens so soft they felt like at least a 600 thread count, and the pampered softness of the Turkish towels after my bubble-bath, I was brushed and combed and ready for breakfast.

There was a groaning board of food available. From cereals and fruits to scones and local preserves, all the food was either from the farm itself or locally sourced. I could have filled up right there, but my hostess informed me that I could also order from the breakfast menu.

Dutch Country Scrapple

I was torn between the eggs Benedict and the scrapple and pancakes; I love eggs Benedict, but when would I get real Dutch Country scrapple again? My dilemma was solved when my eggs Benedict was served with a side of scrapple. What could be better than challah toast, farm-fresh free-range eggs, bacon and a rare pork regional specialty made from Glasbern’s own pigs? I was in heaven!

I changed my mind about Glasbern. More than any of those things I said before: organic farm, corporate retreat, Bed & Breakfast, restaurant, hotel, or couple’s get-a-way, Glasbern Inn is a Dining Destination; a foodie’s Mecca in the beautiful Dutch country of Pennsylvania.

Glasbern Inn
2141 Pack House Road, Fogelsville, PA 18051

Richard Frisbie
Richard Frisbie is a regular contributor to many online publications. He owns the Hope Farm bookstore and press in Saugerties, NY and writes about food and travel around the world.

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