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Bites Nearby: The Cafe

East meets West in a culinary symphony at this West Bethlehem dining landmark

What happens when the spicy and exotic flavors of Thai cooking collide with the refinement of French haute cuisine in a sumptuously decorated 19th century mansion in Bethlehem?

If you want to find out, The Cafe should be at the top of your list of restaurants to visit.

Established in 1980 by Patti and Adisak Sakdiponephong as a French pastry shop on Bethlehem's west side, The Cafe has evolved into an eclectic eating establishment, to be sure.

The French Second Empire mansion which houses the restaurant retains a home-like feel, and the intimacy of its dining rooms is one of the reasons many diners find themselves coming back again and again. Outstanding service by highly trained, knowledgeable waitstaff is another.

Of course, it's the food that has really attracted The Cafe's loyal and enthusiastic following.

Its Thai luncheon specialties include dishes such as traditional red or green Thai curry with choice of chicken, seafood or tofu/vegetable; mango salad prepared with fresh mango, shrimp, chicken, peanuts and sweet chili dressing; and of course, the ever-popular Pad Thai, a staple rice noodle dish made with tamarind and topped with crushed peanuts.

French-inspired dinnertime classics served at The Cafe include filet mignon with bearnaise sauce; breaded Veal Cognac, stuffed with ham and Gruyere cheese; medallions of pork served with a Dijon mustard sauce; and rack of lamb served "continental" with mustard sauce.

Other dishes served at dinner reflect the Thai side of the kitchen, and include Thai Basil Stir Fry with choice of shrimp or pork over rice; Grilled Lemongrass Chicken served with Thai coleslaw and white rice; and tilapia with chuu chee curry sauce over soba noodles.

Whether you stop in for lunch or dinner, you'll want to save room for dessert, since The Cafe features an extensive menu of sinfully rich, made-from-scratch cakes, tortes and specialty confections. A full bar is also available and outdoor dining is available during the warmer months.

For music lovers, The Cafe features live jazz once a month. "JaZZzz at The Cafe" is an event that helps support local musicians such as guitarist Bill Washer, who will perform March 25. Reservations are highly recommended for these performances, as seating is limited.

The Cafe is open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner and Saturday for dinner only. To make a reservation, call 610-866-1686. For more information about the restaurant, visit its website.

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