Dutch cuisine meets Pennsylvania Dutch at these top restaurants.
While Dutch influence can be found in Philly, the type of Dutch cuisine that reigns supreme is Pennsylvania Dutch—but although the two share a name, they are quite different. Pennsylvania Dutch dates back almost as far as the city’s founding, while actual Dutch is fairly new to the scene. Here, get a taste of both.
“The Pennsylvania Dutch were farmers from Germany, not Holland, and they were not Amish,” explains MacGregor Mann, who grew up in rural York County and owns the seasonally driven BYOB Junto just outside the Philly limits in Chadds Ford. “They assimilated with the Amish and helped make York, Lancaster and Berks Counties the breadbaskets of early colonial success and growth in Philadelphia.” At Junto, Mann channels the farm-to-table history of his forefathers in an airy bungalow that overlooks an open field. Sometimes, Mann recreates the classic dishes of his childhood faithfully, but more often looks to the recipes for inspiration. “A lot of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is based on ancient techniques so a lot translates to other peasant cuisines. Our corn meal mush is another person’s polenta. Fermented pit cabbages and slaws are similar to kimchi.” Mann works uni into spaetzle; infuses chicken jus with birch bark; bulks up cassoulet with barley; and studs his parsnip cake with candied black walnuts. 100 Ridge Rd., Chadds Ford, PA, 484.574.8041 Also try: Dutch Eating Place is an icon at Reading Terminal Market, the oldest continuously run indoor market in the country. It’s a breakfast-and-lunch counter run by Mennonites and beloved for its hubcap-sized pancakes, crispy scrapple and comforting chicken pot pies. 51 N. 12th St., 215.922.0425
When Joncarl Lachman, a native of Southwest Philly, moved back to Philly from Chicago, he brought with him a deep understanding of Dutch cooking. That’s fromthe-Netherlands Dutch, not the Pennsylvania variety.
Now in Philly, he owns Noord, along with other hotspots. When he relocated back to Philly, people were excited about the city’s first real Dutch restaurant, but very few knew what that culinary canon even looked like. “The pillars of Dutch cuisine are root vegetables and dairy, with the dairy often balanced out with vinegars and beer as acids,” Lachman explains. “The food of the Netherlands is about comfort and sustenance.”
Friendly service and an intimate setting set the tone at Noord, where the walls are lined with art and windows look out on Passyunk’s Singing Fountain. The plates that arrive from the open kitchen include staples like bitterballen, fried pork meatballs scented with nutmeg, smorrebrod crowned with lush house-smoked fish and boterkoek, a Dutch almond butter cake filled with almond custard, for dessert. 1046 Tasker St., 267.909.9704 Also try: Dutch Dessert is a new food truck typically parked by the Benjamin Franklin Parway’s museums. A “mobile European bakery,” they serve Dutch treats like sukerbole (sugar bread), zeeuwse bolen (sticky buns) and the amazingly fun-to-say appleflappen (apple fritters). 484.436.4000
PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH & ACTUAL DUTCH
The charming Pennsport café, The Dutch, is both Pennsylvania Dutch and Dutch-Dutch. The name is a fitting tribute to its owners, one of which is Noord’s Joncarl Lachman. The other is chef Lee Styer (of the fine French restaurant, Fond), who is of Pennsylvania Dutch descent. The breakfast-and-lunch menu here is “a combination of our two cultural backgorunds,” says Lachman. There’s cream chipped beef and Lebanon bologna omelets, but also poufy Dutch baby pancakes and uitsmijer, a traditional openfaed ham-and-egg sandwich. 1527 S. 4th St., 215.755.5600