"I really don't use recipes, but instead base my cooking on a feel for the dish," says Ben Sutter, who for the last nine years has served as the executive chef of the Poconos’ Settlers Inn. Sutter’s innovative menus are constantly evolving and are shaped by the seasons, farms, pastures, and producers of the region.
Located in Hawley, Pennsylvania, an artistic enclave in the Lake Region of the Pocono Mountains, Settlers Inn is a meticulously restored arts and crafts lodge boasting native chestnut wood beams, hand-screened wallpaper, crafted tiles, and Mission-style furnishings. Over the years the Settlers Inn has become a destination for a romantic dinner or for celebrating a special occasion.
The Dining Room and Chestnut Tavern at Settlers Inn offer a warm ambiance combined with caring service and food that caters to the senses. The mellow sounds of a baby grand piano grace the intimate dining room as a very skilled staff attends to your every need.
The sommelier has selected an impressive wine list and maintains a cellar of interesting and fine wines. Craft brews from both local and national breweries are featured on the extensive beer menu. A dinner menu consisting of an “Earth, Wind and Fire” theme (they threw in “Water” for good measure) offers a diverse array of options.
Asian shrimp dumplings with translucent wrappers and a delicate touch of smoothly blended shrimp set the stage for a very enjoyable evening of fine dining. A Lehigh Valley summer corn and purple potato chowder showcases a multitude of textures and is artfully presented in a small skillet. A locally inspired appetizer, Blooming Grove smoked trout with a velvety horseradish crème sauce and capers, offers a fresh and zesty appeal.
Entrees include pan seared diver scallops with corn puree and feta compote and golden quinoa. The succulent scallops are the size of golf balls, yet tender enough to cut with a fork. A delectable grilled petite filet mignon with heirloom tomato chimichurri, ajo blanco potatoes, and farmer vegetables will please everyone’s palates.
A decadent dessert ends the night on a wonderful note. Using a recipe that was brought over from England 30 years ago, Chef Sutter creates an English toffee pudding with warm caramel sauce and homemade whipped cream. It is deliciously rich.
“Our philosophy at Settlers Inn has basically been the same for the last 30 years, which is to use the best and most local ingredients we can find in our region,” Sutter added. “Personally I like high contrasts in my flavors, and love when a dish can touch as many of the savory, sweet, bitter, spicy categories as possible without being overwhelming. I have a bit of sweet tooth and it shows in my cooking. I also love rich meats and braises.”
Sutter also is the Executive Chef for Settlers Hospitality Group, a growing group of independent restaurants.