WILLIAMS TOWNSHIP – The Lehigh Valley is earning a reputation as a Bacon Capital.
There’s Pa. Bacon Fest, which is held early November in downtown Easton. And the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have captured the hearts of fans who enjoy both the crispy meat and baseball.
Now comes a restaurant with a theme heavy on pork products: Bacon Gourmet. It opened Tuesday at the former Black Horse Tavern along Route 611 in Williams Township, less than 4 miles south of Easton. Some locals used to call it the Black Horse Inn. The colonial-era landmark, which overlooks the Delaware Canal and the Delaware River beyond that, was more recently known as Stemie’s Place.
Executive chef J.R. Tiger credits restaurant owner Dan Ricca with coming up with the bacon-themed restaurant. “It was his idea,” said Tiger, during an interview Wednesday at the restaurant, “and everything’s better with bacon, man.”
Tiger should know. The 53 year-old, who won a 2016 Food Network’s “Chopped” competition, has lived in South Carolina. “I grew up in the South; pork fat rules,” he said.
The menu features pork, of course, from appetizers such as pork belly kabobs ($11.99) to Tomato Bacon soup ($4.99 a cup) to Bar-B-Que Pork Loan ($21.99). But Tiger, along with his son, sous chef Jordan Tiger, and his “adopted son,” prep chef DeShaun Bower, offer a variety of beef, seafood, poultry and other dishes. And he even promises bacon-themed desserts and cocktails.
Bacon Gourmet, for Tiger, is a homecoming of sorts. His parents, the late Patricia and John R. Tiger Sr., were from the Lehigh Valley. He moved to Easton after working as general manager at the TravelCenters of America off Interstate 81 near Harrisburg.
“The neat thing is I’m back around family,” said Tiger. “I’ve seen cousins and aunts I haven’t seen in years.”
Bacon Gourmet is at 831 S. Delaware Drive (Route 611). Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. More information: bacongourmet.com; 610-900-4389.