Our last visit to The Governors’ Pub may not have caught them at their best but I can’t say that we ever have. A few years ago, just as the Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks was getting its feet under itself, one of our favorite restaurants in Centre County was at this same location on High Street in Bellefonte. We try not to compare The Governors’ Pub its predecessor, The High Street Pub, but it’s hard not to since they are at the same location and much of the interior/exterior looks that same.
It’s sometimes hard to snag parking along High Street but a drive around the block will usually score us a space without having to resort to the municipal lots. A short walk to The Governors’ Pub on the hillside will reward you this fall with a sight of some huge sunflowers and autumnal flowers growing on the planters in front.
In warm weather it can be nice to grab a seat on the wooden deck. Even the free Wi-Fi reaches out to some of the umbrella protected tables. This is a nice place unless there are irresponsible families with rambunctious children that also choose to dine there. More than once I have noticed that parents will act as though the deck is a playground and obliviously sip their after dinner drinks (coffee/ wine/cocktails) as their kids yell and run loose around the exterior tables.
Another, usually kid free, option is the slick little bar inside, right in the middle of everything. The 6-8 chairs are really a bit tightly placed for eating any more than a light appetizer with your drink and it’s more difficult having a conversation side by side. Thursdays they boast live music.
The rest of the classy-looking interior has a nice hierarchy of spaces. High top tables close to the bar make a cute pub area and a couple separate dining areas break things up around the place. A modern gas fireplace divides two of the rooms and tvs can been seen in the pub area.
The speed of the kitchen, accuracy of the staff and quality of the food just don’t match its pretty wooden interior. Jim estimated that it took us 45 minutes to be served our Greek Salad and Portabella Burger. Neither were anything special and Jim was so hungry that he ate his small sandwich almost in a single bite. Even though the mushroom cap might have been marinated and topped with some mellow caremelized onions, he said the burger was skimpy, mediocre and served on a really dry bun. His coleslaw was nice and creamy.
I could say the same for my salad. The components were presented in a fine way but it wasn’t special by any means. The romaine lettuce was topped with feta cheese cubes, regular sliced black olives, cherry tomatoes, fresh red bell pepper and big slices of red onion with the tart dressing on the side.
One real problem was that we had ordered an appetizer of Spinach and Artichoke Dip that didn’t appear before our meals. When our salad and burger came out I asked about it and they had to put the order in again. The “crustini” was not toasted, grilled nor crusty but cold chewy french bread. The cup of dip was warm, not overly salty but no discernible spinach nor anything to season it like garlic.
I know that every place is running on a limited budget and tends to understaffed but on a Friday night before a home Penn State game, a Bellefonte restaurant should be ready for a few guests. The delay and mistake made me ask why there weren’t more people working and the waitress couldn’t give me a reason but agreed that they could have used a lot more help that evening.
To her credit, before things got busy, our waitress checked on the Swabian Onion Soup and told me it was made with a chicken stock. The only other options seem to be a couple of their Chef Features, Spinach and Tomato with Cheese Ravioli and the La Belle Fonte Pasta, a roasted red pepper cream sauce served over linguini pasta.
I don’t see much changing about The Governors’ Pub anytime in the near future so I probably won’t return for quite a while. They have some vegetarian food on the menu and I don’t see that changing either. The location is fine and building is pretty and clean but the service is spotty and really doesn’t offer much (nothing for vegans). What we were finally served, including the lack luster appetizer, was not bad but it wasn’t anything special to offset the problems. It’s about what a vegetarian would expect; to wander into any place without benefit of reading a review, it’s average.