Local restaurants bring evolution to their menus, welcoming environments to customers

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Taste the Town is a four-part series about local breweries, wineries, distilleries, cafes, restaurants and more, in hopes to bring the community to places they haven’t been to in their own backyard. The following story is the third-part in the series.)

Inviting, casual, warm and intimate are just a few words to describe the environments of the many local restaurants in the greater Williamsport area. Barrel 135, located at 135 W. Third St. in the city and Odd Fellas, located at 101 E. Main St. in Lock Haven, have not only taken the time to ensure their customers feel at home in their restaurants, but they are continuously evolving their plates to provide the best quality of food service.

Joshua Aucker, the owner of Barrel 135, is passionate about the use of local products in their menus and curating an experience for the customers. He has owned the business for eight years, and was working at the business long before owning it himself.

“We change the menu with the seasons, about four to five times a year,” Aucker said. “We try to use as much local product as we can, everything comes in fresh.”

Aucker has helped with Barrel’s evolution to more of a casual American-style restaurant with their popular Sunday brunches.

“That menu also changes pretty often,” he said.

He added that a brunch-favorite is the eggs benedict with traditional smoked pork loin.

“We try to think outside the box and do things differently, more adventurous things,” he said.

They have also made rainbow trout benedict with poached eggs, a toasted English muffin, a hollandaise sauce and finally topped with crushed almonds.

Barrel has a variety of options, especially with the summer freshness of patees, charcuterie boards and more southern-Asian inspired dishes.

From barbeque shrimp, fried chicken and pulled pork sandwiches and burgers, to duck tacos, Taiwanese pork belly boa and a variety of sushi rolls, there is always something for someone at Barrel 135 — even those who want to enjoy a cocktail with their meals.

Aucker said that martinis are a big hit with customers, especially the dirty martini, which is made with blue-cheese stuffed olives and a lemon pepper rim.

Of course, during brunch there are more fruit-inspired drinks like their mimosas and their bubbly melon drink, which has vodka, watermelon puree, shrub and champagne. They also step outside of the box with their menu of coffee cocktails.

They also have a plethora of other fruity cocktails, martinis, draft beers and wines for every day wine and dining.

They are also very active on their Instagram, which is full of pictures of their plates, drinks and atmosphere. You can follow them @barrel135.

Aucker said that the restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating for customers in hopes to keep a “casual and relaxing atmosphere.”

“I believe that people should be able to feel comfortable when they go out to eat, to not feel out of place,” he said.

Jonathan Dale, head chef and general manager of Odd Fellas in Lock Haven, certainly agrees and works alongside the staff to ensure the same goes with their large customer base.

“It is cozy, warm, inviting and intimate (at Odd Fellas),” Dale said. “The walls have reclaimed, exposed wood…and we get a lot of people from Connecticut and New York, travelers and sports teams…we seat whole teams.”

Dale originally came in as a cook and started working with his brother, who had already worked at the business. Together, the two have been trying to build a new menu for customers.

“Making more things from scratch and filling in the holes of what is needed,” Dale said.

He added that during the summer, one Friday a month, Main Street in Lock Haven is closed down and they are able to do table service outdoors, serving everything that is done year round– their fan-favorite burgers, sandwiches and fries and also milkshakes made with Hershey’s ice cream.

Due to supply chain issues, they cannot guarantee a special every month, but the restaurant makes it a point to make sure customer favorites are available.

Some of those favorites include: the inside-out grilled cheese with bacon jam, the Hello Newman burger, the Upstream sandwich, their real chicken tenders and of course, any of their dredged fries.

The Hello Newman burger is packed full of flavor with beef, cheese, egg and bacon, like a breakfast burger.

Odd Fellas has many options for those who have dietary restrictions including black-bean burgers, turkey burgers, chicken sandwiches, salmon sandwiches and gluten-free options.

When in the height of the pandemic, Odd Fellas never stepped down and were only shut down for two days.

“We didn’t miss a beat…our volume increased,” Dale said. “Our online presence has always been ahead of the curve and we have everything set up for online ordering.”

If you’re ever in need of a delicious local meal to take home, Odd Fellas has your back. You can order online on their restaurant website via computer or mobile phone at oddfellasburger.com.


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