Around Town: White House Diner, Viva Farms and Music on the Menu

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I never knew potato pancakes paired with applesauce was thing.

Maybe I’d never paid attention?

But, I know all things about Northeastern Pennsylvania, don’t I?

I guess not.

Last Friday night, I was introduced to a perfect plate of potato pancakes with applesauce on the side, our appetizer of the evening at the White House Diner in Forty Fort. An unassuming spot, the eatery is well-respected and beloved on the West Side, and is full of traditions.

It was taken over a few years ago by Jeff Piazza, a well-known chef of Gelpiaz and Uptown II fame.

My constant companion Kim Woodrosky and I visited the White House on a Friday for one reason: Jeff’s fine-dining menu, which is only available that one night per week. It’s a special treat for many, as evidenced by the full list of reservations I saw.

When we arrived, the tables were full, so we spent a few minutes at the counter. Normally reserved for eggs and bacon breakfasts and lunchtime favorites, on Friday nights, guests drink wine or beer they bring and munch on fresh bread and appetizers.

We had so much fun chatting with other visitors at the counter that the short wait didn’t bother us a bit.

And since we both have the gift of gab, there was no shortage of conversation.

Things didn’t quiet down once we were seated, though, because we had the pleasure of sitting next to friends Bill and Ruth Corcoran, who said they’re regular Friday-night diners.

What a pleasure.

My meal was a chicken parmigiana with the tastiest red sauce I’ve had in quite a while. Kim’s dish was full of fish: scallops, shrimp and crab meat with garlic sauce atop fettucine.

Both were scrumptious and devoured with little effort. It made Friday night something special.

The same was true when I stopped by Viva Farms on Highway 315 in Plains Township later in the week. The recently opened spot is described as a “gastropub, draft beer haven and cigar bar” on Facebook.

And let me tell you: It’s all that and more.

It’s the ideal spot to watch a game on one of many TVs – or get a good burger, light plate of starters or a tapas dish.

Something special is the ventilation system that clears smoke, so cigar smokers and guests can imbibe without the worry of smelling when they leave.

Also notable was the extensive craft beer menu – a variety of local and national craft beers that’s worth checking out on the digitized screen you see once inside.

While I’m not the biggest craft beer drinker, the Golden Road Wulf Pop Session IPA I ordered paired perfectly with the Raclette Burger – a prime aged patty burger with an onion blend and spinach with steak sauce topped with smoked cheese.

I’ll be back soon.

Since regular readers of this column know I can’t sit still, other stops around town included a visit to US Hydrations in Pittston for the unveiling of its new state-of-the-art $20 million bottling line where I saw old friends Patty Machulsky Sleboda and Prashant Shitut – two Times Leader alums who are always great to see.

Times Leader Marketing Director Renee Sager and I also spent some time live on the The River radio station talking about “Music on the Menu Live” on Tuesday night. Dustin Douglas and the Electric Gentleman took the stage at 7 p.m., rocking out for an hour and telling fans about their latest release. It made our day to tell River listeners why our team is proud to support “Music on the Menu Live” each month.

But, now that it’s Sunday, I’m unwinding from the week and doing something else important: celebrating my birthday (it’s actually tomorrow, June 11). While the location is yet to be determined, I’ll fill you in next week on where the festivities were.

Surely I’ll be celebrating somewhere around town today.

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Mike McGinley is the Times Leader Media Group’s major accounts executive. Reach him at [email protected] or 570-704-3945.

Mike McGinley is the Times Leader Media Group’s major accounts executive. Reach him at [email protected] or 570-704-3945.