In the deep, rolling hills out past Bellefonte and Zion, there is a Centre County gem known for an evolving menu, a legit beer selection, award-winning wings and an owner who is as delightful and charismatic as they come: The Hublersburg Inn.
The Hubi, as it is affectionately called, is constantly getting into new and exciting things, and is hosting a Saint Patrick’s Day extravaganza Saturday, featuring a special menu and live music by The Broken Spokes.
“They’re very entertaining,” said Bette Tothe, who is the manager at the Hublersburg Inn and handles booking and promoting the music. “They have a lot of good energy. Solid musicians, and they have a nice relationship, so just the dynamic back and forth ... it’s pleasant. It’s fun for everyone, it’s not too loud or rocky for anyone. Not too twangy. It has that soul vibe.”
Along with the Broken Spokes, innovative new(ish) chef Cody Pierce is planning a special menu, in the spirit of the already evolving, locally inspired, fresh menu items offered on a regular basis. On St. Patrick’s Day there will be an array of Irish offerings, including 11 Irish specialty drinks and eight food choices. The food includes but is not limited to a Reuben Egg Roll, Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad, Irish Bangers and Mash, Cottage Pie and a Paddy’s Parfait.
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“We’re really just farm to table,” Pierce said. “I just like cooking fresh product, as fresh as possible, and translating that to the customer. You can tell the difference in the food. As far as creating the entrees, it’s about what I would want to eat. I cook things that I would want to eat. Things that excite me.”
Pierce perhaps oversimplifies his approach, because he’s classically trained and has been — as Jerry Garcia sang while gigging with John Kahn — all around this world, and has also worked stints as the head chef at the Centre Hills Country Club.
“I’m classically trained in French cuisine,” Pierce said. “So, I take my classic French cuisine knowledge and I read a lot of magazines and books, keep up with culinary trends and I take those trends and those ideas that I read, then I take my other knowledge and I combine the two together.”
Pierce brings his worldy sense to the Hubi, having grown up in Potter County, lived in south New Jersey and traveled to Europe upwards of 40 times with his uncle.
“(My uncle) was a world traveler,” Pierce said, “and that’s what really opened up my eyes to food. When I was a little Potter County boy I would eat frozen corn and hot dogs, then I ended up traveling the country, traveling the world, eating all this different food that opened my eyes up to different cultures.”
As worldy as Pierce is, he brings the rural essence of Potter County to his approach as well, and that includes working with and supporting local businesses, which is also something owner Andi Heidt has been doing for years when it comes to the music at the Hubi.
“We like to find local people who are starting out,” Heidt said. “It’s hard for people to get the foot in the door and sometimes people need a little bit of a break.”
More specifically, The St. Patrick’s Day event is part of the Hubi’s ongoing music initiative, which is all about local musicians and the Hubi’s engaging ambiance. It features a wide-open dining room with plenty of space for a band, and nothing less than the best deck in Centre County, out in the beautiful Bellefonte area country-side, complete with deck chairs, a fire pit and even a bowl if you bring your dog.
“Once a month we try to do something featuring live, local musicians inside here to draw the space as a music venue,” Tothe said. “We don’t have a stage, we don’t have a PA (system) here, but just so people can get used to expecting to see that we might offer a show at last semi-regularly.”
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.