Many were dismayed to learn late last year that the iconic Depression Era-born Circular Dining Room, Milton Hershey’s signature restaurant, would close as we know it — for good.
Starting today, its newest incarnation — simply, The Circular — will wow you with its history-meets-today redesign (spoiler: It’s still a circle!), an updated you-choose-it menu and cocktails that take you back to where it all began (sort of).
If you’ve done any research on Milton S. Hershey, you’ve learned that he was a true innovator. He believed in reinvention and was not one to sit idly by if a product or concept was failing. It is believed that Hershey would be proud of his crown jewel’s evolution, redesigned to pay homage to its origins while meeting the style and needs of today’s “casual elegance” dining culture.
In its heyday, a dance floor was the centerpiece of the The Circular Dining Room, back when dinner and dancing comprised a night out. That focal point has returned in The Circular, this time in the (circular) shape of an attractive bar-slash-pastry station.
Guests can now enjoy The Circular’s inspired cocktail list at the bar, the addition of which lets guests “choose their experience.” Whether sharing small plates over drinks at the bar, or lingering over a three-course dinner, you choose how — and where — you want to enjoy your time at The Circular.
The Circular’s staff is highly trained, including 20 servers and nine server-mixologists. You’ll find two mixologists behind the bar at all times, preparing drinks from the multi-fold menu, including classic, contemporary and of course – it is Hershey, after all — chocolate cocktails.
Red and white wines are available by the glass, and a selection of draft and bottled beers also are available.
Locally produced craft beers are the focus of the draft selection and include Yuengling Black & Tan, Troegs Pale Ale, Yards IPA, DuClaw Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter (a.k.a. Sweet Baby Jesus), Lancaster Brewing Co. seasonal and Stoudt’s Golden Lager.
Like its predecessor and matching the reputation of other HE&R restaurants, The Circular’s food menu is designed to impress. Its structure focuses on appetizers that double as “small plates” if you and your party prefer to share a variety of tastes, entrees like chicken and fresh fish of the day, and “From the grill” beef and seafood options. A handful of a la cart sides also are available.
We sampled from the baby iceberg wedge salad ($7) and salt roasted heirloom salad ($8), both of which were delicious. I’d choose the beets and asparagus featured in the heirloom salad, but I have a few girlfriends who will not be able to resist the classic wedge salad.
The Mini Lamb Burgers ($12), with grilled onions, havarti, cucumber and yogurt, are outstanding served as a trio.
Hershey classic Cocoa Dusted Maine Scallops return as a starter ($12) and are a must-try. Served with royal trumpet mushrooms, parsnip puree and black garlic.
It’s Hershey, so of course dessert is its own treat. You’d be remiss to ignore the Chocolate Fondue for Two ($12), which featured rum flambéed dark chocolate fondue, with cinnamon marshmallow, caramel cheesecake, berry skewers, rice crispies, candied pineapple and blueberry graham shortbread for dipping. Seriously.
There’s way more where that came from, plus a variety of spirits including port, ice wine, French cognac and more.
At the conclusion of your dining experience – no matter which you choose – you’ll receive a sea salted caramel, a nod to Milton Hershey’s first candy business.
Much of The Circular’s space has been re-purposed to better serve the room. A private wine room is available for reservation, and the chef’s table remains. All of the square and rectangular tables (American-made, by the way), can easily be transitioned to a circular shape to accommodate larger parties.
The Circular serves breakfast daily 7-10 a.m., and lunch from noon to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Dinner service is from 5-9:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 5-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Sunday Brunch seatings are available at noon, 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
For reservations, call (717) 534-8800 or make reservations online with Open Table.