Hartwood Restaurant, a ‘hidden gem’ in Indiana Township, celebrates 10th anniversary
A best-kept dining secret is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Hartwood Restaurant and Whispers Pub, located at 3400 Harts Run Road in Indiana Township, is touted as a “hidden gem” by owners Kate and Jeff Fenton of Fox Chapel.
“We have customers telling us that they never knew we existed here,” Kate Fenton says. “Most customers become regulars once they have experienced what we have to offer.”
Hartwood and the adjoining Whispers Pub celebrate a decade of serving American and internationally influenced, locally sourced cuisine for lunch and dinner in a refined, but unpretentious, atmosphere.
Initially opened in 1988 as a coffee shop/bookstore, the Fentons expanded on the “restaurant in a bookstore” reference applied by locals.
The couple purchased the building 10 years ago and retained the concept, transforming the historic structure, which originally served as headquarters of Harmar Coal Co., into a full-service restaurant and pub.
“We want our customers to feel welcomed, whether it be a lunch, dinner, drink or event with friends and family. We want them to know we care deeply about their comfort and satisfaction while visiting our establishment,” Fenton said.
The Fentons, originally from Boston, settled in Fox Chapel after living abroad in England and Belgium.
Their daughter was working as a server/bartender at Hartwood Cafe and told them the restaurant was going on the market.
“Our kids were in high school then and it looked like something to keep the creative juices flowing,” said Fenton.
The Fentons say Hartwood “continues to excite each and every day.”
“We lived overseas for many years and learned to appreciate the art of dining out, good food and great atmospheres,” Fenton said. “Whether a guest is eating a hamburger or an Indian-inspired pork tikka in the English-style pub, having a cocktail and appetizer on one of our outdoor patios or enjoying an intimate white table-clothed dinner in our garden room, we strive to make your experience a memorable one each time you come through our doors.”
Dine among books and nooks, antiques and cozy furnishings and feel as though you’re in someone’s private residence.
The white tablecloths tell patrons it’s fancy enough for date night, but Hartwood also welcomes families with a kid’s menu and a more casual dining area option in Whispers Pub.
“Our casual, warm and eclectic atmosphere is perfect for any occasion or event,” Fenton said.
Look for the repurposed Catholic confessional, mounted in a rear dining room, peruse hundreds of books on a variety of topics lining numerous built-ins and admire the original fireplaces and antiques decorating three separate dining rooms.
The signature stained glass window in Whispers Pub is a conversation starter.
Created during the late 1800s by noted Pittsburgh stained glass artist Horace Rudy, the window was procured from the home of a prominent Squirrel Hill resident and features opalescent, stained and fire-painted glass.
Seasonal outdoor dining on a large patio offers a wood-burning fireplace and space heaters to ward off chilly fall temperatures.
Executive chef Jonathan Holzer creates a seasonally changing menu. He previously led kitchens at Longue Vue Club in Penn Hills and DiSalvo’s Station in Latrobe before joining Hartwood eight years ago.
Made-from-scratch items such as breads, pastas, desserts, charcuterie and sauces are a focus at Hartwood.
Check the menu for daily fish specials.
Meats and vegetables are sourced from local businesses such as Goat Rodeo Farm in Allison Park, Jamison Farm in Latrobe and Pittsburgh Pickle Co. in Verona.
Shrimp are shipped live to Hartwood, where they are processed by hand to preserve color, texture and their delicious flavor.
“Everything is made in-house,” Holzer says. “My priority as a chef is using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.”
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.