It's the places you least expect always surprise you about America, writes Steve Zacharanda.

During a tour of the East Coast of America which took in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Charlotte and countless restaurants, BBQ shacks, street food and high end eateries I did not think a night in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to provide the best meal of the trip, even the year.

Carr's restaurant, which is in a historic former department store, is opposite a rather loud looking English pub, you could easily miss its entrance but thankfully we did not.

Founded by Lancaster County native Tim Carr, the restaurant was lauded by locals we had spoken to but couldn't be that good, could it?

We got there late on and the only diners were a group from Hawaii who had booked their table six months before.

The cuisine is described as New American, and as is now thankfully the norm, the ingredients are mostly from within an hour's drive away, much from the Amish farms the county is renowned for.

We had Chris, the head waiter near enough to ourselves, and were guided by his knowledge, which he seemed only to happy to impart.

For starter, if we could handle it as "it was a bit rich if you are having a main course" was the crab, artichoke and spinach dip with toasted crostini and crisp vegetables ($14).

I'm not overly keen on crab, always seems way too much effort and work to get to the good bit. I was in a crab restaurant on Chesapeake Bay once, a sideways glance across the tables it looked like half the ocean floor was discarded on them and the constant cracking of bones went through me like how over-excited Jamaican pensioners in my local pub smashed dominoes on the table wrecking relaxing ska music.

Dudley News:

But as it was a recommendation and the chef had done all the work with the crab I felt safe enough to get involved.

As so often in America, the starter could have passed for a UK entree, the snap of the lightweight crust on top of the dip, which filled a bowl, signaled what was to come like the starting gun in the greatest 100 metres race.

Yes it was rich, but the crab's fine flavour blended beautifully with the spinach and artichoke. It was one of those moments when I had to stop talking and slow down, so I could appreciate every mouthful.

My pal had the fresh friend calamari ($13) which was as delicate as it was delightful, but there was enough crab dip for him to agree that it was one of the best dishes of our American odyssey.

There were casual entrees menu and dinner entrees. The casuals included chicken corn pie, confit of duck leg, meatloaf and meatballs (all under $20) wheres as dinners had filet and crab cake ($32), seared sea scallops ($30), twin crab cakes ($27) and wild mushroom ravoili with white truffle oil ($21).

Chris, who knew Dave Grohl and was an outdoor sculptor during the summer, recommended the delmonico steak with vegetable and potato with red wine sauce ($32).

Well Chris obviously knows his Brummie food reviewer's palette's as well as he did the 1990s SeattLe music scene because it was main course straight out of food heaven.

Dudley News:

The piece of local cow in front of me, was the top of its rib cap, above the prime and cut on site, it was 16oz of meat at its most magnificent.

To have ordered this steak well done would be akin to asking for a lapdancer to twerk in a spacesuit, or to listen to a symphony on a pair of temperamental earphones. The chef's medium to rare game was beyond compare. The dish was was a sublime example of simplicity at its best, the red wine sauce was a compliment not an overpowering annoyance.

The thought of dessert was frankly offensive after the size of starter and main course but then Chris told me the story of the whoopie pie. The chocolate and cream creation was a gift from the god's people, the Amish.

It was invented in Lancaster has become synonymous with the town, almost everywhere serves the dish.

Well, in recent years the tourism bods in Maine have started to claim the whoopie pie as their own, a bit like how Manchester claims to be the second city despite Birmingham being bigger by a third.

So, to give me time to let my food go down (of course), I ordered a Tawny port and carried on quizzing Chris about his hometown and employer. It appears Carr's has an stand in the (must-visit) neighboring Central Market where they sell beef tenderloin and various steaks, pork tenderloin and chops, veal chops, and organic lamb.

Well, affronted by Maine's cheek and well oiled from the fantastic selection, I decided to have a whoopie pie and do a little video about the controversy. 

When the woopie pie came I could tell it was richer than Donald Trump will be after his Government hires his companies to build his wall.

The denseness of the chocolate betrayed a recipe from years gone by but it was not hard to see why this creation has been popular for centuries. I suppose if your religion is based upon not being led into temptation then creating incredible cake is a safe route to happiness.

With a Tawny port in one hand, and a spoonful of whoopie pie in the other, after eating crab dip and steak in industrial quantities, I was worried a postman was going to burst in with a special delivery from my gout begging me to sew my mouth up.

We were the last ones in the restaurant, it was one of those dinner's that I will be daydreaming about for years, but that was not the end of the night.

After locking up, Chris joined us in the English pub and then took us out on the town for a night of laughter in Lancaster, now that is what I call service with a smile.