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Chester County Restaurants


percyn
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Thought it would be fun to have a forum where we can post reviews and recommendations for restaurants in the suburbs (Philly has many good restaurants, but us poor suburbanites need to eat too :biggrin: ).

Don't take the Chester County thing too literally. Feel free to post on restaurants in Chester Co, Delaware Co, etc.

Cheers

Percy

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Nectar - Nov 21st, 2004

This relatively new mainline restaurant in Berwyn had got some good press lately, so we decided to try it out.

Went on a Sunday evening, partly to avoid the crowd, as I heard it could get a bit noisy on weekdays, but in reality, it was mainly because I get too busy during the week and cannot enjoy a 2-3hr dinner.

The decor and atmosphere is certainly like Buddakan (not that there is anything wrong with that) and very soothing. We had reservations, but on that Sunday evening, only half the tables looked occupied (it was still early).

We ordered some drinks - Iron horse PN and a mango ginger nectar (which I would recommend). The drinks seemed to be marked up quite a bit, especially the after dinner drinks, where the not so hard to find cognacs and armagnacs were marked up 300%-400%. (I had a much better selection at home, so we skipped the after dinner drinks...but I digress).

We wanted to try some appetizers, so ordered the Bento Box for 2 - a sampling of pot stickers, wild mushroom and duck spring rolls, mini crab cakes and spicy tuna sashimi (marinated in chipotle and soy sauce) .

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It was good and while I did not see anything special in the pot stickers, my wife enjoyed them, so we ordered some more for her, while I decided to try the Steak tartar sushi roll. This roll was quite unique and had a very good texture - almost like tuna, but a bit firmer (and smoother). Did not get a chance to try the other sushi, but they seemed to be quite reasonably priced and I plan to return there again to try some (and the foie gras too).

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For our main courses my wife ordered Bay scallops with bok choy (pic did not turn out well) and I order Wok smoked duck with Chinese eggplant.

The scallops were huge, firm and seared to perfection. The brown sauce it was served with was quite flavorful, yet the scallops stood up to them. This was served with a side of fluffy, light, fried rice.

The duck was great as well. The aroma was superb and the tiny baby Chinese eggplant paired surprisingly well with the stir fried/smoked duck. This was served with a small bowl of white rice.

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For dessert I had read about the mini doughnuts with 3 dipping sauces, which I wanted to try....with some coffee of-course. The doughnuts were fluffy, spongy with a bit of a bite to them. The 3 sauces - Chocolate Chipotle, Creme Anglaise and Apple Caramel were very good, but our only complaint was the excessive amount of sugar which was sprinkled on the doughnuts (seemed like the doughnuts were rolled in sugar).

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Overall, the quality of the food was very good (not excellent), service was good and value was not too bad (with the exception of the drink prices). I will definitely return again to try some of the other dishes and order the steak tartar sushi rolls again.

Cheers

Percy

P.S : I apologize for the poor quality of the images, but I really did not want to use the flash.

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Percy:

Thanks for posting that. I've been wondering about Nectar for some time now. Might be worth a drive to the hinterlands to try. :biggrin:

My favorite places in Chester Co. are Spence Cafe and Avalon in West Chester. The Dilworthtown Inn is always nice for a special occasion. I'm embarrassed to say I've never tried the two best BYO places (according to what I hear), Gilmore's and Birchrunville Store Cafe. I've heard nothing but good things about both these places but haven't had the gumption to just go try them. I guess it's the long drive... :sad:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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The Birchrunville Store Cafe is one of my favorite places anywhere, not just out in the sticks. The food is in a par with any of the happening BYOBs in Center City (yes, even THAT one) and it's a really charming little place. But it is very small, so it's already hard to get into, and hard to find.

Totally worth the trip:

their official website

They've started offering a tasting menu on wednesdays and thursdays, which I've not yet tried. That's a little pricey at $60-70 (although likely worth it), but the prices on the regular menu are pretty reasonable (entrees mid-twenties).

There's no state store nearby, so plan ahead with wine, and bring a few, as the menu changes.

It's not SO long a drive Katie, we'll get you out here some day...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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I have been to Gilmores a couple of times. The hardest challenge with Gilmores if getting the reservation (my wife is finiky about her moods to dine out and don't gel well with long term planning).

Good is quite good, though not extraordinary (I used to work in NYC and got spoiled with the restaurants there). The BYO bit helps and I believe that although it is not publicized, the 8:30pm seating on Wed (or is it Thurs?) gets a free glass of champange.

I will post more on Dilworthtown Inn, Duling-Kurtz, Vicker's Tavern, Fioravanti, etc in subsiquent posts when I get a bit more time.

Birchrunville Store Cafe is next on my list and I may try to make the trek this weekend.

Cheers

P

Edited by percyn (log)
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Birchrunville Store Cafe is next on my list and I may try to make the trek this weekend.

Cheers

P

If they can squeeze you in this weekend, and if it's on the menu, the buffalo filet with black trumpet mushrooms is pretty memorable. But I've rarely been disappointed with anything there.

Please report back, and I look forward to your other thoughts about Dilworthtown, Vickers, et al.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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For what it offers, Inn at 7 Stars in kimberton can't be beaten. It's been around since the dawn of time and has the absolutly best prime rib east of the stockyards. Everytime I go I say tro myslef that I have to try their duck. It looks beautiful and I know it will make me happy. BUT, that beef beckons!

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Took some out-of-town family members to Longwood gardens yesterday and wanted to try the P.F Changs in Glenn Mills (I have been to one in California). However, they said they don't take reservations for parties over 4 :wacko:

So, we ended up at Fioravanti, a small BYO in Downingtown.

Some of us started with a special of pumpkin bisque, while others shared PEI mussels in a ginger curry sauce w/lump crabmeat (which was another special and simply divine) and PEI mussels in a tomato garlic sauce (this is a regular item on the menu). I don't have good pics of the mussels or the bisque, but got some pics of the mushrooms sautéed in port (and Cab, I think) served over polenta and the shredded beef spring rolls.

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As a main course, most people got the steak special - Skirt steak in a chipotle demi glace served over mashed potato and asparagus, which Chef/Owner David Fioravanti was kind enough to let us try while we were waiting for our table and I inquired about the specials. He is a great guy and since the kitchen is in an open setting, he likes to interact with clients.

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I tried the fish special - Blackened catfish with crawfish etouffee, served on rice, with green beans. The fish was perfectly cooked and the etouffee had a nice tangy kick to it, spiced just as I like it. Some felt the chipotle in the skirt steak was too heavy, but I did not feel the heat.

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Wine was a Murphy Goode Fume Blanc Reserve (Chairman’s special), which I picked up on the way to this impromptu dinner.

We were too full for desserts and to be honest, Fioravanti can improve on its desserts, so we decided to go home and eat some of the left over Thanksgiving pies with some coffee (which we never did).

Fioravanti's is a great little bistro style restaurant. It is small (the size of Django), but has great food at good prices and the BYO aspect puts it over the top for value. Don't expect Foie Gras or Caviar here, but the dishes they serve have a hearty, fusion quality to them (if that is possible). Most main courses are between $18-$29 and they have a 3 course pre fixe menu from 5pm - 6:30pm Mon-Thurs for $20. The specials are usually good or you could try the Tandoori glazed (blackened) chicken, Macadamia crusted Mahi-Mahi and don't forget to try the Mussels or Mushrooms on Polenta.

Cheers

Percy

Edited to add : Obviously, I did not make it to Birchrunville Store Cafe this weekend, but I want to try their tasting menu, which they only seem to serve on Wed and Thurs.

Edited by percyn (log)
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The Twin Bays Cafe in Phoenixville has great food and its BYOB makes it even better. Our wine tasting club is having it's christmas party there. They gave us a really unbelievable deal on dinner. If anyone is interested in joining our wine tasting group give me a holler, we'll be glad to have you join us.

Best,

Mike

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  • 3 weeks later...
The Twin Bays Cafe in Phoenixville has great food and its BYOB makes it even better. Our wine tasting club is having it's christmas party there. They gave us a really unbelievable deal on dinner. If anyone is interested in joining our wine tasting group give me a holler, we'll be glad to have you join us.

Best,

Mike

Mike:

Can you tell us a bit more about your Wine Club???

Thanks!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Anybody know of a good place in western Montgomery County? I live in the middle of the Collegeville-Trapp-Schwenksville-Royersford-Limerick-Saratoga-Pottstown area.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Good photos, Percy, although it looks like the ambient light in Nectar was a bit too low.

This topic brought to mind a meal that probably belongs over on that "strangest thing you ever ate" topic in General Food Topics, but since it was eaten in Chester County--and since I hope someone else may have eaten at this place and remembers its name--I'm posting it here.

The place was a restaurant/bar/wannabe dance club on Old Route 1 near Avondale. It looked like two or three sheds stuck together and (I vaguely recall) had a buffalo sign hanging over it.

At the time, the owners were trying to attract a gay clientele, which is why our group heard about it at all (the restaurant advertised in the now-defunct Au Courant). We decided to try it out after visiting Longwood Gardens one December evening.

The place was very simple, but very bright on the inside--plain white walls and lots of windows. Most of the people--including us--were clustered around the bar. It was a mixed crowd, including a few people who appeared not to have gotten word that the place had gone gay.

The woman who served us--I believe she told me that she was the owner--explained that the restaurant was also experimenting with food, too, offering items usually not found on menus anywhere. Like alligator, for instance. Or rattlesnake. The buffalo sign was a way of advertising this, as at the time, buffalo meat was still regarded as somewhat exotic--the herds hadn't been built back up to their present state.

So I decided to order the rattlesnake.

About 15 minutes later, a plate was placed in front of me with what looked like a long, coiled bowel movement on it. This brownish-black object, I was told, was the rattlesnake.

It tasted as good as it looked. I strongly suspect that the restaurant did not last that long in this particular incarnation. Maybe the building is still standing; if so, I'd be curious to find out whether it is still a restaurant, and if so, what's on the menu.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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This is in Montgomery County, Wynnewood in particular, but interesting to suburban diners:

Sang Kee Asian Bistro

I haven't been there yet, but saw a notice at the original Sang Kee tonight. It looks pretty much like the standard Sang Kee menu, transferred to the burbs. Don't know why they decided to call it a bistro. Whatever it's called, I'll be happy to have their noodle soup, or duck, more often without having to drive downtown and fight for parking.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is a great Japanese restaurant on Rte. 3 in Newtown Square called Teikoku:

http://www.teikokurestaurant.com/

It's run by the same people who run the Mikado and Thai Pepper restaurants. The building itself is cool enough to warrant a drink at the bar. Their sushi is fantastic, even better than my previous favorite, Kisso (4th and Race in Philly). It can get a little pricey if you go all-out, but it's perfect for sushi and a beer (or sake, they have a big sake list) before a movie at the nearby theater.

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  • 2 months later...

I've eaten at the Birchrunville Cafe Store twice and got a pretty mixed impression of the place. The first time, the food and service were solid. The second time, the food was decidedly mediocre. The ambiance is decent, and since tables share a wine cooling bucket with the neighbors, there's always a chance you can snag part of a leftover bottle when your neighbors leave. My parents on one occasion there, had a waitress assume that almost $40 was intended as her tip, when in fact the table was expecting her to make change. She didn't bring the money back to the table until they asked for it, 15 minutes later. Highly unprofessional, imho.

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I've eaten at the Birchrunville Cafe Store twice and got a pretty mixed impression of the place....

I'm sorry to hear of your mixed experiences there, I've been really impressed with the food every time I've gone, at least six times since Francis Trzeciak took over in late 1999, and lots more before that when "Gar" Reed was the chef/owner. I've had a range of quality/style of servers, but none have been actually bad.

I can sympathize with the uncomfortable tip situation, I had that happen once in an ethnic place where we had been having trouble communicating throughout the meal. When they just never came back with change from the bill, which would have meant an overly generous tip, we couldn't decide what to do.... we finally chickened-out and just left, deciding that it wasn't worth the very confusing conversation it would have required!

I have to imagine that your parents were the victims of some misunderstanding, a mumbled "do you need change" or something. My experience has been that the service was generally quite good, a little under-confident, if anything. But then again, maybe they got a bad server: if your folks were uncomfortable, that's all that matters.

I've had really good servers do a subtle double-check when we've tipped really heavily, swinging by and telling us that we'd be getting our change in a moment, or even bringing the change back anyway, although we already said we didn't need anything back, allowing us another chance to confirm that we meant to leave what we did.

Every time I've gone to Birchrunville, I've marveled at how good the food is, it always feels like a good value to me, and I like the mood of the place (and I've always gotten my change!) They do a 5 or 6 course tasting menu on wednesdays and thursdays for $60 or $70, which isn't cheap, but it's still tempting....

It's worth noting that this is a cash-only establishment, and there's no bank machine nearby, so plan ahead!

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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I actually applied to be a participating eGullet member last night just so that I could reply about Pace One.

I have eaten there about 15 times in the past 10 years, and it has become "our" restaurant to my husband and me. Pace One has very good food, but I honestly wouldn't make a special trip just for the food. The Mendenhall Inn or the Chadds Ford Inn have more innovative food, I think.

What Pace One has going for it is an unbeatable combo of decent, slightly edgy food and killer ambiance. It is located in an old barn, and has a rambling layout that includes a large but intimate room with a very low wooden ceiling also paneled in wood, a nice bar which generally has a decent raw bar, a porch (or two) that is open year round, along with banquet and meeting facilities. They host many weddings, and there are 3 or 4 guest rooms, so it still operates as an inn on a limited basis. The larger room is our favorite, especially in winter when the porch can be quite chilly.

The service is informal but well trained. Dress is upscale casual (no jackets or ties necessary for men, but a polo shirt would be out of place without a sweater or jacket. Women tend to dress more formally). Entrees generally include a few game dishes, a nice assortment of seafood, along with some lovely cuts of lamb and beef. Sides are always slightly unusual and most entrees feature some sort of sauce or reduction. The menu changes frequently, and there are always a large number of special items available when we visit.

There is a nice wine list, and one can generally find a decent wine in the 15-20 dollar range. Desserts are always competant, but we don't often order them.

This would be a wonderful place to take someone for a celebratory or special meal. The food and place wouldn't overwhelm the occasion (like Le Bec Fin would), but would complement it. I could see proposing here. We generally take out of town family here, and we almost always go here for our anniversary. It feels special, and the food is nice enough to back that up.

One thing to note -- this restaurant is about 3 miles (guessing here) off Route 1, and you will take a winding, hilly road to reach it. We find that the drive somehow increases our anticipation, but I have had friends complain about it. I can see it being a difficult drive in rough weather.

This is my first eGullet post, and I hope it was helpful!

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This is my first eGullet post, and I hope it was helpful!

Welcome! Indeed your review was helpful, that was a very evocative description. One thing: where is Pace One? 3 miles off route 1, but in what general vicinity?

thanks for joining us here, and I hope you'll share more of your insights!

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Sorry about that! Here is a link to their website, which has a map. They are in Thornton, PA, which is near the intersection of routes 202 and route 1. The nearest landmark (at least in my mind) is the Shoppes at Brinton Lake shopping center in Concordville.

http://www.paceone.net/

There is a menu on the site, but I'd just take that as a vague guide since I've never actually seen that exact menu on a visit.

I feel a reservation coming on.

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