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Chester County Restaurants


percyn
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Has anyone been to the new Firehouse BBQ place (particularly Holly?) that recently opened up behind the WalMart in Kennett Square? Apparently they are a small company that also has a location in Elkton, MD. I was wondering if it's any good because a casual, more economic alternative to frequent visits to Talula's Table down the road would be appreciated.

Made a quick stop at Firehouse BBQ for a small sample. Tried the ribs and the brisket, jalapeno cornbread, fried mac and cheese, and coleslaw.

The Ribs had a bold smokiness, but oddly didn't taste like much else, except for what came from an unpleasant sugary glaze. We figured one of the many sauces provided on the table might help, but all of those, even the ones marked spicy, were extremely sweet. And not spicy. And not that good. The meat was very tender, but pulled completely off the bone upon the first bite, and had receded pretty far up each bone, each a sure sign of being cooked too long. They were also pretty tiny, but as they're sold by the pound, I suppose that's OK.

The Brisket was moist and tender, but as with the ribs, just didn't taste like much. We got one nice slice, and one strange mass of shredded edges. To be fair, it is early days, and pretty much the whole staff seemed very young, so maybe they're just not quite in the groove yet, both with the cooking and the cutting.

Fried Mac and Cheese was quite tasty, 2-inch cubes of their regular mac and cheese, breaded and fried to order, resulting in a crispy crust and oozing, cheesey center. Coleslaw was OK. Cornbread was on the dry side, but had a pleasant-enough flavor.

So I can't say we were thrilled by the Firehouse, but it might be worth letting them settle-in a little before passing final judgement.

From our past few visits to Firehouse, it seems that things have improved immensely there in terms of consistency thanks to a new chef and manager (Gus) they brought in. The ribs, seasoned chicken, baked beans, and sweet cornbread have been very impressive and keep us coming back every few weeks (yikes!).

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  • 4 weeks later...

The odd influx of Upstate NY regional specialties continues, with the imminent opening of The Spiedie Bistro in Phoenixville.

They'll be serving the Binghamton, NY delicacy (basically a shish kebab on a bun) along with some more health-food-ish stuff.

So at last, we can all stop those frequent drives up to Binghamton for a spiedie fix.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Grew up with speidies made by an uncle from Endicott, NY, and if this Phoenixville operation hopes to get it right, they'll serve it on a slice of Battaglini's bread from Endicott. That is the true, old school spiedie sandwich.

I cannot WAIT to visit this new place, though.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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The contact address is in Conklin, NY, just down the road from Binghamton (and Endicott) so they should at least know how it's done. Now, whether they can execute it away from the source remains to be seen. It might be like making a cheesesteak out of state: not impossible, but tricky!

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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  • 1 month later...

Has anyone been to The Bookend Cafe? It's on the outskirts of Phoenixville on Rt. 23. I have heard that their sandwiches are quite good, but that comes from an unreliable source.

I can recommend Wasko's on 1st & Gay Streets. They specialize in roast pork and do they do it right!

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Haven't been to the Bookend Café yet, but might need to now: the Vale Rio Diner was trucked-off the other day.

going...

gallery_23992_3894_24800.jpg

gone...

gallery_23992_3894_15733.jpg

It may not have been the greatest diner ever, but they made a few things well, and it's always nice to have a place to grab a bite at 3am.

The saddest part is that a Walgreens is supposedly taking over that spot, apparently because the other 345 pharmacies within about 5 miles are not meeting the demand. And a Starbuck's will go into the bar next door. As if the traffic at that corner isn't crazy enough already...

ugh.

On the upside, this morning I saw smoke billowing up from Barto Pools, which, unless the building is burning down, means Tex's Barbecue is there for the weekend!

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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I can recommend Wasko's on 1st & Gay Streets.  They specialize in roast pork and do they do it right!

Hey Fitzy, thanks for this tip. I checked out Wasko's today, and indeed they do the roast pork sandwich right! Delicious, herby, tender roast pork, with a bit of juice, sharp provolone, a good roll, made for a really tasty sandwich. There's not a whole lot on the menu, maybe 5 or 6 hot sandwiches, a few cold "zeps" but hey, if they're all as good as the roast pork, I'm fine with that.

Interestingly, they also have a board with the entire menu from Marchiano's in Roxborough. Apparently with two days notice, you can get any of their stuffed breads, tomato pie, etc.

Yet more reasons to never leave Phoenixville...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Had dinner at St. Peters. Roasted Eggplant soup with crab cake. Dinner was Roast Duck, to perfection, with fig sauce. It had a side of Brussel Sprouts and Parsnips. Yum! These dishes just rocked!

I had a butter cake with persimmon sorbet and raspberry sauce with some fresh red berries and whipped cream. Really good.

Beverage was Victory Brewing Co. Hop Devil cask conditioned. Served old style like they would a pint of Guinness. It was incredible.

Awesome dinner. They open the patio April 18. Dinner and dancing to jazz trios and quartets start in May.

Thank God we have broken winter's back and spring is on the way!

Edited by handmc (log)

**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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I stopped by Wasko's for the pork sandwich and it was indeed pretty good. It was a step above the Eagles Nest Deli on the other side of the river. I asked the guy behind the counter about how the Marchino's breads sell out in the 'burbs. He said he can't get people to order them. He said he's tried giving out samples and everything but they haven't caught on. People out there betta rekanize.

I've found that most of the sandwiches in the area (Wasko's, Eagles Nest, Satchmo's) are solid, fufilling sandwiches, but they all have exactly the same type roll. I'm not sure if they're all from the same bakery but they sure seem like it. And it's not a bad roll, it's always been fresh from all three places, but it doesn't bring an otherwise good sandwich to the what-I-can-get-in-Philly level. The only place I've come across that comes close to a good South Philly roll is the Italian Market in Skippack. If all these places starting using the same roll as the Italian Market, then the overall sandwich bar of this particular area of the suburbs would be substantially raised.

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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Tim, I agree with you about the rolls, in general they're a little undistinguished out here, which is to say indistinguishable... A better roll would make the Wasko sandwiches really killer.

The same thing holds true at Spiedie Bistro: I checked them out the other day, and my spiedie was pretty decent, but the roll was boring. Not bad, just the same old Italian roll. The meat was tasty, although I had the benefit of getting it right off the grill. They apologized for the wait, saying that their steamtable had broken, but I think I'd rather get one hot off the grill anyway.

Although I enjoyed it, I was reminded that spiedies are really not all that exotic, it's just cubes of meat marinated with something very much like basic Italian dressing. Grilled tangy meat in a roll? Nothing wrong with that, but nothing mind-blowing either.

I tried the "President Scroob" which I have to assume is a misspelled reference to the Mel Brooks character in the movie Spaceballs. I believe this is the first time I've eaten anything named after any characters in Spaceballs. It effectively had the ingredients of a Greek salad sprinkled on top, and I think that combo worked well. There are other topping combos with similarly bizarre names, and I would assume one could just ask for one or two of the elements "a la carte."

There's a salad menu that's WAY too complicated, with various charges for adding in different categories of ingredients. I predict that this pricing structure will go away soon, I got dizzy even thinking about it.

Another thing I think they have to jettison ASAP is the somewhat odd positioning of the place as a local, organic, healthy food outlet. They only have juices and teas and vitamin waters, no sodas, apples for dessert, etc. They do have small bags of chips, and mention cookies for dessert also, although I didn't see any. Using good, healthy ingredients is to be admired, and I suppose the grilled-meat basis of a spiedie makes it relatively low-fat compared to something deep-fried or griddled in oil, but I just don't think the appeal of the spiedie is going to be the health angle.

The website touts: "Spiedie Bistro is an inexpensive, high quality, fast casual restaurant serving local and organic, never frozen foods" but when i asked for a pork spiedie, I was told the pork was still frozen, I'd need to choose chicken or beef. Maybe they just haven't worked-out their sourcing yet.

Personally, I think they should just get over it. They should use the best ingredients possible, but that's not going to be the draw. Make a really tasty sandwich. And put in a soda machine. And maybe find some more interesting bread.

Still, my sandwich was tasty, I'll go back.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Anyone try the indian restuarant Himalaya down at rte 401 and rte 30? I have driven by but it has always been in the early am.

**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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I haven't been to Himalaya, but speaking of Indian restaurants, there's a new place in the same plaza with Han Dynasty, on rt 100 in Exton, just a little north of rt 30. It's right next to a little Indian Grocery, I'm not sure if they're related in any way.

It's called Indian-Malay Kitchen, and it's just barely open, there's a lot of equipment that's not hooked-up yet, empty cases, etc. But it seems like it will be a basic counter-service, inexpensive, informal quick place, with lots of breads, pastries, snacks. etc.

The menu's pretty limited right now, but the woman at the counter said they planned on adding a lot onto it soon. I saw a menu laying around with a fairly extensive array of Malaysian food, which got me really excited, but when I asked about that, I was told that they weren't serving that anymore, and weren't sure if they would... bummer...

What they DID have was a small selection of curries, some Indo-Chinese dishes, a few breads, iddly, and dosas. I'm a sucker for a dosa so I got a Mysore Masala Dosa to go. It wasn't all that spicy, but it was very good, served with an excellent coconut chutney and some very tasty dal.

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Devi is right around the corner, and I think I like their Dosa a little bit better, but this place seems pretty quick and convenient, especially for takeout, i suspect I'll be hitting this spot for a quick bite pretty frequently. I'm especially looking forward to when they have the hot bread thing up and going. Stay tuned....

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Anyone try the indian restuarant Himalaya down at rte 401 and rte 30? I have driven by but it has always been in the early am.

Yes, I have been there a few times over the years. It's not as good as Taste of India in the Gateway shopping center in Wayne, but a good substitute. It has been there or at least 6-7 years, if not longer, making it one of the older Indian restaurants in the area (which I guess is a testament to customer loyalty).

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  • 2 weeks later...

i had a double-whammy good food day today!

i had lunch at l'elephant. i was with a bunch of thai food neophytes, so we did a nice sampling of curries and standard thai fare. the food was outstanding and the service was delightful. it was my birthday, so they brought out a huge tray of fruit (there were 7 of us total), which consisted of honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon balls with grapes. in the middle was a big flower carved out of watermelon, which they put a candle in., it was pretty cool! wish i had a camera.

for dinner, we went to cosimo in malvern. i wish i knew why that place isn't doing better. the wine bar is fun, getting to try flights of different wines. everything about the dinner was terrific. the bread was baked on the premises ... a crusty french bread, a rosemary and calamata olive bread and a tuscan cornbread, with sundried tomatoes and basil. all served with olive oil and a spice blend that was a mix of chinese five spice powder and jerk seasoning.

for dinner, hubby had the conch chowder (manhattan style) and i had herbed gnocchi with oyster shrooms, pecorino cheese and english peas. for dinner, hubby had the smoked salmon over a shrimp risotto and i had the pork loin served with a sweet potato and bacon hash. delicious.

they're famous for desserts, so hubby had their custard trio, which consisted of a caramel creme brulee, sour cherry cheesecake and a cookie. i had the nut trio ... walnut coffee cake, hazelnut gelato and a warm cashew-caramel tart.

it's a nice spot, very tastefully decorated with a great waitstaff. they're a little on the expensive side, but not awful. maybe we can stir a little buzz.

http://www.cosimorestaurant.com/

"The perfect lover is one who turns into pizza at 4am."

Charles Pierce

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A few weeks ago the wife and I went to Liki (sushi and Hibachi place) in Phoenixville and ordered some sushi and bento box for lunch. It all looked and tasted good until we got home and didn't feel too well. I am willing to chalk that up to a rare occurance, but it did not leave the best first impression for me.

Last week we went to Spiedie Bistro that Philadining posted about upthread. Unfortunately this place is anything but speedy. Service was friendly, but it took over 20 minutes to get a salad and a sandwich. The grilled meat tasted good but prices seemed expensive for the size of the portions. I wish them the best but given the awkward location, price point and long wait time, I am afraid the prognosis does not look very rosy.

On the upside, the dosa hut in Eagleville near Norristown (I know its in MontCo) is cranking out good cheap Indian eats.

Edited by percyn (log)
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Some of the best ribs I've had in years have been at the Station Bistro in Kimberton, courtesy of Craig Miller's skill with his smoker and his knack for really good barbecue sauces. Craig and wife Nancy e-mailed me to say that they would be starting All-You-Can-Eat Ribs on Mondays, starting April 21. $20.95 per person, which is the price of a full rack of ribs there. Definitely worth the 90 minute drive from my house!

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Some of the best ribs I've had in years have been at the Station Bistro in Kimberton, courtesy of Craig Miller's skill with his smoker and his knack for really good barbecue sauces.  Craig and wife Nancy e-mailed me to say that they would be starting All-You-Can-Eat Ribs on Mondays, starting April 21.  $20.95 per person, which is the price of a full rack of ribs there.  Definitely worth the 90 minute drive from  my house!

If they serve ribs on weekends, it might be worth the 15 minute drive from mine :biggrin:

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Another quick snack from Indo Malay Kitchen in Exton:

gallery_23992_3894_17650.jpg

That's a "Tandoori Chicken Plait" which is to say, an airy, slightly sweet bread, with chicken and cheese on it. It's in a case just at room temp, but if you eat there they'll heat it up for you, or you can just pop it in an over for a couple minutes to warm it up a little. I thought it was really tasty, and the airy texture of the bread was very enjoyable.

I also tried a curry chicken puff:

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Very light, flaky puff pastry, but the filling was a little dry. Probably would have been good with something to dip it in.

There are several such stuffed/topped breads available, lots of dessert cakes and pastries, some chaat, dosas, and a few basic Indian dishes. No trace of anything Malay. There actually may be more food available, but they never seem to actually have any menus when I'm there, they say they're coming.

But even if I'm just guessing at what things are, I'm already liking this place for a simple lunch or snack. I don't think it's super serious food, but very enjoyable for a quick bite.

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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...

There are several such stuffed/topped breads available, lots of dessert cakes and pastries, some chaat, dosas, and a few basic Indian dishes. No trace of anything Malay.  There actually may be more food available, but they never seem to actually have any menus when I'm there, they say they're coming. 

But even if I'm just guessing at what things are, I'm already liking this place for a simple lunch or snack. I don't think it's super serious food, but very enjoyable for a quick bite.

While I have not personally been there yet, the description of the place's setup and its partial menu reminds me of the Ratan Tata Institute (RTI), a literal food institute in India which serves Anglo Indian dishes. Wonder if the owners are trying to model RTI.

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during my weekend errands today saw two things of note for the area:

Cupcakes Gourmet, Rt 30 Frazer- tiny place, hard to see coming west, as it is in a small shopping center and the sign just has a cupcake on it. I tried some mini cupcakes (vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, mocha) and wanted to gobble them all down at once. Yum!

That Italian Place- Bridge Street Phoenixville- looks like this place is going where Scioli's Antiques was, near the Columbia. Says it's to be an Italian market and also brick oven pizzaria- can't wait!

<a href='http://retroroadmap.com' target='_blank'>Retro Roadmap - All the Retro, Vintage and Cool Old places worth visiting!</a>

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during my weekend errands today saw two things of note for the area:

Cupcakes Gourmet, Rt 30 Frazer- tiny place, hard to see coming west, as it is in a small shopping center and the sign just has a cupcake on it. I tried some mini cupcakes (vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, mocha) and wanted to gobble them all down at once. Yum!

I will echo the praise of Cupcakes Goumet. They have 2 sizes: mini ($1.50) and regular ($3.00). I had a couple of the minis and they were insanely good. One was a dark chocolate cake with white chocolate frosting covered w/ a ganache. Another was a chipotle chocolate. I typically don't like white chocolate because it is too sweet for me, but the dark chocolate cake provided a nice balance. The chipotle had a nice flavor that wasn't overpowering.

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I stopped into Cupcakes Gourmet today (can't resist a good cupcake!). I bought a dozen minis and brought them into work. I got to try the red velvet, the vanilla and the chai latte ones. Very tasty! I got good reports back on the other kinds (chipotle chocolate, lemon, peanut butter, dark chocolate vanilla) as well.

They have a website (http://www.cupcakesgourmet.com/). They're in the Nobb Hill shopping center, which is helpful to know when you're trying to find them. It's on the right hand side of Rt 30 going east after 352 and before the Lincoln Court Shopping Center.

"The perfect lover is one who turns into pizza at 4am."

Charles Pierce

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