Site Update

As you have probably noticed, this site hasn’t been updated in quite some time (as explained in End of an Era). But, there are some tidbits I wanted to pass along to readers, since our archives still do generate some traffic:

  • I am still active on Twitter, posting food and drink news, opinions and links. If you don’t follow me already, click through and do so to stay in touch.
  • I manage a wine blog called PA Vine Co.; we focus on helping consumers discover high quality dry wines made in the commonwealth.
  • PA Vine Co also runs Pennsylvania Wine Drinkers, a Facebook group for anyone who likes wine in PA. Join us for value picks from the PLCB, local wineries, and more.
  • I contribute regularly to other food and drink publications. The best way to stay on top of these articles is to either follow the social media accounts mentioned above or to check out my writing website Life at Table.

In the meantime, the archives of Main Line Dine are still accessible for you to peruse and enjoy.

End of an Era…

mlrg-2004

The year was 2003. Though blogs existed, the term was hardly a household word. Citysearch ruled for local restaurant information.

One day, I drove past a new restaurant that had just opened. I made mental note of the name and looked it up online when I got home. Nothing. Nada. Not even one reference to the place on the entire internet. Though Citysearch did a decent job covering Philly back then, one would be lucky to find an address for a restaurant in the ‘burbs. The Philly papers hardly ever mentioned the suburban restaurant scene.

My frustration sparked an idea. I was eating out at least 2 or 3 times a week, and often trying new restaurants as soon as they opened, so why not share those experiences with the world? I started writing reviews, and once I had a few, the Main Line Restaurant Guide was born. I didn’t even get a unique URL – just put it on a subdomain of a music site I was running at the time – because I didn’t expect much to happen with it.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one frustrated with the lack of information about Main Line restaurants online. The site was an immediate success. Traffic poured in from Google with people eager for content about the happenings in their neighborhood. (This was years, remember, before “hyper-local” was a trend, and sites like Patch existed.) Though the site was simple and text-only, it offered content that filled a void. People posted their own reviews of local restaurants with astounding regularity. (Early on, I was receiving these comments via email and manually posting them to the website – unthinkable today!) Eventually, as it continued to expand, the name was changed to Main Line Dine, a bonafide URL was purchased, and we attempted to join the growing “food p0rn” movement with some mouthwatering photography.

Though at one point Main Line Dine was ahead of its time, the simple logistics of a one-man operation – I was lucky to have a few other great contributors through the years, but none stuck around for too long – made it difficult to keep up with the likes of AOL’s Patch, Yelp, and other sites now cranking out restaurant news. (Apparently Citysearch still exists too!) Along the way, another thing happened. I grew older, started a family, and stopped going out to eat as much. These days, once a month seems like an indulgence.

Although family and work obligations are part of the reason for this change in behavior, there’s one other more important factor: restaurants aren’t what excites me about the local food scene anymore. It’s not that there aren’t great restaurants out there doing great things – it’s just that they seem to be fewer and further between these days. And, if you’ve ever attempted to sustain a business that doesn’t make very much (any) money, you know that excitement and passion are tantamount to success.

For that reason, I’ve decided to stop supporting Main Line Dine. Frankly, it’s a decision that should have been made years ago, but I’d felt obligated to nurture this being that I’d created, and had trouble letting go.

Don’t despair friends, for as they say, when one door closes, well you know the rest. I still am passionate about local food and sharing that with you, the readers, commenters, fellow food lovers. And, there’s this groundswell of small, artisanal food producers that’s been slowly growing over the past few years that does excite the heck out of me. Farmers Markets seem to be popping up in every town, and they’re not just for farmers anymore. You’ll find bakers, coffee roasters, meat curers, hummus makers, and other food of all sorts, all made with love, in small batches, and with local ingredients. In my humble opinion, this is where the exciting, innovative stuff is happening in the local food scene, and what I want to talk about, read about, write about.

So while it is the end of the road for Main Line Dine, I am still around. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram where I will continue to comment on the local, national and international food scenes and share my magazine articles and other writing. And please check out the wine blog I co-founded, Pennsylvania Vine Company, which focuses on PA wines.

I will simply leave you with this: Eternal thanks to all the great readers, commenters, likers, etc. that have supported this site over the years.

Citron and Rose, Merion

citron-and-rose-sholet

I don’t get it. This was my first thought when I heard about Citron and Rose, the new Michael Solomonov project in Merion. Sure, I was also excited to hear that Mike Solo was coming to the ‘burbs. I loved Marigold Kitchen. I love Zahav. My mouth waters when thinking about finally trying Federal Donuts. But a restaurant that’s not open on Friday or Saturday night? On the Main Line, where we’re famous for only supporting a single seating, even on weekends? It just seems silly.

Of course, I’m neither Jewish, nor do I know much about the Orthodox Jewish community. I suppose it is relatively large in the Merion area, but this is still the suburbs. It’s one thing for a little ethnic restaurant to open in a densely populated urban neighborhood that happens to be predominantly that ethnicity, but here we’re talking about high-end dining, in a non-urban setting.

The other thing about that little ethnic restaurant is that it doesn’t exclude anyone. Technically, the same is true at Citron and Rose – one doesn’t have to be Kosher to eat there – but, most non-Kosher people I know prefer to go out to a fancy, expensive meal on a weekend night. Not everyone of course, but especially suburbanites who work normal 9-5, Monday-Friday jobs. Do we ever go out during the week? Sure, but even then it’s more likely to be somewhere casual, comfortable, quick and probably somewhat cheap.

Continue reading Citron and Rose, Merion

Bella Oliva Olive Oil Shop Coming to Wayne

olive oil shop wayne pa

An olive oil and vinegar shop called Bella Oliva is coming soon to downtown Wayne, next to Gryphon Café. Though details have yet to emerge, one would imagine a similar concept to A Taste of Olive in both West Chester and Ardmore.

Interestingly, though WC and Ardmore both also feature a Carlino’s, there really isn’t a good place in between to get a decent bottle of EVOO or aged balsamico, so this should be a nice addition to the scene. Hopefully they’ll be strict about their oil provenance, as EVOO fraud is rampant in Europe.

Speaking of which, if you’re interested in Olive Oil, or food in general, I highly recommend checking out Tom Mueller’s book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil. It’s a fascinating history of “liquid gold” and account of the modern day problems facing the industry. Would make a great foodie gift!

Continue reading Bella Oliva Olive Oil Shop Coming to Wayne

Lunchtime Love: Dixie Picnic & Shoo Mama’s

shoo-mamas-farm-fresh-cafe-west-chester
Amy’s Mama at Shoo Mama’s (img via website)

Looking for a break from the lunch routine? Though neither place is exactly new to the scene, two independent businesses are serving fresh, interesting and casual fare. First, Dixie Picnic in Malvern (in the shopping center with Giant). Started as a restaurant on the Jersey Shore town of Ocean City, this location opened a few years ago. The menu features a wide variety of sandwiches, many of which are available in Bette’s Box Lunch, which comes with a side salad, a deviled egg, and an “upcake”, the Dixie Picnic version of a cupcake (in which all surface area is covered with frosting).

Continue reading Lunchtime Love: Dixie Picnic & Shoo Mama’s