Avalon, West Chester

July 24th, 2004

312 S. High St.
West Chester, PA
610.436.4100

Rating: 3 silver spoons out of 5

Overview: Quaint, romantic neighborhood BYOB with an ambitious menu and solid delivery.

Food: Appetizers are customary of this type of place — i.e. the Portabella & Goat Cheese Tart and the Tuna Carpaccio. The tuna was a decent choice but was nothing super-special. For entrees, the Braised Veal Cheeks with Caramelized Root Vegetable Risotto ($27) is an interesting choice — it is actually the cheek of the veal, a tender meat that crumbles apart kind of like a pot roast after braising. While this plate was an opportunity to try something different, it wasn’t quite as exciting as I would have expected. The Rib Eye, served with Sautéed Spinach, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes in a red wine sauce ($24), was expertly prepared and quite tasty. A seared snapper special was the best meal I’ve had there, exellently prepared with sweet roasted peppers.

Ambiance: Upscale but comfortable, The room creates a nice balance between fine dining and neighborhood dining. Outdoor seating is available during the summer on a lovely garden patio.

Service: Waitstaff very attentive and supportive.

Value: The prices at Avalon are not cheap, but consistent with similar BYOBs in the area. The overall value proposition is reasonable.

Details:
# of times we’ve eaten there: 2
Reservations: Yes – Recommended (available online)
Payments: Cards
Bar: BYOB
Website: http://www.avalonrestaurant.org

18 Responses to “Avalon, West Chester”

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  1. JoAnna says:

    My date and I had a wonderful experience at Avalon! The food was delicious, ambiance inviting, and the service friendly. It has become one of our favorite places to dine in West Chester!

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  2. Jen Calabro says:

    My husband and I tried Avalon for the first time on Valentine’s Day. The atmosphere was cozy with a woodburnig fireplace. Our waiter was great and took our compliments personally which makes me feel like he truly likes his job and takes pride in the restaurant. Our portion sizes were perfect and the food was excellent! We will definately be going back to Avalon!

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  3. Jenna says:

    We live in West Chester and enjoy BYO’s –Avalon was great. The food was different and delightful. The service was great. We would recommend Avalon but, get there a few minutes early as parking was a challenge.

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  4. matt & erin says:

    We live in West Chester and enjoy BYO’s but they’re difficult to find outside center city. We decided to try Avalon and were happy with our choice. The service was pleasant and it was a nice touch that the hostess came to our table to make sure we were enjoying our dinner. The food was very good and we were satisfied with our meals (the Braised Beef Agnoloti was interesting and very tasty, and the 7-cheese plate as an entree was plenty). We recommended Avalon to friends and were going to return for New Year’s Eve but could not work out a time that worked for our entire party. Our only complaint was the corking fee.

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  5. Jeff says:

    Avalon is my favorite local restaurant. The food is always inventive, delicious and is fairly priced. The room is so warm, with it’s fireplace and beautiful hardwood floors. The outdoor patio is secluded and can be extremely romantic, especially if seated near the little fountain as my wife and I were during lunch a month ago. The wait staff and host are top notch, paying attention to the small details (like the old fashion touch of folding your napkin while you visit the restroom). During our last visit for dinner, last Friday, the kitchen whipped up a brand new appetizer, had the wait staff sample it and then 5 minutes later we were being offered it. It was a potato pancake with pancetta and asiago cheese served along side plum mustardo. The sweetness of the plum worked perfectly with the bacon.

    On Jan 9th, I had the Braised Beef Agnoloti in a Cabernet Demi over top Broccoli Rabe Wow, it was incredible. The beef was so tender and succulent. My wife enjoyed the butternut squash ravioli in the most tasty brown butter sauce.

    I look forward to every visit, knowing I’m going to be treated to a great meal and taken care of with precision.

    You can often get a street parking spot right out front, but worst case there is a nice big lot a mere 3 blocks away on High street.

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  6. Wine Pimp says:

    My wife and I joined another couple at Avalon last weekend upon their invitation and had a great experience. Having just one, unremarkable experience there years ago, we were both skeptical. But we trusted our friends’ discerning taste (and their knowledge of ours), and wow, what a delicious surprise it turned out to be!

    We found the menu to have several intriguing options, and overall, the dishes were a touch creative and well executed. At our table, we started with the poached calamari (melt-in-your-mouth tender, served with kalamata olives as an inspired choice) and the grilled romaine hearts (an interesting preparation, flavored with crisp polenta croutons). Our entrée choices included the mushroom tortellini (tender and flavorful in an elegant truffled mushroom broth), the pork tenderloin (beautifully adorned with artichokes), the black pepper fettuccine carbanara (presented with an egg yolk on the top), and the braised beef agnoloti in a Cabernet demi-sauce (this dish alone is worth the trip).

    As a group of wine lovers, we brought along both lighter and heavier styles of white and red that paired well with all our choices.

    With respect to atmosphere, the space has an open, updated, contemporary feel to it (at least since we had been there), and the crowd was lively. Service was attentive, well paced, and even at the end of a busy Saturday shift, the servers were patient with us as we lingered over our last bottle.

    On the downside, while our table near the fireplace provided nice ambience, it became smoky at one point. Also, the noise level was on the high end, but as a lively party of four ourselves, this wasn’t too much of a problem.

    I will definitely return to Avalon, and encourage anyone to give it a try for the first time, or revisit it like we did.

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  7. mike says:

    Excellent value for creative food in the suburbs.

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  8. Doug W says:

    My wife and I have enjoyed many excellent meals at Avalon and have taken family and friends there as well. When you go, not only will you enjoy great food, but the service and ambiance are excellent as well. The menu changes based on what the can get and they try as much as possible to use local items in their menu. the result is food that is fresh and tasty! The Cheese plate is the best we have found in the area and we have tried them in lots of places. In short, if you want reliably good food at a fair price served up by friendly people, get a reservation at Avalon! Don’t forget to bring a bottle or two of nice wine, and in good weather the Patio seating is delightful.

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  9. Tessa says:

    We recently dined at Avalon on a Saturday evening. A most unusual experience. The food was good but not great. The service was just unique. Our waiter was attentive at times and then would disappear for periods. He gave odd suggestions about what to order and shared a bit too much about the owner and chef. Likening the owner’s temper to Joe Pesci in mob movie and sharing that the chef becomes a crazy man if anyone complained is more than I want to know. Also, it took 3 hours to get thru the meal as each course took longer to receive. Though our waiter seemed to gain energy and became very chatty after each visit to the kitchen. Maybe it was just Red Bull night back there???

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  10. We used to go to the Avalon once a month and moved to Montgomery County. Just went back for a recent visit, and apparently the economy hit them hard as well. The appetizer was small, a cheese plate with barely any cheese on it for $15 and then the rest of our meals were forgettable. I usually leave there feeling wowed and I just left feeling ripped off. The chef needs to return to his roots

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  11. Gina says:

    My husband and I frequent Avalon often. We love BYOBs and this one is the best. It has a great prixe-fixe menu that can’t be beat. We ALWAYS order the calamari (it is my husband’s favorite) and the mussels appetizers (my favorite.) The specials menu always has some interesting things to offer and we have never been disappointed. The service is always great, especially Teresa. We often have her as our server and she makes great recommendations and always greets us with a smile.

    If you haven’t tried this place, do it! You won’t be disappointed!

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  12. Anne says:

    We dined at Avalon this Sunday evening and had mixed feelings about our experience. While our service was very personable and professional, and the outdoor seating area is hard to beat, the food sorely lagged behind. The menu was a bit redundant and repetitive. For instance, 3 dishes were served with the same yukon gold mashed potatoes, and two were served with the same butternut squash puree. Also, there was a chicken dish on the menu and also a chicken offered for a special. The menu is fairly limited, and I don’t think it’s too much to hope for a different meat as a special… maybe duck or even pheasant… but why two chicken dishes? The whole point of a special is to offer something that’s not already on the menu… that coupled with the fact that they were out of several dishes made for very limited choices. As for our food, the appetizers were good. We had a goat cheese and beet napoleon that could’ve used a little more seasoning and zip, and actually wasn’t a real napoleon (meaning 3 layers). This was just beets topped with goat cheese, but it was good none the less… albeit a bit bland. We also had seared scallops with a red onion marmalade which tasted nice, but for $15.00, I expected more than 2 smallish scallops and a tablespoon of onions. Like so many other restaurants we dine at today, the entrees disappointed. One was a poached fish “stew” which was bland and unremarkable, and the other was a grilled pork tenderloin which was very sloppily presented and failed to impress us. Desserts were fairly average with not a lot of choices (2 pear desserts on a limited menu… one poached and one as a tart). One other thing I’ll mention, we chose Avalon based on their web site which is quite impressive. The food photos shown there are beautiful and very clean looking… all the presentations look tight and well thought out, but in person the food fails to match up. It’s sloppy with the exception of the apps. All and all it was ok. The saving grace is that the outdoor seating area is very beautiful and romantic and the service was very nice. We, sadly, are more concerned with the food. There are so many places out there with better execution, that it’s hard to justify a return trip for quite a while.

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  13. Brian says:

    PROS: Good Service. Nice location. Free and accessible location. BYOB. Excellent Ambience – nice patio. Bread is exceptional. Seasonal menu with local ingredients. Food presentation is elegant.

    CONS: Inconsistent execution of dishes. Many of the sauces weren’t balanced the way that we like. The lemon was too dominant in the shrimp scampi. The cider reduction and butternut squash was too sweet for the pork tenderloin. The mushroom ragout on top of polenta had an unintersting texture. The homemade mango sorbet had ideal consistency, but didn’t have a great taste. I have had store bought sorbets with just as good flavor.

    Food was reasonably priced. Because of the ambience, convenience and price, we will try this place again. We want to like this place. Some of the dishes we ordered showed potential.

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  14. George says:

    My wife and I make a this our regular night out in West Chester as the selections, preparation, and service have always made this a great dining experience. The owners are doing a wonderful job and we will continue to come back.

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  15. Since re-doing their dining-room to make it trendier and bringing in a new chef I think it is one of the best restaurants in the area. It is great to have a restaurant with a Manhattan type of feel to it in West Chester. Aside from great atmosphere and great food, everyone from the staff to the owners go way out of their way for the customers.

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  16. administrator says:

    Agreed, it is pretty tough to top Sarcone’s bread.

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  17. John Brandt _ Lee says:

    Thank you for the review, I will take this into consideration. However I am a little suprised about the bread. We receive alot of compliments on our Sarcone’s seeded loaf and I think saying Giant’s bread is better than Sarcone’s (one of south philly’s best) may be a little harsh.
    John Brantd-Lee
    Owner

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  18. Marsha says:

    Avalon makes a wonderful neighborhood place, but it’s not really worth a trip. Our meal was nicely executed and our server both knowledgable and personable, and the overall experience was very pleasant. I had a giggle at the pretension of the water steward – so very California – and my only complaint is about the very pedestrian bread basket. One might do better at the local Giant and I wonder why they bother with such a mediocre offering. Other than that, a nice meal in a nice location.

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