Tired Hands Brewing Company, Ardmore

tired-hands-cafe

Put simply, Tired Hands Brew Cafe is one of the most exciting local openings in recent memory. It didn’t bring big city pedigree like White Dog Wayne, nor did it bring the hype of Xilantro. So why is it exciting? Because it’s a downright cool place that, unlike those other two, is also the type of place you want to visit every weekend. It’s comfortable, but modern and extremely well-designed (chalkboards! exposed beams! exposed brick!). You can go with your buddies. You can go on a date. You can bring the kids. And every time you go, there’ll likely be different beers on tap and different food on the menu.

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Teresa’s Next Door, Wayne

teresas-next-door-burrata

“As an appetizer special tonight,” said our affable waiter, “we have a deep-fried burrata.” “Ohhh sh!t,” I exclaimed. “You’re familiar with burrata then?” he asked. When I confirmed, he added: “then I guess you’ll be getting that.” Yeah, we will be, I admitted begrudgingly. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to order the deep fried ball of fresh mozzarella mixed with fresh cream (how could I not?) — my exasperation was due to the fact that I had already planned to warm my belly on a cold winter’s night with the seasonal “Reindeer Stew” at Teresa’s Next Door, which I rightfully took to be a very hearty meal. Adding the most decadent mozzarella stick ever created, plus a couple of TND’s amazing but heavy beers, surely meant a bellyache later. But there was no way I was turning down that burrata.

We didn’t go to TND that night with the intention of re-reviewing the popular Wayne bar & restaurant; though our previous article was a few years old, it still seemed to accurately describe the TND experience. Surprisingly however, the food has evolved quite a bit, and though the old standbys (an amazing beer list, 6 varieties of mussels with those amazing fries, comfort-food sandwiches) remain, the chefs have taken the specials and seasonal dishes to new heights of distinction and creativity.

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Twenty9 Opens in Malvern

Twenty9, a new bar & grill in the former Boathouse location in Malvern (which closed during the summer of 2010), opened earlier this month. It appears, from a few online reports, that the interior was given a much-needed renovation. Based on their Facebook feed, it appears Twenty9 will keep the drink specials-first, food-second attitude of the restaurant it replaced (and will surely pack the local business park set for happy hour, especially once the weather turns warm again).

BTW, we noticed that Twenty9 has a Facebook page but no website. Is this the new trend for restaurants? Why pay someone thousands for a site when you can just set up a FB page for free? Or is the website still in development? Hmmm.

Sovana Bistro, Kennett Square

696 Unionville Rd
Kennett Square, PA 19348
(610) 444-5600

Rating: 5 silver spoons out of 5

Overview: Outsanding upscale bistro that can offer both a casual neighborhood meal of small plates, pizza and pasta, and an upscale special occasion dinner of wonderful modern American entrees. Worth the drive from the Main Line!

Food: To start things off, a complimentary amuse bouche of cool three potato soup and crème freche was immensely fresh and even featured hints of kennett mushrooms. After struggling to decide among a variety of attack plans, we opted for the Antipasto ($18), a collection of different small bite appetizers. The Mushroom & Truffle Grilled Cheese was, obviously, great, as are most things that feature bread and melted cheese, but the local mushroom flavor added just enough interest to make this stand out even more so. Another winner was the Fava Bean Crostini with Shaved Pecorino, which, when dipped in the olive oil provided with the complimentary bread was even nicer. It was great to see Fiddle Head Ferns featured (with Prosciutto Di Parma), as these hard-to-find veggies are always a nice treat in the Spring. Though perhaps not the intended way to eat it, spreading the Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Flan on a piece of fresh, crusty bread made for a great impromptu bruschetta. Lastly, the Fried Smelts with Anchovy Aioli were just ok, as the “fishy” flavor overwhelmed to some extent.

The Natural Free Range Chicken entrée, served on a bed of Butternut Squash, Johnny’s Mushrooms, Cous Cous “Mac & Cheese” and Chicken Jus ($26) was the big winner of the evening (and we rarely order chicken!). The French-cut bird was perfectly cooked, crispy skin on the outside but still tender within, and the creamy “cous cous”, which was a mix of all the above ingredients, was both rich and comforting. The other entrée we tried, Local Spinach and Feta Tortellini served in a Spring Garlic Broth with Grated Aged Goat Cheese ($25), offered more subtle flavors but was both light and satisfying. It tasted like Spring in a bowl!

For dessert, we opted for the Liquid Center Butterscotch Cake, served with Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Espresso Dust and a Cocoa Nib “Glass” ($9) — think a butterscotch version of the classic molten chocolate cake. This was a bit too sweet — perhaps a coffee ice cream to replace the vanilla would provide some bitterness to offset the vanilla sweetness — but nonetheless we cleaned the plate.

On another visit, we sampled several of the excellent pizzas for a more casual dinner. Though everything was good, the Butternut Squash pie (Grilled Butternut Squash, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Gorgonzola, Baby Arugula) was out of this world. The sweetness of the squash paired brilliantly with the salty bacon for a unique, wonderful treat.

Bar: We chose to bring our own wine (for a $5 corkage fee), but Sovana does offer a nice selection of wine and beer. The moderately-sized wine list offers reasonably priced bottles ($30-60), though watch out for the single glass prices. For beers, they offer some nice local craft brews, including a couple draft choices from Delaware’s Twin Lakes Brewery.

Ambiance: We’re partial to this kind of place — bustling, modern, and friendly, with lots of wood and natural light. Perhaps not a place for a quiet, romantic evening, but otherwise excellent. They also have some tables outside, both on the side (in a nice garden area) and out front (strip mall parking lot views).

Service: Competent service — nothing outstanding to report.

Value: Hard to say what a meal for two will cost due to the abundant options for meals and drinks, but prices are available on the website. Though the entrée prices can head into the $30s, the food is excellent and likely worth the price. Having a BYOB option, despite the $5 corkage (which is quite reasonable considering the license), is also great. And, if you want to try Sovana without breaking the bank, a meal could quite easily be made of appetizers and pizza.

Details:
# VISITS: 2
Cards: Yes
Bar: Yes / BYOW $5
Site: http://www.sovanabistro.com/
Reservations: OpenTable