Avalon, West Chester

312 S. High St.
West Chester, PA

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.

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

Teresa’s Cafe, Wayne

124 N. Wayne Ave.
Wayne, PA 19087

Rating: 4 silver spoons out of 5

Overview: Possibly the perfect neighborhood restaurant – good food, great service, nice people. Highly Recommended.

Food: Italian bistro fare, with pastas, pizzas, and a solid selection of meat entrees. The pastas are uniformly excellent and the highlight of the menu. Teresa’s creamy, unique pesto sauce is probably the best I’ve had this side of Italy — its so good that I have hard time ordering anything else. The “Fusili Emiliani”, squiggly pasta with pan seared mushrooms and proscuitto is the top pesto dish, but there are several others to choose from. Good news — the Ravioli al Burro is back, a fabulous roasted red pepper ravioli dish with a browned butter, sage and toasted walnut sauce.

I can’t remember exactly when Teresa’s opened (early-mid 90s?), but for the majority of the restaurant’s life, the menu stayed pretty stagnant. Although I liked pretty much everything they offered, I often wondered why it was never updated. In the past two years, however, the menu has changed several times, so much so that I haven’t even been able to try everything (and we go to Teresa’s a lot). The changes are a great development, however, as they seem to have stimulated the chef’s creativity. Currently there is an excellent pork medallion dish with a wild blueberry-sage sauce over asparagus risotto, served with broccoli rabe. Dishes like this are a primary reason why I now order meat entrees almost exclusively (despite what is written in the last paragraph). There’s also an excellent Osso Bucco, and one can never go wrong with the Tuna or Salmon.

Finally, I’ve never actually had the pizza, but it looks delicious.

Bread: Outstanding olive oil & spices mixture with complimentary Italian bread. Probably the best bread/oil combo in the area.

Ambiance: Just a wonderful local bistro, located smack in the middle of the little village of Wayne. The decor is quaint, modern, and bustling all at the same time. Its loud, but in a good way — you always feel as if you are part of something. The one complaint I hear most often is that the tables for two along the right side of the dining room are too close together — so much so that you are closer to the person next to you (at the next table) than you are to your dining companion. This has never bothered me personally, but its the most common complaint I get from other Teresa’s diners.

Service: The service is top notch. Requests are always fulfilled in a timely manner, and the waitstaff could not be nicer.

Value: Great Value! It’s BYOB, so two can eat dinner for under $40, sometimes under $30 depending on what is ordered.

# of times we’ve eaten there: countless
Reservations: None. Can be a long wait during peak weekend hours.
Payments: Cards

Fayette Street Grille, Conshohocken

308 Fayette Street
Conshohocken, PA

(610) 567-0366

Rating: 3 silver spoons out of 5

Overview: A nice neighborhood BYOB with occasionally good but inconsistent food. The menu is highly ambitious, but never quite reaches the heights the menu descriptions suggest. The menu is a 3-course prix fixe, but is reasonably priced ($28.50 per person).

Food: Eclectic American cuisine. For starters, there was a salmon cake special that sounded great but came out bland and dry. A dining companion had the “Honey Almond Baked Brie in Phyllo with a Raspberry Sauce” which was deliciously sweet and succulent, but obviously not the lightest appetizer in history. For main courses, the “Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Butter Pecan Sauce, served over Vanilla Sweet Potato Mousse” was a bit oversweet and lacked complexity. The “Filet Mignon with Red Onion Jam and Bordelaise Sauce on a Bed of Roasted Garlic Potato Mousse” sounded great on paper but failed to overwhelm anyone who ordered it. The desserts change nightly and are easily the best course.

Ambiance: Small, neighborhood place. Very nice.

Service: Service was good. Not much else to say here.

Value: $28.50 for three courses, BYOB… I’d say this is a good value. Personally, however, I rarely order three courses, so that makes me question the value a bit. Still, a solid value.

# of times we’ve eaten there: 2
Reservations: Yes
Payments: Cards

Lourdas, Bryn Mawr

50 N. Bryn Mawr Ave.,
Bryn Mawr, PA
(610) 520-0288

Rating: 3 silver spoons out of 5

Overview: Quaint little BYOB serving simple, consistent Greek food.

Food: Many traditional Greek dishes such as souvlaki (filet, lamb or chicken skewers on a bed of rice), gyros, and fish prepared Greek-style (oil, tomatoes, peppers). While the food at Lourdas won’t ever astonish, it is unvaryingly a solid meal.

Bread: Warmed Pita with Hummus — different and great.

Ambiance: A small, very bright room that is both casual and comfortable. Decorated with lots of white and blue — a strong Greek motif.

Service: Staff is young, energetic and enthusiastic.

Value: BYOB with very reasonable prices.

# of times we’ve eaten there: 5
Reservations: Yes
Payments: Cards