Christopher’s, Wayne

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Perhaps the most controversial restaurant review Main Line Dine has ever written was that of Christopher’s in Wayne, which posted shortly after the site launched in 2003. This review was ruthless, wasting little time calling out Christopher’s as “a terrible restaurant… [where] you won’t get a decent meal.”

There was nothing more to this review than what it was; no below-the-surface grudges existed. It was fairly based on several poor experiences, which were documented with clear examples. The most egregious concerned a dish of ravioli that was so undercooked it was crunchy, then re-served without sauce (and still crunchy, btw) after sending it back. (After posting the review, we actually got several notes from Chef/Owner Chris Todd inviting us to revisit, but it was too late. This was unforgivable stuff – not “worth another try” stuff.)

Readers, for the most part, agreed with our assessment. Friends who read it concurred wholeheartedly. Though some commenters on the site thought the review was overly harsh, they rarely offered anything other than a halfhearted defense.

So why was this review controversial? Well, it was from 2003, and remained on the site, unchanged, through 2011. As the years went by, and Christopher’s remained open — which, of course is not necessarily an indication of good food, just good business — the reviews began to change. More often, when someone left a comment about Christopher’s, it was something along the lines of “What is your problem? This place is pretty good”. My one buddy, who was perhaps the most ardent supporter of our original review, even conceded that he and his wife now go regularly and enjoy it for what it is – a casual, quick bite.

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Dia Doce Cupcakes

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I’m not really a cake person. I’d much rather eat a cookie or a brownie, or some ice cream. I’ll admit, however, to getting caught up in the cupcake movement when it hit the area, falling for Cupcakes Gourmet when it first opened. But that love affair was short-lived. I quickly remembered cookies and brownies, and lost interest in the cupcake thing.

So, though I’ve seen Dia Doce at the East Goshen Farmers Market on several occasions, I always walked by without much of a glance (after all, My House Cookies, Laura’s Biscotti and Market Day Canele all also appear at the same market). Being a reluctant slave to food trend, however, I have to admit that, the other day, I walked past their cupcake truck at an event and couldn’t resist the temptation to try a Maple Bacon cupcake. After all, cupcakes and bacon are two of the biggest trends we’ve seen over the past 5 years or so, and I’ve never had the combination.

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Sugartown Strawberries, Malvern

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I’ll never forget the best strawberries I’ve ever eaten. It was 1997; I was in Munich, Germany, strolling on the outskirts of the Viktualienmarkt (a farm market in the center of the old town), when I walked past a vendor selling strawberries that smelled so intoxicating that I couldn’t do anything else but stop. The berries lived up to their fragrant aroma; they were perfectly sweet and juicy, with just a hint of tang. What was so amazing about these strawberries was how they absolutely melted in my mouth. Typically, with supermarket strawberries, firmness indicates ripeness; a strawberry that falls apart while eating is too far on the wrong side of rotten.

Which brings me to Sugartown Strawberries, a small farm that’s about a mile south of Paoli Pike, on Sugartown road in Malvern. Perhaps best known as a purveyor of pick your own (PYO) strawberries (which was unavailable last year and isn’t available yet this year), SS offers fresh produce at a small farm stand Spring through Fall, including strawberries, of course, as well as asparagus, squash, eggplant, peppers, sweet corn and tomatoes.

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Bake 425 Pizza, Bryn Mawr

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Bake 425, which opened in April 2011 at 1012 W. Lancaster Ave. in Bryn Mawr, is a take-out, bake-at-home pizza shop and the latest project from Pete Howey and Aaron Nocks, owners of Peace-A-Pizza. Elizabeth Comiskey of Phoenixville’s Farmers Market helps source the completely organic, seasonal ingredients. The menu is mostly pizza, ranging from simple plain or Margherita to more innovative combinations such as the “Southwest Sausage”, which features organic tomato sauce, locally made Italian sausage, mozzerella & fontinella cheeses, sliced poblano peppers, caramelized onions & fresh oregano. Other offerings include organic salads, apple crisp and “ginormous” cookies.

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Town Hall Coffee, Merion Station

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A “good” cup of coffee is relatively easy to find in our area. (Last summer, while driving through rural North Carolina, well, that was another story.) We’re lucky enough to have a few decent independent coffee shops, and even chains like Starbucks or Saxby’s will typically provide a reasonable cup. “Great” cups of coffee, on the other hand, are far more rare. Great coffee isn’t just tasty; it’s an experience that lingers for days, even years after the mere moments of consumption are past. Town Hall Coffee in Merion Station (Narberth) makes great coffee. In fact, they brew one of the finest two or three cups of coffee I’ve ever had.

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