Pietro’s Prime, West Chester

125 Market Street

Quick Take: Pietro’s Prime, an upscale steak house operated by the owners of longtime Chester County market Giunta’s, is now open in the former Murray’s Deli space in West Chester.

Went to Pietro’s for lunch, and it was ok. The space itself is gorgeous (though they owe much of this to Murray’s), with the bar now where the old deli was and the old bar room converted into a dining area. The food was good, but not great, especially considering the prices. They have an interesting selection of different sandwiches and light entrees including several different steak sandwiches and burgers, shrimp, crab cakes, etc. The service was pleasant but not without flaws, an issue due to the intended atmosphere and prices. All in all, it seems that the owners of Pietro’s have skills better suited to creating a welcoming, casual neighborhood restaurant, but instead are trying to create a fine dining destination… that falls a little short.

For more, check out what WC Dish has to say or view the menu, now available on WC Dish (PDF).

Feel free to view reader comments or add your own review.

Gilmore’s, West Chester

133 East Gay St.
West Chester, PA 19380
(610) 431-2800

Rating: 2 spoons out of 5

Overview: I’ve been waiting to eat at Gilmore’s for some time now; hyped as the suburban home of a former Le Bec-Fin chef de cuisine, this tiny West Chester bistro is frequently mentioned as the class of the Western Philadelphia suburbs. That being said, I was quite excited to finally get a reservation I could keep (weekend tables require at least a month notice, even more for Saturdays). Unfortunately, however, Gilmore’s was all hype and little delivery; the menu was boring and the food itself bland and unexciting. Perhaps we visited on an off-night, for in the end Gilmore’s showed no signs of being West Chester’s supposed crown jewel.

Food: A variety of French-inspired choices, including plenty of seafood, game and beef. “Baby New Zealand Rack of Lamb Persillade”, or lamb with a mustard-herb-garlic crust and lamb jus, initially was served extremely rare (ordered medium rare, as the chef recommended) and had to be sent back. When it did come back cooked properly, it did not have enough flavor to save the original miscue. (It was certainly a reasonable entree, but at $31 I expect something a bit more satisfying.) The “Pan-Seared Salmon” came on a bed of French lentils, and again was decent but hardly transcendent. I did not try the “New York Strip Steak”, served au poivre, but on sight I didn’t feel I was missing out — it was thin and generally not that appealing to the eye. One of the biggest issues I have with the entrees at Gilmore’s is that they all come with the same side dishes — on this particular night whipped potatoes and a brussels sprout casserole-type concoction. To me the sign of a truly inspired chef is one who can pair the entire plate, not sling a scoop of the veggies du jour next to each piece of meat on the menu. This is especially disturbing at a tiny place like Gilmore’s — with only 11 tables, expecting more creativity does not seem out of the question (not to mention the ~ $30 an entree price tag).

My disappointment continued into dessert and the “Warm Liquid Center Chocolate Soufflé”. I truly thought I would never meet a chocolate soufflé I didn’t like, but I also never thought I’d taste one this insipid. The typically rich, decadent dessert had hardly any flavor! The French-pressed coffee, on the other hand, had a much stronger taste; it was rich and satisfying.

Besides the coffee, the highlight of the evening was the “Black and White” risotto, a creamy black truffle risotto served with fresh shredded white truffles. Having never had risotto with truly fresh truffles, I swallowed the exorbitant $20 appetizer price tag to give it a shot (after all, we were at Gilmore’s, the suburb’s best restaurant). It really was quite good, especially the fresh, fragrant white truffles. Looking back, the small portion probably didn’t warrant the price, but it was easily the best food we ate that evening.

Ambiance: As I mentioned previously, Gilmore’s is extremely small, and there isn’t a bad table in the place. It has a slightly stodgy (think old-school Main Line) feel, but also has a nice mix of class and comfort.

Service: The waitstaff was extremely nice and helpful. However, a few other service-related flaws concern me. Firstly, the menu: descriptions of each entree are incredibly minimal, so much so that I really didn’t have much idea what each entree actually was (although perhaps the real problem here is that the plates actually don’t have much else to talk about beyond the type of meat). I basically had to have the server go through the entire menu with me just so I knew what the options were (which she did quite willingly — it just seemed unnecessary). Spending a few minutes adding better descriptions to the menu would certainly provide the customers with a better ordering experience. Secondly, when I sent back my rack of lamb, the waiter said to me (something like): “Well, the chef’s medium rare does tend to be pretty rare“. If that is the case, why didn’t the waitress tell me that when I ordered? How am I supposed to know that the chef’s idea of medium rare is actually “rare”? Heck, even at Outback Steakhouse they tell you that!

Value: Gilmore’s is one of the more expensive BYOB’s in the area… expect to spend $40-50 per person. I just can’t justify paying this kind of money when you can get a more interesting meal at Avalon right around the corner for an equal or lesser price.

# of Times We’ve Eaten There: 1
Reservations: Required
Cards: Yes
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 6:00pm & 8:30pm dinner seating

The Mediterranean, West Chester

150 W. Gay St.
West Chester, PA

Rating: 3 silver spoons out of 5

Overview: Long time West Chester mainstay offers well-prepared, traditional Greek cuisine (and BYOB!).

Food: Classic Greek fare such as souvlaki and flafel highlighted with homemade hummus and grilled pita. The menu at The Mediterranean does not change often and rarely pushes the envelope, but it is consistent and tasty nonetheless. There are several excellent starters, most notably the roasted sweet peppers, served on grilled French bread. Want to try something different? Go for the “meat pie”, a pizza-like concoction topped with meat and spices… excellent to share. The hummus is also excellent, but since most entrees come with the chickpea spread on the side, it is best to avoid the appetizer. Perhaps the best main course offered is the strangely appealing “Kibbi Platter”, a meatloaf (for lack of a better description) of ground lamb, beautifully spiced and served with a mild, creamy yogurt dipping sauce. All the flavors play off each other beautifully. Souvlaki (Greek Shish-Kabobs) is available with lamb, beef or chicken, and is simple but very good. My only complaint with a recent order of the lamb version was that the cubes of grilled lamb were a bit skimpy.

Ambiance: Classic, far from trendy. Small and sometimes cramped. I still haven’t found my way upstairs.

Value: The folks who run the Mediterranean recently raised the prices for the first time in many years, taking most of their entrees into the upper teens. As a relatively new customer, this seemed to be a reasonable and fair increase, but some long time customers have not been as positive. That said, a casual, well-cooked meal with BYOB for around $25 per person seems like a decent value to me.

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

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

Kildare’s, West Chester

Gay St. (Across the street from Iron Hill Brewery)
West Chester, PA

Rating: 2 silver spoons out of 5

Overview: A chain Irish pub in the center of West Chester. Crowded and noisy on the weekend, but manageable for a slightly older crowd.

Food: Irish Pub fare — Sandwiches, Fish & Chips, Guinness Stew, etc… Solid for what it is.

Bread: Maybe it is just the Guinness talking, but the soda bread is to die for. Sweet and crumbly, and could be eaten even without the butter.

Ambiance: Noisy Irish Pub, but a fun place to hang out that isn’t too over the top. Can be difficult to find a seat at the bar on weekends (if you’re just drinking or waiting for a table). Some seating out front on the sidewalk (sturdy wooden tables/chairs too, not the normally flimsy stuff you’ll see outside a bar in Philly).

Service: Fine for this type of place. Some smokin’ hot waitresses, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Value: They’ll fill you up on food & Guinness for about $20 per — I’d say that’s pretty good.

# of times we’ve eaten there: 3
Reservations: No
Payments: Cards
Bar: Full
Website: http://www.kildarespub.com

Locations also in KoP, Manayunk, Media and Philly