Margot, Narberth

232 Woodbine Ave.
Narberth, PA
610.660.0160

Overall: Margot is a lively neighborhood restaurant with original, creative cuisine that belies the location. Although an early visit showed a few flaws, this restaurant should quickly blossom into one of the finest area BYOBs.

Food: Margot claims to be modern-American with flavors that promise bold innovation, and the food delivers. The starter we tried — “Sweet Potato Pancakes” ($8), which appeared in a tower with caramelized apples and chipolte & chive sour creams — was an excellent blend of flavors and textures. The sweetness of the apples paired beautifully with the spicy chipolte cream, and the crispy on the outside/soft on the inside potatoes melted in the mouth.

The “Duck of the Day” ($23), a confit-style grilled duck breast with tequila lime glaze served on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus, was simple but excellently prepared and completely tasty; the slightly sweet, crispy skin matched especially well with the creamy, pungent potatoes. I was slightly disappointed in the “Pork Medalliions in Shiraz Reduction” ($17), served with creamy Asiago polenta, sauteed haricot verts and pine nuts, but only because the menu’s description had me expecting greatness. I did find excellence in the polenta, but the pork was a tad bland, and, although I am a big believer in quality over quantity when it comes to food, I was shocked at how little pork this dish included — just two thin, tiny medallions. (For comparision, the plate of duck came with three times as much meat.) Regardless, the dish was enjoyable, especially when combining pork, polenta and reduction in the same bite. I might also nitpick that the hard tips of the haricot verts (green beans) were not trimmed, creating a little bit of friction in my mouth; this seems like a detail that should have been handled in the kitchen.

While we did not sample the Whole Wheat Linguini with sun-dried tomatoes, wild mushrooms, peas and asparagus in a light cream sauce ($19), Margot scores points for offering the healthier whole wheat pasta option.

Lastly, we tried the Ghirardelli chocolate challah bread ($6), which was probably the best bread pudding I’ve ever eaten (although, honestly, that is not saying too much). The rich chocolate, slight spices, whipped cream and warm (though it could have been a tad warmer) bread made a wonderful combination. The only shame is that there wasn’t any fine espresso to go along with it (just average drip coffee).

Ambiance: Although Margot describes itself as “intimate and candle-lit”, it is better pictured as a bustling neighborhood bistro. Neatly designed with bold colors, an open kitchen and white tablecloths, it is great for a upscale but casual night out. It is rather loud when full — only a problem when seeking out a quiet evening — and there are a few bad tables, especially for two people. (Avoid at all costs the table that is bordered by the front door, the waiter station and the bathrooms.)

It should also be noted that there is a porch out front for finer weather, which should be quite pleasant, especially with the quiet neighborhood location. That same location, however, makes it quite difficult to find adequate parking (only street is available), so plan accordingly.

Service: Staff is extremely friendly and dilligent, if a bit inexperienced. Margot herself also stopped by to say hello, which certainly added a personal touch not always available at even the smallest restaurants. There were a few minor flaws — we were never brought a bread basket even though the table next to us received two, and it took a little to long to have our wine opened, but nothing took much away from the experience.

Value: Starters are $7-10 and entrees run from $15 (meatloaf) to $27 (Filet). Factoring in the creativity, presentation and quality of food, the entrees are priced appropriately, and the BYOB factor makes this an excellent value. Expect to pay around $30-40 per person, depending, which — based on the quality of experience — is a mighty fine deal in our book.

Details:
# of times we’ve eaten there: 1
Reservations: Yes
Bar: BYOB
Credit Cards
web: http://margotbyob.com (cool site!)

The Freehouse, Wayne

110 North Wayne Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087
610.688.0800

Quick Take: The Freehouse is an english pub-style restaurant and bar in the center of Wayne. It features a small bar area downstairs with limited dining and an upstairs for dining. The pub is completely smoke free and has a good beer selection, including Magic Hat #9 and a seasonal Dogfish Head.

We have not eaten at the Freehouse, but feel free to view reader comments below or add your own review.

Big Easy Saloon, Paoli

The Big Easy closed in October 2010.

Quick Take: We haven’t had a formal dinner at The Big Easy, but have stopped in a few times for drinks and a little food. It’s a New Orleans theme with creole cuisine, a nice beer & wine selection and un-intrusive (from our experience) live music. We did have the opportunity to try the Andouille Meatloaf, which is easily the best meatloaf we’ve ever had. Reports on the service have been spotty, especially when the joint is hoppin’, which is quite common on the weekends.

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

Blush Restaurant & Bar, Bryn Mawr

24 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
(610) 527-7700

Rating: 2 silver spoons out of 5


Get a $25 gift certificate for $10 at Restaurant.com!

Overview: Another tenant behind the firehouse in Bryn Mawr, another uneven experience. Blush certainly has the potential to be decent, but a first look shows flawed cuisine and service.

Food: A surprisingly large, varied continental menu that offers a little something for everyone. For appetizers, we tried the Sweet Potato stuffed Ravioli ($8) served with Prosciutto and Sage Cream Sauce then topped with Brown Butter, which wasn’t bad but failed to overwhelm. It was tasty, but the sauce was a bit too heavy. The Duck Quesadilla ($10) was also palatable, although I think I enjoyed the one I had recently at World Cafe Live more (which shouldn’t be at Blush’s level).

For entrees, the Ancho chili crusted rib eye ($30), served atop avocado rice with sautéed sofrito vegetables and finished with a chipolte demi glace, was pretty disappointing. The steak was tough and less flavorful than I would have hoped, and neither the ancho chili or chipolte added much flavor (nor did the bland rice). For the price I would have expected something better. The Plancha seared halibut ($27) served with a fried shirimp & zucchini blossom over veggie risotto in a melted tomato sauce was decent, but it was not served as described on the menu (or by the waitress), creating a poor experience for us.

Our favorite entree was the Pan seared sesame crusted tuna ($25), served with sun-dried tomato mashed potatoes, marinated portabella mushroom and finished with cilantro cream and a chile aioli. The mushroom was kind of thrown on the plate haphazardly, but otherwise this was a tasty dish.

We ordered the Slow Roasted Salmon as well, but for some reason another Tuna was served to the person who ordered it.

Service: Our experience with Blush’s service was flat out poor. As I just mentioned, one member of our table was not even served the entree that he ordered. The waitress was barely apologetic when we pointed out this mistake. Earlier, my inquiry about what “melted” tomato sauce was was laughed off by the server (perhaps she was unable to describe it properly?), as if my seriousness about the food was ingenuine. We were in good spirits that night, celebrating and laughing (at least at the beginning), but I take my food seriously and expect serious answers when I ask about the makeup of an entree, especially at these prices.

One of the entrees was not described correctly on the menu or by the waitress, creating a problem for one of the people in our party. It is unacceptable to leave ingredients off the menu and not describe plates as they come to the table. (It should be noted that we did not pay for this item).

Of course, we were offered free dessert after this comedy of errors. And of course, we didn’t want dessert — we wanted to go home! I will never understand the customer service decision to prolong a bad experience for people. Just admit your mistake and offer to comp the offending meals! Making me stay is only going to make me dislike your restaurant even more!

Bar: Like everything else at Blush, wine is not cheap, but they had a few reasonable values. I’d recommend the Cline Zinfandel for $30 as a nice low-range selection.

Ambiance: Housed in the same room/layout as Bianca, the one thing Blush has going for it is a very nice veranda upstairs. The view is just the parking lot, but the area has a tuscan feel and is one of the better outdoor spaces in the area.

Value: Blush is pretty darn expensive, with entrees in the upper 20s and low 30s. Normally for that price, especially at a restaurant with a full bar, one might expect some pretty spectacular food. At Blush, however, the food is merely decent and the service is poor… hardly a good value.

Details:
# of times we’ve eaten there: 1
Reservations: Yes (OpenTable)
Bar: Full
Cards: AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Hours: Lunch: Monday – Saturday: 11:30am – 3:00pm
Dinner: Monday – Thursday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm, Friday – Saturday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm, Sunday: 4:00pm – 9:00pm
Sunday Brunch: 10:30am – 2:30pm
Site: dineatblush.com

Murray’s Delicatessen, Berwyn

575 Lancaster Avenue (Route 30)
Berwyn, PA 19312
(610) 644-1010

Shares a building with Bistro M.

Rating: 4 spoons out of 5

Overview: The Berwynoutpost of this famous Narberth landmark offers the same great Jewish deli fare in a more upscale setting.

Food: The new Murray’s sticks to the traditional Jewish deli menu that has made it’s Lower Merion sister a popular destination since 1945. And while the menu offers at least 150 different choices for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, I can’t imagine ever coming here for anything other than a sandwich. Be it corned beef, pastrami, roast turkey or anything else that they pack in between two slabs of rye, sandwiches are the heart and soul of this joint. After a couple visits, I already have my favorites: First, the Turkey on Multi-Grain Bread with Swiss, Lettuce and Cranberry Mayo (#29), which is a delicious take on the day-after-Thanksgiving to be enjoyed year-round. Murray’s homemade turkey breast is top-quality, tasty turkey that pairs beautifully with the mayo. Another great option is “Murray’s Delight” (#71), which contains hot Roumanian pastrami, melted swiss, kraut & Russian dressing. I had mine sans krout, but the flavorful pastrami and no-too-much dressing really makes this one tick. Absolutely melts in your mouth. Lastly, a friend called the traditional Reuben (#72) the best he’d ever had. (Personally, I preferred the pastrami.)

Value: Sandwiches are not exactly cheap — the “Delight” ran me $9.75, and that doesn’t include any sides. Still, I’ll shell out a few extra bucks for a sandwich this good any day of the week.

Details:
# of times we’ve eaten there: 5+
Cards: Yes
Bar: Full