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.
It is finally time, then, to bury the hatchet, and put Christopher’s back into the mix. When some friends were looking for a place to meet for lunch in Wayne recently, I enthusiastically suggested this we go there.
The atmosphere is great; it always has been. Some commenters have suggested that the negative review related to the fact that the room is always filled with families with children. This makes it noisy, yes, but so what? This is a “neighborhood place”, not the Four Seasons (or Hogfish, apparently). It’s probably not the best choice for a romantic, candlelit dinner, but it is a fun, bustling room that is designed quite nicely and is, of course, a great place to bring kids.
Service is decidedly casual, as it should be, but a small detail showed considerable improvement since the days of crunchy ravioli. One of our party mentioned a food allergy, and the seemingly young and potentially inexperienced server handled it as well as I’ve ever seen. “No problem,” she said right away. “Our kitchen is great with allergies. I’ll let them know right away.” It’s little touches such as this that make diners feel like they are in good hands.
Christopher’s menu remains a bit unfocused; their website even states that they offer “a little bit of everything” and “so many choices.” It’s hard to believe any restaurant can expertly execute Mexican, burgers, pizza, pasta, seafood and everything in between, but Christopher’s continued success suggests that they are managing some level of consistency.
That said, the Guinness pulled pork sandwich immediately drew my attention. Not a barbecue pulled pork (which they do also offer), which tend to be overly sweet in these types of establishments, this was pork slowly braised in dark, roasty beer. An interesting twist on a favorite, to be sure. The richness of the pork paired nicely with tangy apple slaw, as well as a spicy-sweet “cherry” mustard, and the pretzel roll was a comforting, delicious touch to finish it off. This sandwich is perhaps a bit heavy for a business lunch, but on a day off, when paired with one of the craft beers on tap (from a small but adequate list), it hit the spot.
It was just a sandwich. There are a world of other menu options to explore, which would take many, many visits to do with any completeness (even just sticking to the simple stuff, which seems wise), but it was definitely a more enjoyable experience than it was in 2004.
Perhaps Christopher’s isn’t a terrible restaurant after all.
All the comments from 2004-present are available below.
Bar: A nice little bar that, if you can get a seat, is a good place for a drink with a few friends. This is the only reason I gave the restaurant even one spoon.
Ambiance: The sad thing about Christophers is that it is a great space. Its an open room with exposed brick walls and a comfortable bar in the corner. Its loud and noisy and bustling (often with children, especially earlier), but that is how any “neighborhood place” should be.
Service: I got my crunchy ravioli free, but that doesn’t make up for the way it was served to me, twice.
Value: The wine list has a number of good values. (Although a recent visit to the bar revealed that wine by the glass has become quite expensive.) Bad food is never a good value.