“As an appetizer special tonight,” said our affable waiter, “we have a deep-fried burrata.” “Ohhh sh!t,” I exclaimed. “You’re familiar with burrata then?” he asked. When I confirmed, he added: “then I guess you’ll be getting that.” Yeah, we will be, I admitted begrudgingly. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to order the deep fried ball of fresh mozzarella mixed with fresh cream (how could I not?) — my exasperation was due to the fact that I had already planned to warm my belly on a cold winter’s night with the seasonal “Reindeer Stew” at Teresa’s Next Door, which I rightfully took to be a very hearty meal. Adding the most decadent mozzarella stick ever created, plus a couple of TND’s amazing but heavy beers, surely meant a bellyache later. But there was no way I was turning down that burrata.
We didn’t go to TND that night with the intention of re-reviewing the popular Wayne bar & restaurant; though our previous article was a few years old, it still seemed to accurately describe the TND experience. Surprisingly however, the food has evolved quite a bit, and though the old standbys (an amazing beer list, 6 varieties of mussels with those amazing fries, comfort-food sandwiches) remain, the chefs have taken the specials and seasonal dishes to new heights of distinction and creativity.
Firstly, there was that burrata special. For the uninitiated, burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. On the surface it appears to be the same thing as fresh mozzarella, but when cut open, the solid exterior yields to a soft, oozing, silky interior of cheese and cream. Though this is nothing new in Italy, 2010 was the first time this delicacy started to pop up more commonly in places like New York City, so it was great to see it on the menu in Wayne. Deep frying this already decadent creation is probably unnecessary, but it certainly was an interesting twist to try. (Once.)
Another nightly special was a grilled llama burger. My dining partner was thinking about getting a burger anyway, so I was able to talk her into it, because, really, how often does anyone eat llama? Certainly this was unexpected from a quick bite in downtown Wayne! Knowing llama is less fatty than beef (and thus a bit blander), we chose to get a runny fried egg on top to make up for the lost fat/flavor. The burger was perfectly cooked medium rare, tender and juicy. It was only mildly gamey and the egg was a great addition. Though this burger didn’t actually come with fries, we had to order TND’s amazing hand-cut, Belgian-style frites with aioli too, as they just may be the best in the area, and serve as a perfect foil to either a burger or any of TND’s great mussel dishes.
Lastly, the entree we came for: Reindeer Stew 2010 – braised antelope shanks in Troegs Mad Elf with baby carrots, fingerling potatoes, herbs and cran-huckleberry chutney ($27). The meat was perfectly fall-off-the-bone tender, with no knife needed. In contrast to the llama, it was quite gamey, so probably not for everyone, and probably not something I’d want every weekend, but the uniqueness of the dish made it interesting and enjoyable. I particularly liked the cherry notes from the Mad Elf that accented the sauce, and the tang of the cranberry chutney.
Aside from the food, TND continues to set the standard (along with TJs) for beer service and selection in the area. The draft selection is absurd, featuring a wide variety of domestic and import craft and/or specialty beers (with a focus on Belgians) that will rotate regularly, all with appropriate glassware. There are also hundreds of bottles (from countries from the US to Belgium to Malta) available and an extensive, reasonably priced wine selection.
TND is a long, thin room with an incredible bar alongside the left side (the display of glasses is a sight to be seen). The right side is lined mostly with 2-4 person booths but also with some smaller tables (similar to the cafe) along the side. There isn’t a ton of room in the center, so when things get busy, expect it to be a little cramped and quite noisy. Unfortunately most of the tables/booths are small, so any party over 4 will have a tough time finding space together.
Over the years there have been quite a few comments on this site (which can be viewed below) complaining about rude and snobby staff members, but we have neither experienced this in previous visits, nor did we experience it during our recent visit. Our waiter was friendly, knowledgeable and casually professional.
The only downside to TND is the fact that it isn’t dirt cheap night out like the cafe next door. The food is aptly priced, and a person could easily fill up on food for less than $20, but the beer and wine will bring the overall cost up quite a bit (especially if you, like us, can’t resist trying several different varieties). Still, a visit to TND won’t break the bank (unless you start downing $48 bottles of Scaldis Prestige).
Teresa’s Next Door
126 N. Wayne Ave.
Wayne, PA 19087