Sovana Bistro, Kennett Square

696 Unionville Rd
Kennett Square, PA 19348
(610) 444-5600

Rating: 5 silver spoons out of 5

Overview: Outsanding upscale bistro that can offer both a casual neighborhood meal of small plates, pizza and pasta, and an upscale special occasion dinner of wonderful modern American entrees. Worth the drive from the Main Line!

Food: To start things off, a complimentary amuse bouche of cool three potato soup and crème freche was immensely fresh and even featured hints of kennett mushrooms. After struggling to decide among a variety of attack plans, we opted for the Antipasto ($18), a collection of different small bite appetizers. The Mushroom & Truffle Grilled Cheese was, obviously, great, as are most things that feature bread and melted cheese, but the local mushroom flavor added just enough interest to make this stand out even more so. Another winner was the Fava Bean Crostini with Shaved Pecorino, which, when dipped in the olive oil provided with the complimentary bread was even nicer. It was great to see Fiddle Head Ferns featured (with Prosciutto Di Parma), as these hard-to-find veggies are always a nice treat in the Spring. Though perhaps not the intended way to eat it, spreading the Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Flan on a piece of fresh, crusty bread made for a great impromptu bruschetta. Lastly, the Fried Smelts with Anchovy Aioli were just ok, as the “fishy” flavor overwhelmed to some extent.

The Natural Free Range Chicken entrée, served on a bed of Butternut Squash, Johnny’s Mushrooms, Cous Cous “Mac & Cheese” and Chicken Jus ($26) was the big winner of the evening (and we rarely order chicken!). The French-cut bird was perfectly cooked, crispy skin on the outside but still tender within, and the creamy “cous cous”, which was a mix of all the above ingredients, was both rich and comforting. The other entrée we tried, Local Spinach and Feta Tortellini served in a Spring Garlic Broth with Grated Aged Goat Cheese ($25), offered more subtle flavors but was both light and satisfying. It tasted like Spring in a bowl!

For dessert, we opted for the Liquid Center Butterscotch Cake, served with Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Espresso Dust and a Cocoa Nib “Glass” ($9) — think a butterscotch version of the classic molten chocolate cake. This was a bit too sweet — perhaps a coffee ice cream to replace the vanilla would provide some bitterness to offset the vanilla sweetness — but nonetheless we cleaned the plate.

On another visit, we sampled several of the excellent pizzas for a more casual dinner. Though everything was good, the Butternut Squash pie (Grilled Butternut Squash, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Gorgonzola, Baby Arugula) was out of this world. The sweetness of the squash paired brilliantly with the salty bacon for a unique, wonderful treat.

Bar: We chose to bring our own wine (for a $5 corkage fee), but Sovana does offer a nice selection of wine and beer. The moderately-sized wine list offers reasonably priced bottles ($30-60), though watch out for the single glass prices. For beers, they offer some nice local craft brews, including a couple draft choices from Delaware’s Twin Lakes Brewery.

Ambiance: We’re partial to this kind of place — bustling, modern, and friendly, with lots of wood and natural light. Perhaps not a place for a quiet, romantic evening, but otherwise excellent. They also have some tables outside, both on the side (in a nice garden area) and out front (strip mall parking lot views).

Service: Competent service — nothing outstanding to report.

Value: Hard to say what a meal for two will cost due to the abundant options for meals and drinks, but prices are available on the website. Though the entrée prices can head into the $30s, the food is excellent and likely worth the price. Having a BYOB option, despite the $5 corkage (which is quite reasonable considering the license), is also great. And, if you want to try Sovana without breaking the bank, a meal could quite easily be made of appetizers and pizza.

Cards: Yes
Bar: Yes / BYOW $5
Reservations: OpenTable

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