Grapevine Cuisine

84 West Lancaster Avenue

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

(610) 269-1304

Tucked away behind Rita’s Italian Ice at the corner of West Lancaster and Viaduct Avenues, Grapevine Cuisine isn’t all that easy to find – but it is most assuredly worth the effort.

Grapevine Cuisine - InteriorOwned by Dimitrios Papaioannou, and lovingly presided over by members of his family, this charming BYOB eatery is about as authentic as it gets. The traditional Greek meals are made from scratch, the portions are generous to a fault and the prices, given the overall quality of the cuisine, are exceedingly low. Combine this with ultra-personal service and an enchanting Old-World ambiance – the pictures on the website don’t do it proper justice, by the way – and you have a recipe for a homey restaurant that’s rarely found outside of Greece.

Grapevine Cuisine - Veggie SamplerIf you really want to get an idea of what the kitchen can do, the way to start things off is clearly with the incomparable Veggie Sampler (pictured) for two or more. Some of the usual suspects are here – olives, pepperoncini, and stuffed grapes leaves, for example – but the real gems are the not-to-be-missed veggie balls, spanakopita, and an utterly addictive eggplant dip… And those veggie balls, in my opinion, are the star of the show. A mixture of shredded zucchini, spinach and onions, they’re spruced up with a blend of house spices and sided by a special dipping sauce and triangles of pita bread. As an added incentive, those delicious veggie balls may also be reincarnated as a Veggie Burger, companioned by lettuce and tomato on homemade bread.

Other appetizer options include Greek Meatballs made with a combo of house spices and stuffed with feta cheese; Bean Salad, butter beans topped with olive oil, parsley, and chopped onions; and the Unforgettable, sliced baked potatoes topped with butter, three cheeses, and finished in the oven.

Grapevine Cuisine - Greek Salad, LargeOn the other hand, if you have a diminutive appetite, you would do well to consider the fact that all entrées come with either a garden salad or cup of soup of the day. You may also substitute a Greek salad for $1.40 extra or an authentic Greek salad or bowl of soup for an additional $1.80. In case you’re wondering, Greek salad has lettuce; an authentic Greek salad (pictured as an entrée portion) does not. The soup options include a so-so Greek chicken soup and a highly flavorful vegetarian bean soup.

As you move on to the entrées, possibilities abound. There are various renditions of chicken, lamb and pork, as well as several pasta and seafood items, a mixed grille that may be plated for two or four, and a slew of excellent vegetarian dishes.

Grapevine Cuisine - PastitioThe Moussaka, a traditional Greek favorite, incorporates layers of tender eggplant, as well potatoes, crushed tomatoes, ground beef, bechamel sauce and a topping of tomato sauce and grated parmesan. Pastitio (pictured), a variation on the Moussaka theme, hosts many of the same ingredients, but with a pasta foundation. Both are highly recommended… And should you have trouble making up your mind, try the Diplo, the two favorite dishes in one presentation.

Several other eggplant-based arrangements deserve mention. The first is the Papoutsaki, a grilled eggplant that is hollowed out and then stuffed with ground beef & tomato sauce and topped with bechamel & parmesan cheese. But even better, in my opinion, is the Hellenic Eggplant, a tasty vegetarian option, the Greek version of eggplant parmesan. Tender layers of grilled eggplant are slathered with tomato sauce and then crowned with melted feta cheese rather than parmesan.

Grapevine Cuisine - Greek Roast LambThe Greek Roast Lamb, a staple on Mediterranean menus, is excellent here. Strips of boneless leg of lamb are splashed with a natural jus, topped with melted feta, and aided & abetted by a bevy of roasted potatoes. The meat is absolutely fork tender and simple bursting with flavor. If you enjoy lamb, as I do, this is one dish that you will not want to miss.

Desserts, baked up daily by Grapevine’s pastry chef, should not be overlooked.  Possibilities include Rice Pudding made from an old family recipe; Coconut Revani, yellow cake filled and topped with flakes of coconut and syrup; Kourampiedes, Greek cookies covered with powdered sugar; and the Galaktobouriko, filo dough filled with a rich semolina custard.

Grapevine Cuisine - Baklava… But the Baklava should certainly be your first choice. It may not look like much, but the proof of the pudding, as Cervantes so astutely noted, is in the eating. The filo dough is marvelously flaky, the ground walnut filling perfectly textured, and the syrup just sweet enough. Spot-on.

Prices, as I mentioned at the outset, are extremely reasonable. At $35.20, the enormous lamb shank is the most expensive item on the printed menu… but a majority of the entrées are in the mid-teens, topping out in the low- to mid-twenties. Sandwiches all hover around the ten-dollar mark; and there are no desserts over five dollars. Also bear in mind that portions are more than generous, so you’re not likely to go hungry here… And as Mr. Papaioannou points out on the restaurant’s website, although you come in as a customer… by the end of the evening, you’re likely to leave as a friend.

Bon Appétit!



Nicholas - Stolpman Wine DinnerOn Tuesday, February 26, 2019, Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will host a special winemaker dinner with owner Peter Stolpman of Stolpman Vineyards of Santa Barbara, California. The Restaurant Nicholas kitchen will create an exquisite five-course menu to pair with Stolpman’s unique offering of Rhone Varietals.

First Course: Ruby Red Beet Soup, Braised Beef Short Rib, Dill Crème Fraiche; Wine Pairing: 2017 Ballard Canyon, Sauvignon Blanc, Stolpman

Second Course: Drunken Goat Cheese Pierogi, Heirloom Brussels Sprouts, Brown Butter; Wine Pairing: 2018 Ballard Canyon Sangiovese, “Love You Bunches,” Stolpman

Third Course: Golden Tile Fish, Crispy Pork Belly, Chorizo Clam Chowder; Wine Pairing: 2017 Santa Barbara County, Para Maria de Los Tecolotes Red, Stolpman

Fourth Course: Braised Buffalo Short Rib, Heirloom Broccoli, Burn Onion Purée; Wine Pairing: 2016 Ballard Canyon, Syrah Estate, Stolpman

Fifth Course: Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake, Chocolate Pretzel Crunch, Coffee Crunch Ice Cream, Luxardo Cherries

The cost of the Stolpman winemaker dinner is $95.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Byrsa Bistro - Interior 2On Thursday, February 14, 2019, Byrsa Bistro, 128 Glen Mills Road, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, will be serving a special three-course Valentine’s Day menu…

First Course (Choice of) – Mediterranean Petit Sampler: Hummus, Mixed Olives, Stuffed Grape Leaf, Cucumbers, Toasted Pita… Kennett Mushrooms Flatbread: Mixed Kennett Mushrooms, Asiago Cheese, Poached Egg, Black Truffle Oil… Caprese Burrata: Creamy Buratta Cheese, Fresh Tomato Slices, Baby Arugula, Homemade Basil Sauce… Kennett Mushroom Soup: Mix of Four Mushrooms, Croutons, Black Truffle Oil, Parsley… Beet & Almond Salad: Mixed Greens, Arugula, Sea Salt Roasted Beets, Almond, Goat Cheese, Lemon-Oil Vinaigrette… Mandarin Salad: Mixed Greens, Arugula, Fresh Mandarins, Pumpkin Seeds, Blood Orange Cider Vinaigrette

Second Course (Choice of) – Branzino Filet: Pan Seared Mediterranean Sea Bass, Mixed Vegetables, Fresh Fennel & Arugula Coleslaw, Lemon Sauce… Paella: Calamari, Clams, Mussels, Salmon, Shrimp, Olives, Beef Merguez, Chicken, Saffron Rice… Organic Chicken Tagine: Moroccan Style Roasted Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Olives, Cinnamon Golden Raisins, Toasted Almonds… Toulouse Cassoulet: Homemade Beef Meatballs, Short Ribs, Chicken, White Beans, Chickpeas, Vegetables, Toasted Seasoned Breadcrumbs… Seafood Fusilli: Shrimp, Chowder White Fish, Fresh Mussels, Homemade Red Tomato Sauce, Fresh Tarragon… Cavatelli & Lamb: Homemade Pasta, Shredded Lamb, Goat Cheese, Fresh Arugula, Demi-GlazeGnocchi & Bolognese: Homemade Gnocchi, Fresh Tomato Sauce, Prime Ground Beef, Parmesan Cheese, Basil… Chef’s Vegetarian Dish: Two Sautéed Veggie Tartars, Cherry Tomato Confit, Butternut Squash Purée, Fresh Fennel-Apple & Arugula Coleslaw

Third Course (Choice of) – Chocolate MousseEspresso Crème Brûlée Regular Crème BrûléeBread PuddingHazlenut Gelato

The price of the special three-course Valentine’s Day menu is $75.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity), which also includes a complimentary glass of Champagne, wine, or beer. Byrsa Bistro is a BYOB restaurant.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (610) 558-4700.

Bon Appétit!



valentine1On Thursday, February 14, 2019, Avola Kitchen & Bar, 625 North Morehall Road, Malvern, Pennsylvania, will be serving a special three-course menu for couples…

First Course (Choice of) – ½ Dozen Oysters on the Half Shell: Raspberry Ice, Lemon… Eggplant Croquettes: Black Garlic Aioli, Fennel, Parsley, Pickled Raisins… Beet Salad: Roasted Beets, Whipped Goat Cheese, Citrus, Arugula, Pomegranate Seeds, Sherry-Orange Vinaigrette

Second Course (Choice of) – 18 Ounce Rib Eye for Two: Bordelaise, Glazed Root Vegetables… Coq au Vin for Two: Half Chicken, Handmade Pappardelle, Mushrooms… Bronzino for Two: Sautéed Cauliflower, Greens, Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc… Beet Ravioli: Handmade Beet Ravioli, Goat Cheese, Lemon, Basil Pesto… Lentil Stew: Tomato, Fennel, French Lentils, Feta, House-Made Focaccia

Sweets (Choice of) – Ricotta Doughnuts: Strawberries, Citrus Curd, Whipped Cream… Chocolate Crème Brûlée: Candied Rose Petals

The price of the three-course Valentine’s Day menu is $120.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity), which also includes a complimentary glass of Champagne. Á la carte options will also be available.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call Avola at (484) 328-8584.

Bon Appétit!



Valentiine's Day DiningOn Thursday, February 14, 2019, Louette’s BYO, 106 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, will be serving a special four-course Valentine’s Day menu…

First Course (Choice of) – Local Mushroom Bisque: Truffle Butter, Bacon… Hamachi Crudo: Lime, Asian Pear, Habanero… Beet Salad: Warm Parmesan, Blood Orange, Fennel, Baby Kale

Second Course (Choice of) – Lobster Ravioli: Fines Herbes, Bitter Greens, Saffron… Foie Gras Parfait: Granola, Pomegranate, Whipped Crème Fraiche, Tart Cherry… Burgundy Escargot: Congee, Parsley, Garlic, Lemon

Third Course (Choice of) – Slow Roasted Filet Mignon: Garlic-Chive Potato Purée, Shallot, Shiitake Mushroom Relish… Olive Oil Poached Atlantic Salmon: Herbed Spaetzle, Sweet Onion Broth, Gremolata… Giannone Chicken Roulade: Broccolini, Fermented Cabbage, Caraway, Rye

Fourth Course – Cheese Plate: Jalapeño Jam, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Apricot, Rosemary Bread… Molten Chocolate Cake: Red Velvet Crumble, Lemon Curd… Tiramisu: Shaved Chocolate, Kumquat, Sabayon

The price of the four-course Valentine’s Day menu is $85.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (484) 924-9906.

Bon Appétit!



Frog and Peach3On Valentine’s Weekend, Thursday, February 14 – Saturday, February 16, 2019, the Frog and the Peach, 29 Dennis Street at Hiram Square,  New Brunswick, New Jersey, will be serving a special romantic three-course menu…

Amuse – Whipped Camemert: Dried Cherries, Truffle Honey

Appetizers (Choice of) – Bibb Lettuce and Arugula Salad: Gaeta Olive, Pignoli, Sun-Dried Tomato, Ricotta Salata, Dijon Vinaigrette… Bouillabaisse Soup: Marinated Mussels, Rouille Crostini… Fishers Island Oysters: Green Apple, Vodka Mignonette… Black Truffle Ricota Gnocchi: Hen-of-the-Wood Mushrooms, Leeks, Pine Nuts, Sage… Crispy Duck Confit: Lentils du Puy, Mâche, Sweet Onion, Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette… Jumbo Lump Crab Salad: Edamame, Pickled Mushroom, Old Bay Sushi Rice… Buttermilk Biscuit Tartine: Fromage Blanc, Poached Egg, Shaved Country Ham

Entrées (Choice of) – Blackened Line Caught Tuna: Butternut Squash, Nori, 25-Year Balsamic Vinegar… Pan Roasted Day-Boat Jersey Monkfish: Lobster Hash, Brown Butter Sauce… Vegetable Spring Rolls: Green Papaya-Peanut Salad, Soy Mustard Sauce… Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto: Braised Leeks, Goat Cheese… Pan Roasted Griggstown Chicken Breast: Pumpkin Grits, Braised Endive, Sherry-Brown Butter Vinaigrette… Braised Lamb Shank: Mint Tabbouleh, Garlic Naan, Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus… Beef Tenderloin: Sunchoke Purée, Haricot Vert, Green Peppercorn Cognac Sauce ($8.00 Supplement)

Dessert (Choice of) – Valrhona Chocolate Molten Cake: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream… Classic Crème BrûléeMascarpone Cheesecake Semifreddo: Honey, Pistachio, Dates… Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake: Salted Caramel Peanut, Popcorn Ice Cream… Trio of Sorbet: Almond Raspberry, Pomegranate, Strawberry Vanilla… Three Cheese Board: Cracked Wheat Crostini, Garnishes ($5.00 Supplement)

Valentine’s Day, 2/14, three-course menu $88.00 per person; Friday & Saturday, 2/15 & 2/16, three-course menu $63.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity).  The regular menu will not be available on Valentine’s weekend.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 846-3216.

Bon Appétit!



Valentine’s Day Dining at Washington House

by artfuldiner on February 2, 2019

in Uncategorized

Washington House - Dining RoomOn Thursday, February 14, 2019, the Washington House Hotel & Restaurant, 136 North Main Street, Sellersville, Pennsylvania, will be serving a fanciful four-course menu to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Appetizers (Choice of) – Oysters Rockefeller: Spinach, Pancetta, Fennel Cream… Salmon Pastrami: Pumpernickel Toast, Avocado, Horseradish… Baked Brie with Frisée: Roasted Pear, Almonds… New England Clam Chowder: Fresh Chives, Oyster Crackers… Red Wine Arancini: Pickled Wild Mushroom, Garlic Aioli

Salad – Spinach Salad: Arugula, Feta Cheese, Grilled Red Onion, Candied Pecans, Strawberries, Champagne Vinaigrette

Entrées (Choice of) – Cedar Plank Baked Salmon: Basmati Rice, Asparagus, Mushroom & Bok Choy Sauté, Honey Sriracha Glaze… Pan Seared Scallops: Butternut Squash Risotto, Cauliflower, Apple Chutney… Lamb Bolognese: Pappardelle Pasta, Mascarpone, Mint… Jumbo Lump Crab & Shrimp Cakes: Orange Tartar Sauce… Roasted Lancaster Free Range Chicken: Roasted New Potatoes, Arugula Pesto, Chicken JusDuo of Beef: Petite Filet & Red Wine Braised Short Rib, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, French Beans, Horseradish Butter… Seared Tuna Loin: Parsnips, Citrus Fennel Salad, Cranberry Mustarda… Grilled Lamb Chops: Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Mustard JusSurf & Turf: Petite Filet & Crab Cake, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, French Beans, Blood Orange Béarnaise… Sweet Potato Tortellini: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sage, Cranberry, Brown Butter

Dessert Sampler: Brownie Bites, Berry Tart, Carrot Cupcake, Pomegranate Truffle

The cost of the Valentine’s Day menu is $55.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). Please note that the à la carte & children’s menu will not be available.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call Washington House Hotel & Restaurant, (215) 257-3000.

Bon Appétit!



Valentiine's Day DiningOn Thursday, February 14, 2019, Restaurant Alba in Malvern, Pennsylvania, will celebrate Valentine’s Day by serving a traditional four-course Italian tasting menu from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Antipasto (served family style to all): Crostini of Crab, Toasted Garlic, Meyer Lemon Butter… Truffled Arancini, Parmesan Fonduta… Seared Ahi Tuna, Smashed Avocado… Deviled Egg

Primi (Choose One): Lobster Bisque, Brioche Crouton, Chervil… Potato Gnocchi, Gorgonzola Crema… Risotto, Kabocha Squash, Duck Confit… Veal Sweetbread & Porcini Mushroom Ravioli, Rosemary, Pear Mostarda, Natural Jus… Garganelli, Beef Bolognese, Parmigiano Reggiano

Secondi (Choose One): Pan Roasted Skuna Bay Salmon, Parsnip Purée, Blood Orange & Campari Vinaigrette… Grilled Trout Filet, Butter Roasted Hazelnuts, Escarole, Pears… Surf & Leaf of Braised Beef Short Rib & Lobster, Celery Root, Tangerine Butter… Wood Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Foie Gras Butter, Potato Purée, Swiss Chard… Grilled Lamb Tenderloin, Whipped Ricotta, Dried Olive, Brussels Sprouts… Overnight Braised Pork, Umbrian Lentil, Apple & Fennel Salad

Dolci: Artisanal Cheese and Accompaniment… Chocolate Lava Cake, Soft Whipped Cream… Passion Fruit Cheesecake… Warm Bread Pudding, Vanilla Gelato… Butterscotch Bundino, Caramel Sauce, Sea Salt… Zerogradi Gelato or Sorbet

The price of the Valentine’s Day Italian tasting menu is $80.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call Restaurant Alba, (610) 644-4009.

Bon Appétit!



Valentiine's Day DiningDomaine Jean-Luc Colombo 2016 Le Pavillon des Courtisanes Cairanne: Jean-Luc Colombo is one of France’s most talented and creative winemakers. Since the early 1980s, he has been crafting first-class wines from the northern Rhône Valley and southern France. His wines are very different from those of old school winemakers. His philosophy has been to produce fruit forward and elegant wines that are both pure in flavor and expressive of their terroir. His approach has ruffled some feathers; and he often jokes that he’s a bit of a Rhône outcast since he relies on modern techniques in one of France’s most traditional wine regions.

On the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine where the Rhône would be without his commanding presence, as he was among the first group of winemakers to travel outside the area, not only to aggressively market his own wines, but also to tell the story of the entire region.

Colombo, Jean-LucA native of Marseille, Mr. Colombo grew up in a kitchen environment – both his mother and grandmother were chefs – where he developed his passion for food and wine. In the mid-1970s, while studying to become a pharmacist, which proved to be a short-lived career, he developed an interest in oenology and turned his interest and energies entirely to winemaking. In 1986, he purchased 247-acres of vineyards in the Cornas region. From that humble beginning, he now makes his small-production cuvées, as well as a range of other wines reaching down to the Côtes du Rhône.

Mr. Colombo’s 2016 Le Pavillon des Courtisanes Cairanne, which received 91 points (100-point scale) from the Wine Spectator, is a red Rhône blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. It’s loaded with ripe black fruit and beguiles the palate with its soft, silky tannins. This is a wine that’s not too heavy… not too light… and that goes down smooth and easy. It’s marvelous au naturel; but it also pairs well with a wide variety of foods… so it’s the perfect match for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. Priced at $19.99, this excellent vintage is also available through Pennsylvania State Stores.


Rotie Cellars Southern Blend 2013Rôtie Cellars 2013 Southern Blend: The wine label strikes one as definitively French… but this distinctive Rhône blend – 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre – surprise, surprise, was produced in Walla, Walla region of Washington State.

Since 2007, winemaker and owner Sean Boyd’s goal has been to produce traditional Rhône blends in Washington State. His winemaking philosophy is simple – combine old world winemaking techniques with the highest quality Rhône varietals that Washington State has to offer. Mr. Boyd sources from some of the best and oldest vineyards in the state in an effort to showcase the most elegant blend possible, while ensuring the typicity of the fruit is expressed.

Originally from Tacoma, like many winemakers, Mr. Boyd took a rather intriguing path to Rôtie Cellars… Previously working as a geologist for ten years in oil and gas exploration, he participated in his first harvest at Waters Winery in 2004. He began his own winery in 2007, focusing solely on Rhône varietals. And his non-traditional background proved to be a great asset, as this is one winemaker who really knows his soils.

Rotie Cellars - Sean Boyd, Owner, WinemakerMr. Boyd is convinced that there is no right or wrong way to create or consume wine… He just makes what he loves to drink – French style Rhône blends. His philosophical approach is basically Old World and natural. He believes that great wine happens mostly in the vineyard, and that his main job is to stay out of nature’s way.

The Rôtie Cellars 2013 Southern Blend, which recently received 92 and 91 points, respectively, from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and the Wine Enthusiast, is certainly delightfully delicious corroboration of Mr. Boyd’s prowess as a winemaker. The Wine Advocate described the 2013 vintage as “savory, medium to full-bodied, supple and beautifully made.” Like its French cousin noted above, this is a wine that’s as smooth as silk on the palate and easily paired with a variety of culinary combinations. Another great choice for your Valentine’s Day table.

That being said… its most pleasing attribute may well be its incredible price point. This wine normally retails around the $45.00 mark. However, as a “Chairman’s Selection,” it is currently on sale through various PA State Stores for a paltry $19.99.




Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar - Glen MillsVarious locations of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar will be celebrating their special Restaurant Week” from Sunday, January 20 – Friday, January 25, 2019. The special restaurant week menu will feature a three-course $20.00 lunch and four-course $35.00 dinner (plus tax & gratuity).

Lunch Menu…

First Course (Choice of): Local Butternut Squash Soup… Three Bean Turkey Chili… Small Modern Greek Salad… Small Winter Salad

Second Course (Choice of): Grilled Chicken Sandwich… Salmon BLT… Portobello “Cheesesteak”… Winter Ramen Noodle Bowl

Third Course (Choice of): Any Seasonally-Inspired Dessert


Dinner Menu…

First Course (Choice of): Short Rib & Mushroom Flatbread… Seasonal Organic Hummus… Korean BBA Chicken Lettuce Wraps… Everything-Spiced Edamame

Second Course (Choice of): Local Butternut Squash Soup… Small Modern Greek Salad… Small Winter Salad

Third Course (Choice of): Cedar Roasted Salmon… Sesame Chicken… Braised Short Ribs… Sesame Seared Tuna… Impossible Vegetarian Meatloaf

Fourth Course (Choice of): Any Seasonally-Inspired Dessert

Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar locations include Glen Mills, North Wales, Radnor, Newtown, Lancaster, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Moorestown, New Jersey; and Delray Beach, Florida.

 Bon Appétit!