Byrsa Bistro, Glen Mills, PA – A Review

by artfuldiner on August 7, 2017

in Artful Diner Review, Pennsylvania, Review, Wining and Dining

Byrsa Bistro

128 Glen Mills Road

Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

(610) 444-3277

Byrsa Bistro - Exterior 1Over the meadow and through the woods to… Well, you know the rest. Located in a quaint Victorian dwelling in a bucolically picturesque setting between a babbling trout stream and the historic Glen Mills Train Station, Byrsa Bistro isn’t all that easy to find. In fact, during my initial foray, despite the services of an overly chatting GPS, I still managed to drive by it twice.

Oh, that quaint Victorian dwelling is there all right… Problem is, Byrsa’s presence is nowhere to be seen; as the sign out front clearly announces “The Sporting Gentleman.” But, trust me, just follow the arrow, head down the drive and park your car. Once you disembark, you’ll realize you’re in the right place. For while the Sporting Gentleman occupies the front of the building, Byrsa Bistro has taken up residence in the rear. And following dinner, if you’re so inclined, you can browse through the Gentleman’s fly fishing equipment to your heart’s content.

Byrsa Bistro - Interior 3The interior, reminiscent of a European bistro, is small, intimate, and tastefully appointed. And you will find your host (and, on a slow night, probably your server as well) the soul of hospitality and good cheer. This is a warm and comfortable space; and you’re certain to sense this the moment you cross the threshold.

And the cuisine is just as inviting as the ambiance. Byrsa Bistro features authentic culinary delicacies from such western Mediterranean countries as Morocco, Spain, France, Malta, Italy, and Tunisia – and all are lovingly prepared and attractively presented.

To start things off, the Parsnip-Butternut Squash Soup is simply irresistible. Puréed parsnips and butternut squash are combined with celery root and a touch of light cream consummated with a smattering of toasted almonds. The texture is just right, mouth-filling but not overly heavy on the palate; the flavor is rich but not over-the-top; and the seasonings are delightfully addictive.

Byrsa Bistro - Beet & Almond SaladBut even better, in my opinion, is the spectacular Beet & Almond Salad. Sea salt roasted red and golden beets are combined in an eye-catching pyramid of mixed greens & arugula embellished with toasted almonds and crumbles of creamy goat cheese. The pièce de résistance, however, is the lemon-oil vinaigrette. And the dressing is also judiciously applied. The greenery is coated but not drowned, making each bite an equally rewarding experience.

Byrsa Bistro - Mediterranean SamplerFar and away, however, the appetizer of choice is the delightful, suitable-for-sharing Mediterranean Sampler. The presentation is first-class; and it’s the perfect way to whet your appetite for the exciting presentations to follow. First of all, you have hummus, a zesty conglomeration of mashed chickpeas blended with tahini (sesame seed paste), olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic). In a similar vein is the eggplant caponata, a cooked vegetable salad garnished with capers in a sweet & sour sauce. Other tasty items include spicy carrots, mixed olives, two stuffed grape leaves, marinated cucumbers, fresh mozzarella, and plenty of toasted pita bread triangles for spirited slathering. Not to be missed!

Byrsa Bistro - Lobster RavioliAs you move on to the main courses, variations on the pasta theme – teamed with a variety of meats and seafood – play a major role. So let’s begin with the seafood… The Pappardelle & Salmon is a fabulous combo. The homemade large, broad, flat pasta noodles are teamed with moist & meaty salmon cubes, seasoned with a hint of tarragon, and tossed with a light but assertive tomato sauce. Absolutely first-rate. Equally up to the mark is the Lobster Ravioli (pictured). The fresh-made dumplings are stuffed with succulent chunks of lobster, topped with capers, cherry tomatoes & butternut squash, and then finished with a flavorful white wine sauce.

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Among meatier matters, the Cavatelli & Lamb is a standout. Cavatelli, which literally means “little hollows,” are small pasta shells that resemble miniature hot dog buns. Cavatelli have a firmer texture than most pastas, as they do not contain eggs. And that firm texture blends well with the shredded lamb and crumbles of goat cheese. This is a rich dish. But fresh arugula provides a refreshing textural note; and the lamb demi-glace sauce adds its own incomparable flavor dynamic to the mix.

Byrsa Bistro - Tortellini w Chicken in Pestro Cream SauceThe Cheese Tortellini & Chicken is another savory contender. The fresh made tortellini is adorned with moist shredded chicken, sundried tomatoes, olives, and green peas. A great combo of ingredients… but it’s the pesto cream sauce that provides the pizzazz. If you haven’t already guessed, this dish is extremely rich, rich, rich. And unless you have the peristaltic constitution of a ravening hyena, you’ll be packing up a doggie bag. Never fear, however; this is one entrée that tastes even better heated up the next day, as it gives all those wonderful flavors a chance to coalesce. Just add a little greenery and you have a super leftover lunch and/or dinner.

Byrsa Bistro - BranzinoFor something a bit lighter, you can’t go wrong with the excellent Branzino Fish Filet. The Mediterranean seabass is beautifully pan seared to a moist and flaky consistency, set on a pillow of potato gratin, and finished with a lusciously light lemon sauce. The slightly dry gratin notwithstanding, the presentation is as eye-catching as it is delicious. Other main course possibilities include traditional Paella, Organic Chicken Tagine, and Braised Lamb Shank.

Byrsa Bistro - Tiramisu w CappuccinoAll the entrées are quite satisfying; and it’s a certainly that you won’t leave hungry… But do stick around for dessert. There are only four items offered – a benchmark Baklava, Crème Brûlée, Tiramisu and, occasionally, Chocolate Mousse – and all are worth saving room for (pictured is the tiramisu with cappuccino). The restaurant also serves up potent espresso, as well as coffee/decaf, Moroccan fresh mint tea, and special Turkish coffee.

As noted at the outset, even with a GPS, Byrsa Bistro may be a tad difficult to track down. Once discovered, however, you’ll find that it’s more than worth the spirited game of hide-and-seek. Just don’t forget to BYOB (and a superior vintage is certainly called for).

Bon Appétit!


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