2021 Restaurant Redux – Part 1

by artfuldiner on December 14, 2021

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wining and Dining

For your dining pleasure, listed below in alphabetical order are synopses of six (6) of the eleven (11) restaurants reviewed during the year 2021.

Antica - Interior 2ANTICA ITALIAN RESTAURANT (February), 1623 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, (484) 770-8631, http://www.anticapa.com: Owned by chefs Josh Friedberg and Gent Mema, also proprietors of the popular Il Granaio restaurants in Glen Mills and Phoenixville, Antica’s three light & airy dining areas come replete with soothing colorations, a rustic stone wall, and framed prints by Andrew Wyeth, Chadds Ford’s favorite artistic son. Originally a BYOB, the restaurant now sports a liquor license, offering its patrons a compact selection of wines by the glass and bottle, brews, and an interesting inventory of specialty cocktails. Entrées include a combo of old-fashioned Italian comfort fare – such as Veal Parmigiana and Pasta Pomodoro – as well as piscatorial pleasures like Sautéed Salmon and Grilled Whole Bronzino. Homemade desserts include favorites like Cannoli, Tiramisu, and Bundino di Pane, the Italian version of bread pudding. For my money, however, nothing quite tops the considerable charms of the kitchen’s luscious Lemon Cream Cake.

Awful Arthurs - ExteriorAWFUL ARTHUR’S SEAFOOD COMPANY (September), 402 South Talbot Street, St. Michaels, Maryland, (410) 745-3474, https://awfularthursusa.com: Visited while staying at the Inn at Perry Cabin on Maryland’s Eastern Shore (see separate review), Awful Arthur’s is a super casual eatery featuring indoor/outdoor seating and a bustling authentic oyster bar that serves up more than nine varieties of oysters, as well as clams, shrimp, mussels, crab legs, crawfish, and their famous steamed  seafood platter. Whatever your piscatorial preference, you will undoubtedly find it here. Starters tempt the palate with the likes of Blackened Tuna Bites, Day Boat Scallops wrapped in bacon, Shrimp & Grits, and the incredibly rich Lobster Mac & Cheese. Entrée-wise, try the first-rate Fish & Chips and Lobster Roll. Desserts – all made in-house – are on the homey side but well worth saving room for… If you’re a seafood lover, and happen to be visiting St. Michael’s, Awful Arthur’s is the place to go.

Bas Rouge - Dover SoleBAS ROUGE (September), 19 Federal Street, Easton, Maryland, (6410) 822-1637, http://www.basrougeeaston.com/: The flagship of New York energy mogul Paul Prager’s BluePoint Hospitality Group, Bas Rouge isn’t the kind of restaurant you expect to find in Easton, a sleepy little burg on Maryland’s Eastern Shore… This is Old World dining at its most gracious. The décor is reminiscent of a grand 19th century Austrian bistro. Executive Chef Harley Peet and Chef de Cuisine Phil Lind present a stylish & innovative take on Viennese & European classic dishes… and their presentations are nothing short of extraordinary. Currently entrées run the gamut from Wild Turbot to Pappardelle with braised duck ragu to Chicken Ballotine to Veal Roulade with parsnip purée, shaved Brussels sprouts, and truffle jus.

The night of our visit, it was Dover Sole (pictured) that was presented rolled, gently sautéed with herbed emulsified melted butter, crowned with pickled vegetables & toasted hazelnuts, and surrounded by potato and green asparagus purées – and it was simply spectacular. Desserts, courtesy of pastry chef Jim Hutchinson, continue the kitchen’s excellent work. Dining here is not an inexpensive proposition. But, trust me, it is an incredibly satisfying experience – and then some. Worth a journey.

Baxter's - SundaeBAXTER’S AMERICAN GRILLE (May), 14 Paoli Shopping Center, Paoli, Pennsylvania, (610) 296-2699, http://www.baxtersinpaoli.com/: Tucked away in the Paoli Shopping Center, Baxter’s is a neighborhood happy-tappy cum sports bar serving up an eclectic mix of comfort fare, pub grub, classic sandwiches, and a limited number of entrées. One glance will tell you that this place isn’t exactly the Ritz… but neither is it pretending to be. On the other hand, if you’re in the mood for a burger, brew, or just some laid back comfort fare, it’s definitely a place to consider. After all, man doesn’t live by fie gras alone. Like restaurants of similar ilk, the dishes Baxter’s does best are those that require the least amount of creative fuss. “Classic Sandwiches” are usually a good bet. The Traditional Turkey Club is quite good… ditto the Classic Bacon Cheeseburger. The Fish & Chips and Home-Style Meatloaf, on the other hand, proved to be disappointments. Of the dessert choices, which round up the usual suspects, the Brownie Sundae (pictured) is clearly the way to go. Very old-fashioned… but also very good, very rich, and very suitable for sharing.

Blue Elephant - InteriorBLUE ELEPHANT (October), 152 East High Street, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, (484) 949-9084, https://www.blueelephantbar.com: Ensconced in the stately bank building at the corner of High and Hanover Streets, the Blue Elephant is the newest entry in the Wine Signature stable, a restaurant group owned by Win and Sutida Somboonsong. The creation of the Pottstown restaurant, however, was completely overseen by the couple’s daughter, a graduate of Cornell University’s hospitality program. The restaurant’s interior is striking – high ceiling accentuated with long draperies, gold mirrors, various forms of greenery, 30-foot-long quartz bar, series of comfortable velvet & leather booths, and flowing marble fountain – the cuisine less so.

Appetizers such as Rock Shrimp in crispy tempura batter, Dumplings, and Zucchini Fritters seasoned with Japanese spices are a high point. Entrées, on the other hand, are generally disappointing. Even traditional Thai favorites such as Drunken Noodles and Crab Fried Rice fail to deliver the goods.

Indeblue - Spinach ChaatINDEBLUE (August), 205 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (215) 545-4633, http://www.indebluerestaurant.com: Indeblue made its debut in Midtown Village in 2013 – and has been wowing palates ever since. Not only is it Philadelphia’s top-rated Indian restaurant, it is also one of the top-10-rated Indian restaurants in the United States. What chef/owner Rakesh Ramola does best is artfully mix and match traditional flavors with dishes that push the Indian envelope… And push the envelope he does. Consider his extraordinary Spinach Chaat (pictured) as Exhibit A. Crispy fried spinach is teamed with shallots & chopped tomatoes and finished with an irresistible combo of sweet yogurt and tamarind chutney. The result is an app that is so incredibly delicious and texturally appealing that it is simply off the charts. Entrées include such intriguing possibilities as Seafood Coconut Rasam, a South Indian soup with an addictive spicy-sweet-sour stock utilizing coconut & mint; Catani, chunks of boneless chicken breast swimming in a lusciously creamy sauce of basil, tomato, and garlic; and Baigan Rasedar, an appetizing casserole of eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, and Rai, a Hindu spice made with black mustard seeds. Desserts, such as Pumpkin Ice Cream with Crumble, Coconut Gulab Jamun, and Caramelized Mango Kheer are not to be missed… ditto the array of innovative cocktails. So be sure to try the Indebluetini, composed of citrus, vodka, mango, cardamom, and lemon or the Maharani, offering vodka, rosewater Cointreau, lemon, and orange peel.

 Bon Appétit!

Be Safe & Stay Well


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: