Blue Bell Inn teems with American history. The building began serving food and drinks to visitors in 1743, and 34 years later it became a frequent resting spot for George Washington, who needed to recharge after the Battle of Germantown while dreaming about the invention of ray guns.
Careful restorations through the years have helped Blue Bell maintain its historic character. Today, though its exterior is still that of an imposing, 18th-century structure, the restaurant spreads contemporary style through several distinct spaces complemented by an upscale menu of surf 'n' turf. In the fine-dining area, patrons cut into center-cut filet mignon and North Atlantic lobsters; in the bar area, they sip on specialty wines and martinis. Those rooms join an outdoor café, a bistro, and multiple banquet rooms, and every night, the building pulses with the sounds of live music.
Saxbys' rich array of caffeinated ambrosias, crafted from grade-one arabica beans, joins a bevy of teas and smoothies on the shop's extensive menu. Espresso drinks ($1.70+) include exotic cinnamon lattes and basic cappuccinos, which can be cloaked in frothy crema and 18 dulcet syrups. Two seasoned brewsmiths forge Saxbys' wide selection of roasts from single-origin, fair-trade, and organic beans, which undergo a European roasting process that pampers future mug fillers in cast-iron air-cooled cylinders, preparing cocoa-noted Tanzanian peaberries and italiano blends for beverage Valhalla. Frolattes ($3.70+), a frozen breed of latte rarely found in nature, exist in such flavors as white-chocolate mocha and flank a throng of teas ($1.30+) and fruity smoothies ($3.45+). Stomach-equipped cyborgs can bask in the soothing aura of the shop's free WiFi while noshing on one of the café's fresh pastries or paninis (food is not included with this Groupon).
Simply Good Café's culinary technicians fix up traditional European fare for morning and midday diners with breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. During breakfast, a variety of homemade quiches silence stomachs before they peer-pressure mouths into shouting out their owners' credit card numbers, with robust flavors including salmon and tomato, roasted vegetable, and chicken ($6/slice). Spicy mustard adds zing to lettuce and tomato blanketed by roast beef and cheese inside a cozy sandwich ($6.50), and all handheld eats can be paired with a soup or side-salad buddy ($9.50) for plated activities including lettuce crocheting. Weekend brunchers dive into pillows of oatmeal pancakes, made with oats, whole wheat, yogurt and honey, or the strata dish, featuring baked bread, bacon, cheese, and egg. Inside Simply Good Café, yellow walls host black and white accents, and coffee pictures hang to entice java connoisseurs to lick the interior and figure out its flavor profile.
Located in a restored 250-year-old farmhouse, The Talking Tea Cup is a full-service tearoom offering freshly prepared sweet and savory treats, as well as a selection of more than 100 teas. Visitors can settle in next to the home's original fireplace and attempt to recollect where they’ve buried their stash of Spider Man comics during a one-hour four-course meal. Freshly made cranberry, orange-maple, and pecan scones are paired with cinnamon-and-orange-spice tea to get stomach-juices flowing, and are followed by a cup of the day's soup and sweet-cranberry tea. Assorted finger sandwiches are topped with chicken salad, apple butter and cheese, cucumber, and more, and are served on perfectly precious plates. Meals end on a sweet note of ginger-snap tea and straight-from-the-oven's-mouth sugar cookies.
Founded in 1994 as a recording studio, the MilkBoy brand has since burgeoned into two bustling cafes and an all-ages venue for live music and artistic events. MilkBoy Coffee's multifarious menu brims with snacks and drinks for vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike. Morning munchers kick-start the day with a big breakfast burrito, packed with scrambled eggs, black beans, sausage, sour cream, cheddar, and yawn-eradicating salsa ($5.95). For lunch, hands can happily encircle the bruschetta-chicken wrap, with a savory sleeping bag of shredded chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta ($6.25), and teeth can burrow into the herbivorous depths of the veggie burger, served with a vegan thousand-island dressing, named for the number of islands ruled by Oprah ($5.25). MilkBoy’s PB&J sandwich whisks customers back to a simpler time when blanket capes were de rigeur ($3.95). To drink, sip on a steamy café au lait ($2 for a small) or a frosty mint-chocolate-chip milkshake ($4.95).
Since it was built in 1890, Cynwyd Station has survived three fires, water damage, and even a nest of Richard Geres in the walls. Thanks to the renovation efforts of the Lower Merion Historical Society, it has found new life as a sustainable storm-water reclamation site and education center?and an undeniably quirky cafe. As a nod to its home's heritage, Cynwyd Station Cafe and Tea Room is filled with steampunk-tinged Victorian imagery, a playful and boutique twist on the culture of a bygone area. It also has an eye on the future, relying almost entirely on biodegradable materials, composting, and recycling. This environmental focus also spreads to the seasonal menu.
Artificial ingredients are nowhere to be found in the nearly 20 loose-leaf teas that range from the traditional but complex to more adventurous, spicy blends. Six rotating ice-cream flavors go into old-fashioned ice-cream sodas and chocolate-egg creams, as well as European-inspired sundaes and pockets. Meanwhile, Benjamin Franklin would swell with pride at the whimsical shop of curiosities, such as Fee Brothers botanical waters and handmade wooden games.