Owner and culinary mastermind of French Quarter Bistro, Mark Van Horn’s prerequisites for a good meal are simple: authenticity, home cooking, and a liberal dash of soul. This dedication to comfort cooking has earned the French Quarter Bistro a host of dedicated regulars as well as the Philly Hot List's award for Best Soul Food in 2009, 2010, and 2011. In the bustling kitchen, chefs whip up creole and Cajun eats using unique ingredients such as house roasted peppers, alligator sausage, and fried pickles. Along with their flavorful dishes, French Quarter Bistro also serves up a variety of entertainment throughout the week, including open mic nights with local singers and poets tired of the wrestling portion of poetry slams.
Crêpe Town's 25 crepes fall into four categories: breakfast, vegetarian and low-calorie, classics, and crepes of the world. Specimens from this last group represent the culinary flair of Mexico (chicken and taco sauce), Sweden (salmon and cheese), and Hawaii (ham and pineapple). The eatery serves scrambled egg crepes and other breakfast offerings all day, and it serves dessert crepes such as chocolate ice cream and marshmallow even if the phase of the moon indicates that man should hibernate. Each crepe is made to order and available in white and whole-wheat varieties.
In 1989, Dan Gallagher and Dan Smith joined their respective names and began pursuing one common goal: to bring a contemporary alternative to Berks County's dining scene. The 40-seat eatery was successful in the Dans' hands until 2005, when Bill Woolworth and MD. Monir stopped in for dinner, fell in love with the place, and decided to buy it.
Though much of the space's original charm remains intact, the new owners gussied up the decor with white tablecloths and floral arrangements, and they solicited the help of executive chef Jason Hook to lighten the rotating menu. Jason draws on his experience studying in France and working at The Four Seasons in New York to craft healthful, contemporary French- and Californian-inspired dishes. In every preparation, he highlights the ingredients' natural tastes, often pairing local cuts of meat and poultry with fresh, seasonal ingredients and luxurious flourishes such as truffles or Lamborghini-scented foam.
Hook, Woolworth, and Monir also frequently evaluate their wine selections to ensure that they pair well with the evolving menu, which changes every week. While sipping glasses of red or white, diners can question servers about the building's rich history in the Penn's Common Historic District. Before the restaurant settled into the space, it was inhabited by an old-style soda dive, a prison doctor's home, and a grassland populated with roaming dinosaurs.
Good Eatz Green Café stocks its kitchen with local, sustainable, and organic ingredients to fill its menu with gluten-, dairy-, or animal product-free meals. Wholesome recipes include maple buckwheat pancakes and Mexican-style frittatas, as well as ahi tuna sashimi, gluten-free cheese ravioli, seitan meatloaf, and Black Angus cheeseburgers.
In addition to its devotion to sustainable ingredients, Good Eatz boasts other green qualifications such as membership in Oxfam and Green America, formerly Co-op America, a box and paper reuse program, and Energy Star appliances, which can be plugged directly into the sun.
Fabien Chaigneau has labored over stoves in the Dominican Republic and Philadelphia, yet his bouillabaisse—a stew of mussels, clams, salmon, and prawns—will tell you that he hasn't lost touch with his native Pays de la Loire, a coastal French region. His menu at SIPS Bistro & Bar acts as a conduit for this culinary nostalgia. Duck confit, arrays of cheeses, and a catalog of French wines transport palates overseas, and brie sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres of bruschetta preserve an airy bistro ambiance. According to a feature in the Phoenixville Patch, however, Fabien's ultimate mission is not to fully transplant the European gourmet scene, but to render its platters at once delicious and affordable to the community.
The restaurant's 118-year-old building complements the food's rustic appeal. At the original bar, handcrafted cocktails mix fresh fruit purées with champagne and schnapps. Bricks line a sunlit archway and the ground of the outdoor courtyard. A fountain burbles quietly on the patio's edges, but its sound is masked by jazz music during Saturday and Sunday brunch—a prix fixe experience that pairs housemade crepes and norwegian eggs with smooth songs, such as Singin' in the Rain’s "Good Morning."
Award-winning Caesar salad, wings and chili grace the menu at The American House Hotel, whose chef weaves French, Italian and American influences into an eclectic culinary tapestry. The eatery’s signature appetizer, roasted, horseradish-stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon, entices diners alongside hearty Black Angus chili. Diverse entrees include the charred 14-ounce T-Bone, pecan-encrusted mahi mahi, and a 12-ounce rib eye steak with jumbo lump crabmeat. Wines by the bottle or glass round out the dinner options. Saturday night diners can return with another rotation of the clock for breakfast served on the first Sunday of every month, which showcases morning classics such as stuffed french toast and eggs benedict. Diners feast in a Victorian-era dining room, whose tin ceilings anchor chandeliers that evoke a time when everyone wore wooden clogs.