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WINTER 2020

Cold Weather Favorites Pastas and pies, stews and soups (like this FRENCH ONION SOUP from PIETRO’S PRIME), plus more good food news inside...

OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN a quick road trip to RIGHTEOUS TAP HOUSE

IN THE KITCHEN Take a look behind the scenes at SPLIT RAIL TAVERN

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS The most important meal of the day can also be the most delcious way to begin it... if you start at MARKET STREET GRILL

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Back of House

STAFF PUBLISHER Dan Mathers dan@tastewestchester.com

ADVERTISING MANAGER Nick Vecchio nick@tastewestchester.com

MANAGING EDITOR Kate Chadwick kchadwick@tastewestchester.com

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER & STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Erik Weber erik@tastewestchester.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Nazarena Luzzi Castro nazarenaluzzi.com Produced in Partnership with

www.downtownwestchester.com

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” Orson Welles

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Becca Boyd homebeccanomics.com Andrea Mason andreamasondesign.com Jesse Piersol jessepiersol@gmail.com Kanan Gole kanan.gole@gmail.comj Published By... The WC PRESS & Mathers productions, LLC 24 W Market St, Ste 4 West Chester, PA 19382 mathersproductions.com 610-344-3463 TASTE West Chester is distributed free of charge to more than 250 businesses in West Chester, PA. To find out more, visit our website at tastewestchester.com

Today’s Menu 9 #TASTEWC Our favorite social media posts from fans are getting printed BREWING 11 WHAT’S A chat with the borough’s brightest baristas about the art of coffee OF CHAMPIONS 13 BREAKFAST The most important meal of the day and a delcious way to start it THE KITCHEN 14 IN A view behind the scenes at West Chester’s dining desinations THE BAR 25 BEHIND Discussing life behind bars with the borough’s best-know faces A SLICE 27 SAVOR There’s no such thing as bad pizza, but some are better than others SEASON 28 IN Cold weather fare around town RELIEF 38 SWEET We all deserve a delicious treat from time to time FRY 41 SMALL Suggestions on dining out with the young ones in tow A ROLL 43 ON Sampling the best foods served between slices of bread OF TOWN 44 OUTSKIRTS A trip to an area eatery beyond the borders of the borough & FUNCTION 53 FORM Exploring the design concepts of our borough’s best kitchens

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Introducting TASTE Understanding the new, exciting product you hold in your hands.

W

elcome to Taste West Chester, the food-only media company launched by The WC Press. We teased this project last August when we printed that month’s copy of The WC Press with a different logo on the cover and a smattering of new features inside. It was a test run that went better than expected, so we doubled down and what you’re holding now is something entirely new. Hopefully it feels familiar, but we’re confident when you flip through these pages, the changes will be obvious. Three times this year — now, in April and in August — we’ll be publishing this magazine, and you can expect every issue to be jam-packed with good food news. We’ll keep you apprised of the people and places that are influencing this town’s foodie scene, and we’ll introduce you to all of our favorite dishes. This is the new home for our bartender features, and you’ll also get to meet a local barista in every issue, too. Each magazine will feature a different breakfast, lunch and dinner spot, as well as Sweet Relief, our simplified focus on dessert. Add to that a behind the scenes look at area kitchens, our pizza review piece, and a host of other columns focused on everything from dining design to eating out with kids... there’s simply too much content to list here. While we clearly believe in the power of print, this project is firmly rooted in the digital world. You’ll only be able to snag a new copy of the magazine three times a year, but our website will be constantly updating with all kinds of info about what’s going on in the culinary world. You’ll find all the features covered in these pages and more at tastewestchester.com. As a product of the times, Taste also has a strong social media influence. Since announcing the project this past summer, we’ve been building our online following thanks to the hard work put in by Erik Weber (@westchesterviews). Erik’s joined our team to oversee social media and to supply all the beautiful images you’ll find in this issue. Over the course of three months @tastewc has amassed more than 2,500 followers on Instagram alone, allowing all the content we produce to access a wider audience than print could ever manage independently. Each image reaches thousands and triggers hundreds of engagements, offering downtown restaurants a new opportunity to connect with locals who love all things edible. We’ve only been able to make these investments thanks to the support of the West Chester Business Improvement District (@downtownwestchester). Their assistance has allowed us to fund and develop a new enterprise that we’re confident will build business in the borough and draw attention to destination downtown. Their forward-thinking approach to marketing our town is instrumental in its growth. Needless to say, we’re excited about this project and the potential it holds. West Chester is a food-lover’s paradise, and it’s been years since there was a local publication that acknowledged and promoted that fact. We hope you enjoy this first issue and that you take a second to check in with us online (@tastewc) to keep up on all the good food news West Chester has to offer. —dan@tastewestchester.com PUBLISHED BY THE WC PRESS

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Like and follow us on social media, then tag us in your posts for a chance get your work published here. Our favorite image each month (ď‚Ť) will earn its photographer a gift card to @barnabyswc.

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What’s Brewing Len Mojzes with

A caffeinated chat with one of the borough’s best baristas about the art of coffee. What’s the origin story of The Gryphon Cafe? My business partner Rich Mattis started The Gryphon in Wayne back in 1996. I joined as his manager in 1998 and worked with him for years. Eventually I moved on to help open other shops, but when Rich started to expand — roasting his own, opening other locations — I came back. We partnered to open in Rosemont in... maybe 2012 or 2013? We closed that location to open in West Chester. Why West Chester? Because I’m from West Chester; I went to Henderson, grew up in town and lived in Westtown the majority of my life — I’m still in the area. Since 1998 I’ve wanted to put a Gryphon in West Chester. We looked and looked for years and couldn’t find a spot that was right, but we finally did.

What differentiates you? We’re more of a traditional European cafe. It’s a comesit-for-a-while place. Plus, we make most of our own recipes, from syrups, to sauces, to food. We try to be a community space. Plus, the coffee’s not bad... And we have a really good coffee! Rich is the main roaster, and he’s excellent. He sources amazing coffees, and we spend a lot of time getting them just right. How do you choose? We try to have a direct trade with our farms. Coffee is a crop, and every season it’s changing, and every season it could be a different flavor profile, so we’re always trying different coffees to see what will be best for us. A lot of it is about picking profiles that will make for a good blend, whether our breakfast blend, espresso blend, or any of the coffees we sell to other people. We need some to bring out the chocolatey notes, some the nutty notes, then maybe a cherry or raspberry flavor to make it all balance out. Do different flavor profiles lend themselves to different methods of brewing? Some coffees are great for drip — you just want a classic, good cup of coffee. Some might be more acidic and have fruit flavors that might not be what drip drinkers want.

What would you do with the more acidic coffees? Pour over is a great option for exciting coffees. With a pour over, you get a cleaner, smoother cup and flavors can really stand out. So, one of our African coffees, say: it’ll have a lot of stuff going on, and with drip, they might end up muted. What makes for a great espresso? That can change; you can have different tasting great espressos. You want as balanced a cup as you can get because you get the most intense flavors. If you’ve only got a couple peak flavors, it’ll be too bitey — you need a nice balance of chocolatey, nutty and fruity, and it needs to stand up to whatever milk you might add. Besides flavor profiles, what do you focus on? We’re not strictly organic or fair trade, but we try to leave as little of a carbon footprint as possible, to use organic and local whenever we can. That applies to the business as a whole — it’s important to be part of the community. It doesn’t matter where we put a gryphon, we want to reflect that community. photo ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews interview DAN @thewcpress

MATHERS

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Breakfast of Champions The most important meal of the day can also be the most delcious way to start it. The West Chester food scene is ever-evolving, and although it continues to change with the trends, it’s beloved as much for being fresh as it is for the establishments that have steadily thrived. Dating back to 2003, Market Street Grill has earned a spot on that list. Kerri Greco, the (original and current) owner, had a knack for gathering loyal talent when he opened his doors with Chef Darla Riccetti behind the grill. With a menu both prolific and genuinely exciting, she’s still bringing her A-game, with no sign of burnout. A “hipster diner” vibe is instantaneously provoked upon walking through the door, thanks to Greco’s long-time friend John Stango, the artist behind the work that covers almost every inch of the walls. Whether it’s a lazy Saturday brunch in

sweats or a weekday lunch meeting, Market Street Grill is not to be missed. During a recent visit I had a chance to chat with the manager, Kerri’s son Christian Greco. Although the hip vibe is unmistakable, Christian assured me family-friendly is their goal. I can speak to this as my dining date was my two year old Boss Baby who’s earned her nickname through entitled expressions and an adamant refusal to be nudged toward compromise. My server offered a booster, a high chair, and in seeing my indecision, told me to sit wherever and she’d bring all of the possible options, along with crayons. Crayons coupled with the fact that the food came out lickety-split were a quick sign that I’d love this restaurant. As we settled into our seats and perused the menu, I was honestly, but pleasantly, shocked. It boasts a plethora of options so diverse that even the most adventurous of eaters will be able to try something new (say, eggs Benedict over mouthwateringly marinated flank steak and grilled asparagus, smothered in delectable hollandaise sauce), yet the impossible to please toddler in tow can order a bagel and an egg

from the A La Carte section for just $3.50). The Bullotta, a dish described as “Bacon and Bananas sautéed with honey, poured over Texas French toast and topped with peanut butter” is something that my health-conscious self may not ordinarily have ordered, but Christian said it wasn’t to be missed, and who I am to argue? The epic combination would tickle any sweet tooth, but Chef Darla balanced the sweet with the candied bacon and warmed, oozing, salty peanut butter in a way that was completely addicting. While the French toast was memorable, it was the steak and eggs take on the Benedict that wowed me. Chef Darla produced a poached egg with a gorgeously liquid yolk but not one bit of jiggle from the white, a feat with which I often struggle. With kids or without, work lunch or easy Sunday morning, the Benny’s keep bringing me back (as well as a dozen other factors). Market Street Grill is a West Chester gem, and there’s a reason it has excelled this long in a town full of foodie favorites. photo & story BECCA @homebeccanomics

BOYD

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In the Kitchen wth Split Rail Tavern’s Brian Hampton A view behind the scenes at West Chester’s dining desinations, and a chat with the people who run them. photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews story JESSE @jessepiersol

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n a frigid Tuesday evening in December, the upstairs at Split Rail Tavern is aglow with twinkle lights and the warm conversation of alums and faculty of West Chester University’s Department of Communication and Media as they celebrate their graduating seniors. Purple and gold beaded necklaces are strewn on tables, mingled with glossy “Ram Nation” networking flyers and flickering tea candles. Opposite the bar is a long table with a pair of silver chafing dishes offering up mini crab cakes and crunchy arancini with house-made marinara sauce. At the other end of the table are bowls heaped with creamy baba ganoush, succulent eggplant caponata, and roasted red peppers with pine nuts, all flanked by platters of crunchy pita slices and crostini. Several other trays display cheeses and Italian meats, including rolls of paper-thin prosciutto so tender that they practically dissolve on the tongue — a feast for the senses. Amidst the people and the platters, the merriment and the chatter, wends a figure dressed in black who periodically materializes by the food table, casting a

furtive glance to see what is on everyone’s plates and gauging their reaction to what they’re eating. This is Brian Hampton, Chef at Split Rail and the architect of tonight’s festive spread. Although the effort that went into preparing the evening’s offerings is invisible to the guests, it is significant. We got to sneak a peek behind the scenes of that effort, in the kitchen with Brian and his crew.

About the Work... On a very different Tuesday afternoon, I’m squirreled away in a corner of the kitchen at Split Rail. My laptop is perched on the top tier of a wheeled serving cart, as I type notes on my makeshift desk while watching the proceedings and just generally trying to stay out of the way. Unlike the spacious yet cozy dining and bar areas that define Split Rail’s space, the kitchen is tiny and efficient, with a central prep area in the center of the room, bordered on all sides by ovens, ranges, sinks, and appliances. Three line cooks hustle throughout the narrow space on this day, too. A paper towel dispenser near the

doorway is adorned with stickers, and when I ask about their origins, Brian tells me that they recently got a new dispenser and had to start building the sticker collection all over again. When the music playing in the background drops out, only the sounds of the exhaust fan droning, the nonstop tapping of footsteps and the clanging of pots remain, a situation Brian remedies immediately. “Nineties hip hop is always a good choice when you’re struggling for what to listen to in the kitchen,” he says over his shoulder. “But it depends on the mood.” Wearing a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, all of which are black, and a youthful mop of brown hair, Brian’s laid-back dress and demeanor belie the speed at which he moves. Right now, he’s slicing delicata squash, skin on, into four-inch pieces, uniformly half an inch thick, which he tosses into a large stainless steel roasting pan. “The squash gets coated with apple cider vinegar and roasted for a sweet, tangy flavor,” he said, explaining the step prior to it becoming a part of Split Rail’s pork belly tacos. “We cure our pork belly, press it,

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and then deep fry it so it gets crispy.” The combination is then served on corn tortillas with pickled red onions. As he’s prepping the large dishes at lightning speed while patiently entertaining my barrage of questions, he takes a beat to sprinkle cheese over a wing special that just popped up on the line. “Today, our wing special has a honey sambal glaze, which is a little sweet, a little spicy. We use scallion cream cheese along with the ‘everything’ bagel spice from the bagel shop down the street.” Server Liz whizzes in to grab the plate and Brian returns to his myriad other tasks. Next up is dealing with what looks like a small mountain of fresh cauliflower. He tackles it head by head, with half of it destined to be roasted, pureed, and simmered with milk, cream, and butter before being pureed with even more butter to become the sauce for today’s flatbread. Topping the flatbread will be a mixture made from the other half of the cauliflower, along with caramelized onion, a balsamic reduction, and mozzarella cheese. “We change up our flatbreads all the time,” he tells me.

Topping the flatbread will be a mixture made from the other half of the cauliflower, along with caramelized onion, a balsamic reduction, and mozzarella cheese. Retrieving a giant four-gallon kettle, he moves on to prepping a Split Rail staple: their tomato basil soup. Top-quality canned tomatoes form the base, followed by bunches of fresh basil, and then a generous amount of butter. He often uses what he affectionately terms “an aggressive amount of butter — one recipe took four pounds.” After pureeing, everything goes onto the stove to simmer. Rustic style, the soup will cook for about an hour over low heat. Split Rail customers will often pair it with a grilled cheese for a popular lunch special. It’s easy to get caught up in the food while you’re sitting in a kitchen watching a chef work, but there’s much more to the man than the task at hand.

About the Chef... Brian started with Split Rail the month after they opened their doors in July of 2015, but it was a circuitous path that ultimately led him to this kitchen. He studied journalism for a bit at Temple University but wasn’t quite feeling it, so he started washing dishes at a steakhouse near his parents’ place. He loved the quick pace of the restaurant industry and worked his way up the ranks, eventually cooking for three years at Harvest Seasonal Grill — that is until one of the sous chefs there mentioned a new spot opening in West Chester. “I was ready for a change of scenery,” he recalls. Now 31, he’s a bit philosophical about the implications of his career. “Working in the restaurant industry ages you faster,” he observes. “I was surprised that things start to hurt at this age already.” He notes that the days of a chef are either really chaotic or really smooth. “That’s what I like about it. There is always something that will have to be solved. Coming into the busy season, once it gets rolling at dinner time, it just kind of

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“A big spoon is key for everything I do, from plating food to spooning sauces.” goes.” In the midst of the holiday stretch, his present duties also include crafting the food for events in the busy popup-style kitchen upstairs. When he gets home from work he tends to listen to some psychedelic music to unwind. He’ll enjoy a shot of Jamison — a favorite of the Split Rail staff — and a couple of beers. “On my first day off after a stretch, I don’t even leave the house until three in the afternoon if I can help it. It’s a lot of sleep and movies until then.” Eventually, he’ll ease back into doing laundry, maybe painting, or watching TV. “Really, I’m just a regular guy,” he says. “I just work different hours.” At home, he enjoys cooking with Asian flavor profiles, favoring ingredients such as

soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, scallions and sesame oil. “I love balancing sweet and sour, or sweet and spicy.” The right tools are critical to success in a commercial kitchen, and Brian cites three of particular significance to him. “A really nice knife,” he says as he flashes the blade of his big chef’s knife. “This one was a gift. I’ve been using it for almost two weeks and haven’t sharpened it once yet. You don’t want something flashy that’s going to get damaged in a couple days.” Another essential tool is surprisingly simple. “A big spoon is key for everything I do, from plating food to spooning sauces.” And the third item isn’t really a tool at all — it’s footwear. “Really good shoes,” he says. “I wear Dansko clogs all the time. And compression socks are something I’m going to look into down the road as well.” Along with the items he can’t live without in the kitchen, he has a list of triggers

that he can’t live with, and that includes clutter. “When there are half-empty containers of the same thing next to each other in the fridge, it drives me insane. Like three partially empty half-and-half cartons.” What does success on the job look like to him? “It’s a good shift when we didn’t run out of anything,” he reflects. “And when we had good ticket times, so people weren’t waiting long for their meals — when everything went out right the first time.”

About the Inspiration... One aspect of cooking that fuels Brian’s interest in the craft is how things work. He cites Harold McGee’s book On Food And Cooking: The Science And Lore Of The Kitchen, first published in 1984, as a notable influence on his style. “If you want to make a vinaigrette, read his chapter on emulsions to see how it works,” he advises.

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While research is crucial to his process, Brian also likes to experiment. “I’ll try something first and just get into it when I have an idea. I see if it’ll work, and if it doesn’t, I’ll look it up and try something different next time.” Feedback is key, and he gets plenty of it from the servers at Split Rail. “Lots of servers come here on their off days to eat,” he says. “I give them specials to try, and they give me feedback.” Sometimes ingredients themselves are the inspiration for new ideas. “I love the versatility of the potato. It’s such a humble vegetable,” he tells me. “It’s never the star of a plate, but if the potatoes aren’t good, it’s a little thing, but it can change the entire meal.” Other times, he takes pride in borrowing and then enhancing concepts from other chefs. “I might take part of their idea and then add my own twist on it,” he explains. “Look, there’s not much actual new stuff

A Split Rail staple: their tomato basil soup. Topquality canned tomatoes form the base, followed by bunches of fresh basil, and then a generous amount of butter. left at this point. We’re always riffing on existing ideas. For example, our pumpkin spice bread is based on zucchini bread. In some cases, the hard part is already done, and it’s just about combining different things and seeing what works.” His Split Rail colleagues inspire him as well. “Chef Justin puts a little pinch of cayenne in sweet stuff. You don’t even notice it, but it makes the sweetness sing.” Brian notes that it’s the same with vinegar. “A little bit of vinegar makes everybody talk louder. It brightens all the ingredients.” He is a fan of whimsical contrasts, too. Sitting on the counter in the kitchen

at Split Rail is a giant box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, one of the first things I noticed upon entering. Brian laughs. “We’re making desserts again. That’s for our Cinnamon Toast Crunch Panna Cotta. Sometimes we experiment by using ‘junk food’ on top of our dishes.” Endurance. A penchant for experimentation. The ability to multitask. Are there any other qualities essential to being a good chef? “I’ll borrow something from another chef to answer that,” Brian responds. “Anthony Bourdain said, ‘Show up on time. You can teach someone to cook, but you can’t teach character.’ And I think that’s pretty true.” And finally, don’t be intimidated. “Everyone can be a good cook — it just depends on how much you value it. My family didn’t cook, and when I started, I didn’t know what I was getting into. Now I’m here, so it’s obvious that something clicked along the way.”

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Behind the Bar Kaiti Cooke with

Discussing the details of a life behind bars with one of the borough’s best-know faces. How long have you been at Barnaby’s? I think it will be four years in August. What brought you in? I transferred to West Chester, and my roommate, Colleen Shanahan, worked at Barnaby’s — she helped get me in. I started as a server and moved to bartending after I turned 21. When you say you transferred, I assume you mean college? Yes. I did one and a half years at Delco, then transferred to West Chester University, and I graduated from there in May. What’s your degree? I majored in communications and minored in media and culture studies. Is that something you were able to apply to your job as a bartender? Definitely. Michael Gallen, the owner, asked

me to run our Instagram account promoting our specials and giveaways. I was taking courses that were about content creation and branding, and it was cool to use what I was learning in the classroom and apply that at work. My studies focused on strategic social media, so it was great to be able to use Barnaby’s accounts to reach out, then see people come into Barnaby’s and have it come full circle. What made you switch to bartending? Back when I was serving, daytime bartender Drew Shiomos would always teach us and show us what he was doing. I also liked how it was a completely different shift, and it’s just a more fun environment, and you get to meet a lot of people — you’re doing your job but also having fun. Are you still on the day shift? No. I work Thursday 6:30pm-2am, as well as Friday and Saturday nights. So, the busiest shifts. I enjoy being busy. My job is fun, but if you’re not busy, it can be boring, and you’re just standing there. Being busy makes the time go faster. What’s your best shift? Thursdays are all-day $2 Miller Lite and Highlife bottles, and from 10pm-12am we have $2 mixed

drinks, and almost every Thursday we have some sort of giveaway — things like Flyers, Eagles or Sixers tickets and jerseys, and we always have a live band. Thursday nights are a big happening night at Barnabys, and I’m there, so it’s a good time. What’s something your regulars would be surprised to learn about you? Most people don’t know my real name is Kaiti. The manager when I started here knew me as KT, and so that’s my name in the system, and at the bottom of your check, it says “Your server was KT,” and so people who come in a lot know me as that. What makes Barnaby’s special? I would say the fact that we have seven different bars, and you can walk into different rooms and find completely different vibes. You could hit the dance floor upstairs, then come downstairs and find more relaxed music, or head outside. It’s like going to a different bar without leaving the building. photo ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews interview DAN @thewcpress

MATHERS

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Savor a Slice There’s no such thing as a bad pizza, but that doesn’t mean some aren’t a cut above. photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews

Saucey’s Sweet & Sassy Pleasant surprise of spicy but evened out with cool ranch to give it a nice smooth balance.

Riggtown Oven Honey Mustard Chicken A borough classic perfectly pairing sweet, savory and salty.

Benny’s White Pizza Benny’s takes their white pizza to the next level with fresh tomatoes and chunks of mozzarella.

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photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews story DANIELLE DAVIES @danielledavieswrites

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Season Cold Weather Fare Around Town The rich drinks and savory dishes that we’re embracing to shelter us from the winter weather

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H

ave you ever had an eggnog poolside? Probably not. The things we eat and drink are influenced not only by personal tastes, health decisions/restrictions, and how much time and money we have, but also by the seasons. From an emphasis on utilizing fresh ingredients to a focus on how food makes you feel, seasonal fare isn’t just tastier (fresh ingredients beat frozen goods any day of the year) but satisfies our personal, cyclical cravings. In summer, those hankerings may be for light meals, salads, and fruits, but in winter, heartier proteins, carbs, and coziness take center stage. We’ve rounded up the best in coldweather comfort foods from around the borough — from breakfast to dessert — to get you through the cold, shorter days and colder, longer nights.

BREAKFAST Is it just us, or is it much harder to get out of bed when it’s cold outside? Fewer things are more tempting when the temperature dips than the coziness of your own bed. Unless, of course, you can find an equally cozy and equally tempting breakfast.

Darla’s Andouille Gravy

While Market Street Grill offers specials every week, and there are bound to be some worth crawling through snow for, one comforting breakfast you can always count on is Darla’s Andouille Gravy, on the menu year round. Made with homemade Andouille sausage gravy and Cajun flavoring, it’s one-part comfort food, one part morning kick start — that Cajun spice provides a little bit of a bang. The deep orange gravy is served over biscuits, but if you want a flavor overload, get it topped with eggs. “We recommend over-medium eggs,” says manager and server, Jenna Kelly, "but it’s however the customer wants them.”

Bacon & Swiss Cheese Quiche

We’re suckers for warm, flaky crusts of any kind, and the Bacon and Swiss Cheese Quiche at Edie’s Sweet & Savory Pastries is right up our alley. The crust, made with shortening, is just the tip of the iceberg; baked inside is a filling made with cream, eggs, onions, bacon, and high-quality Swiss cheese. Sold in slices or as full-sized ‘pies’ — which need to be pre-ordered —

Darla’s Andouille Gravy Made with homemade Andouille sausage gravy and Cajun flavoring, it’s one-part comfort food, one part morning kick start. these custard-like quiches are a splendid, hearty way to start a winter day.

HOT SANDWICHES Bread lovers…unite! There’s nothing like a warm filling stuffed between two pieces of fluffy, fresh-baked bread to stave off winter's chill. Usually served with chips or fries, these carb-loaded, cold-weather options keep your body warm and your belly full.

Brisket

Salon 151 may be known for its award-winning chili, but it’s just as well known for its brisket. Slow roasted, barbecued, pulled, and then stuffed into a freshbaked kaiser roll, the brisket sandwich is topped with coleslaw. While it’s served with chips and a pickle, you can always upgrade your side to something like the

mac and cheese or the garlic mashed potatoes, as the temperature or your appetite dictates.

The Panulla

It’s not quite a sandwich, but The Panulla from America’s Pie technically falls within the hand-held section, though we honestly doubt anyone’s ability to hold this whopping stromboli. Stuffed with chicken, penne pasta, vodka sauce, mozzarella, and bacon, this behemoth is mouthwatering, filling and inventive, with a focus on carbs, a wintertime must.

Grilled Cheese

Few things conjure up comfort more than warm, melted cheese on grilled bread, which can make seeking solace a tough choice if you’re a vegan. Enter Love Again Local and their vegan grilled cheese. Custom made with your choice of vegan cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, or house-made feta, the sandwich is served on a plain or multigrain grilled panini. To further customize it, consider add-ons like avocado, coconut bacon, or house-made vegan ham. And of course, get it with a hot bowl of tomato soup for dipping.

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PASTAS & PIES If you’re trying to stay away from carbs, you’re missing out on some major winter comforts: the pastas and the pot pies. Equal parts flavor and carbohydrates, these options are just too good to pass up when the weather turns chilly.

Mushroom Ravioli

For an inspiring twist on traditional raviolis, check out the Mushroom Ravioli at Spence Café. The freshly made pasta is stuffed with a variety of mushrooms and cheese, then served up in a warm and simmering asiago cream sauce with seared duck breast, roasted cherry tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. It’s a rich and complex delight for your taste buds.

Mac & Cheese

It’s oooey; it’s gooey; it’s a bowl full of comfort, and at Rams Head Bar & Grill it comes four different ways. The OG is made with a Vermont white cheddar and fontina sauce, then finished with pecorino and a panko crust. The Nashville Hot Chicken Mac is, as it sounds, mac and cheese topped with crispy Nashville hot chicken. The Short Rib Mac comes topped with slow-roasted, red-wine short rib. And

for seafood lovers, the Crab Mac is tossed with crab meat and topped with Old Bay and pecorino. Cheese, please.

Chicken Pot Pie Warm and flaky, the chicken pot pie from Iron Hill Brewery definitely makes our list of cold-weather comfort foods. Made fresh every day with chicken, carrots, potatoes, corn and peas, and topped with a flaky pastry topping, this entrée can be made even better paired with a crisp Vienna Lager, a perfect complement to the rich, buttery goodness of the pot pie.

SOUPS & STEWS Looking for midday comfort? Need a little pep in your admittedly slower wintery step? Look no further than stews and soups, which often include a mix of winter vegetables, warm bases, and hearty proteins, just what your body needs to power you through the chilly temps of winter.

Crock o' Chili There are tons of options just right for winter dining at Barnaby’s, but Manager Jill Carnevale recommends Barnaby’s

Vegan Grilled Cheese Custom made with your choice of vegan cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, or house-made feta, the sandwich is served on a plain or multigrain grilled panini. Crock o’ Chili, which is featured in the West Chester Chili Cook-Off every year. Made with ground beef, diced tomatoes, and a variety of beans, the crock comes topped with cheese and sour cream, if you choose. If you’re looking for something to dunk into that chili, order their dinner bread and butter and get to dipping.

French Onion Soup

In search of something to warm you up on a snowy day? Head to Split Rail Tavern for their seasonally available French Onion Soup. “People wait for it to come back on the menu,” says server Chris Jones. “Because who wants French Onion Soup in 98-degree weather on a patio?” Made with red and Port wine beef broth, caramelized onions and croutons, and topped with Emmenthaler Swiss, it’s sure to warm

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you up. Need something heartier? Go for their Moroccan Vegetable Stew, made with chickpeas, petite potatoes, tomatoes, cilantro, roasted almonds and cauliflower. Topped with a lemony whipped yogurt, this tomato-y goodness comes with a side of toasted pita.

Pasta Fagioli Think warm, think savory, and think Italian, then head to Limoncello for a piping hot bowl of Pasta Fagioli. This Italian classic is a tomato-based soup that is thick and chunky, made with ditalini pasta and fagioli beans. It’s a hearty classic served just about everywhere in Italy, and also right here in West Chester.

Thai Spaghetti Squash We’re not sure this can technically be considered a stew, but served in half a spaghetti squash (thus a bowl of sorts) and topped with a sauce, we felt we could make the case for this category. Head to the Liquid Eatery for this yummy and vegan Thai Spaghetti Squash. Served with a pool of peanut butter Thai sauce and topped with marinated tofu and sesame seeds, this mostly organic, 100% glu-

ten-free dish offers all the flavor and just the right amount of heat for the coldest of days.

THE FULL MONTY When you want it all, you go the full Monty. No ordering of odds and ends, sides or apps…you get the full dinner, the maximum food satisfaction, everything you need to keep you sated, warm, and ready for an early winter slumber.

Smashed Potatoes & Cowboy Ribeye

If there’s a food more synonymous with ‘comfort’ than mashed potatoes, we don’t know what it is. At Pietro’s Prime, an order of their smashed potatoes — appropriately named for using the entire potato, skin and all — is made with lots of butter and heavy cream. Served alongside their 20-ounce Pietro’s Cowboy Ribeye — a marbled slice of beef made to order — is pure winter perfection. Executive Chef Sean Powell recommends adding their creamed corn, made with béchamel, garlic, shallots and the freshest of corn. Your belly will thank you.

Thai Spaghetti Squash Served with a pool of peanut butter Thai sauce and topped with marinated tofu and sesame seeds... Chicken and Waffles This entrée from The Social is an amalgam of comfort foods, all impeccably assembled into a feast. At its core is crispy fried buttermilk chicken, served over a homemade Belgian waffle, both of which are propped up on a pile of homemade mashed potatoes. The whole spectacular concoction is served with smoked bacon strips and topped with a drizzle of Cholula Maple Butter for a little bit of kick. “It’s one of our most popular items,” says Assistant Manager Gunner Funk.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie If you’re a plant-based eater, you know how hard it can be to find a full-fledged vegan dinner, especially one that is as comforting and cozy as you need in the heart of winter. So you’ll really appreciate the Vegan Shepherd’s Pie at Roots Café.

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Made with a roasted portobello mushroom, Impossible™ ground beef, whole grain mustard cream, whipped potatoes, and crispy leeks, this vegan delight will keep you cozy, comforted and satiated.

HOT DRINKS In the quest for seasonally appropriate cuisine, don’t forget the drinks. From chocolates to toddies, there’s nothing better than a hot, frothy mug of something warm and delicious.

Hot Chocolate Gelato

You may question the inclusion of icy desserts in a roundup of cold-weather comfort drinks, but bear with us. Not only does Gemelli offer a cozy setting for gelato tasting, as well as a hot chocolate made from Valrhona chocolate (a beverage that’s delicious on its own), but they’ve found a way to adapt their gelato for cold weather. Enter the Hot Chocolate Gelato, which is not, as we first thought, hot chocolate-flavored gelato. Rather, it’s a scoop of any flavor of gelato — think cinnamon, caramel & sea salt, gingerbread cookie — in a cup of homemade hot chocolate. No really, this exists. And we think it’s perfect.

French Toast Latte

Who doesn’t love French toast? It’s one of the most impeccable bread breakfasts, albeit packed with carbs and calories. If you crave French toast but are eating on the lighter side, consider a French Toast Latte from Cathey’s Coffee Bar. Made with maple spice and cinnamon bun syrups, the milk of your choice, and Larry’s Secret Espresso, get it either as-is, or topped with whipped cream. Either way, it’s sublime.

DESSERTS The pièce de résistance of any meal: dessert. And while during the summer, those desserts might be sorbets and ice cream cones, fruit tarts and crisps, in the wintertime, decadence is the key ingredient.

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Icing

Officially, this is a dessert that can double as breakfast, but either way, cinnamon buns with cream cheese frosting are a sweet treat that's been perfected at Yori’s Bakery. Made with rich, yeast-raised sweet dough with a brown sugar-cinnamon filling, rolled up, sliced and baked to perfec-

Cinnamon Buns Made with rich, yeast-raised sweet dough with a brown sugarcinnamon filling... tion, these cinnamon buns are then topped with a cream cheese icing that melts into both the cinnamon bun and your mouth.

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

Hot cocoa may be the quintessential cold-weather beverage, and hot cocoa cupcakes are on our list of winter treats. Dive into this velvety chocolate cake filled with homemade chocolate mousse from Dia Doce Gourmet Cupcakes. Finished off with a dollop of from-scratch marshmallow cream and a dusting of cocoa, this is a favorite of staff and guests alike, but it's only available January 8 through March 31. Who says winter doesn't have its perks? One of the joys of living in a place like Pennsylvania is the changing seasons. Here in West Chester, it's easy for your palate to embrace the joys of those changes, too.

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Sweet Relief We all deserve a delicious treat from time to time Gelato Sandwich Gemelli Artisanal Gelato and Dessert CafÊ puts a pleasant twist on a traditional ice cream sandwich. They use Madagascar vanilla beans to produce their exquisite vanilla gelato, then sandwich that between homemade chocolate truffle cookies. It’s all served with some fresh whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

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photo ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews

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Small Fry Some suggestions on the best destinations when dining out with the young ones in tow. When our daughter Olivia was born, my wife Shannon and I assumed we’d bid farewell, for a time, to the enjoyment of good restaurants. We love going out to eat; for a married couple who works all day, it’s refreshing to go out once or twice a week and have a drink, check out a new restaurant or stop by one of our local favorites. Having a kid meant that was all over, right? At least without outrageous babysitter bills? Nope! To our surprise, we enjoy (and appreciate) eating out even more now that my daughter has joined us at the table. Some of the best advice on becoming a new parent came from a good friend, Justin Dougherty, who happens to be one of the owners of Side Bar & Restaurant. When Shannon was pregnant he pulled me aside and said, “Don’t give up your life because you become a parent… include your kids in your life as much as you can.” I took this to heart and live by his advice almost everyday. Eating at restaurants, socializing and enjoying life has been and always will be huge priorities for our little family. I know many fellow parents who swear off eating out saying, “It’s not worth it.” Which… sometimes it’s not. But, some days dining out can feel like a necessity. Of course we eat at home more often than we did before Olivia, but there are still many days when we finish our work and just need to get out of the house. Plus, nobody wants to clean the kitchen. One of our favorite places to go in West Chester is good ol’ Saloon 151. I know many of you are thinking that Saloon is that place with the long lines to get in on the weekends, filled with whiskey loving folks and a packed bar, which I am not denying. But on a Tuesday evening around 6pm Saloon 151 is an entirely different, family-friendly establishment. Not only do they have high chairs, a friendly staff, plus great food and drink specials, but their children’s menu is one of the best deals in town: $8 gets your kid a drink, a meal, a side and it comes with an ice cream sandwich!

Olivia devoured her chicken fingers and fries, all while coloring on her fun children’s menu/interactive placemat, always a great distraction! We were able to enjoy our adult beverages, which were heavily discounted due to it being happy hour, and we savored our dinners without interruption. Our server Brittany went over-the-top with catering to our girl, and we couldn’t have been happier. I highly recommend taking your little ones here and enjoying what they have to offer — just make sure to go at the right time.

When we plan it right, dining out with Olivia is often more fun for me than sharing the table with other adults. I love watching the restaurant through her eyes: seeing her stare at other people, and flirt outrageously with the little boy at the neighboring table; watching her taste new foods and experience new flavors; and revel in her being generally charming as only a tiny nugget can when there is dessert on the line. photo & story @djromeo24

NICK VECCHIO

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The Dutch Destroyer from America’s Pie combines

gameday favorites, chicken wings and cheesesteaks, into a single scrumptious sandwich.

On a Roll Sampling all of the borough’s best foods served between slices of bread When my 87-year-old mother and I burst through the door of America’s Pie last November on Small Business Saturday, we were welcomed like family. It’s one of my favorite things about the place — people are excited to see you. This perpetual Best of Philly and Best of Main Line winner extends that family vibe to the entire community, offering discounts for military veterans and supporting local organizations too numerous to list. Last Thanksgiving, general manager George Reed and the crew fed the 335 employees at Target in Wilmington, Delaware. “It sucks that they had to work Thanksgiving,” says George, “but at least their lunch and dinner was covered.” I usually gravitate toward a menu’s lighter fare, but for the inaugural On a Roll column, I wanted to go big. Without missing a beat, George had a recommendation

for me. Before he placed it on the table, however, he brought out three other sandwiches for me to try, too: The Tony Bourdain, The Jay Wright, and Always Sunny. “My sister and brother-in-law come up with all these different flavors, lots of layers,” he explained as he placed yet another tray in front of me. “My brother Matt is a creator and genius.” Then it was time to sample George’s On a Roll choice, aptly chosen for Super Bowl season: The Dutch Destroyer. Sometimes the mood strikes for a batch of crispy chicken wings. Other times nothing hits the spot like the oozy, comfort-food goodness of a steak sandwich. What if you didn’t have to choose? The Dutch Destroyer hits both marks. It’s a cheesesteak with fried onions and a combination of American cheese and Cheez Whiz, a perfect sandwich on its own. But perched atop is the kicker: boneless buffalo wings, drizzled in bleu cheese dressing and sprinkled with fresh parsley. “People like wings, so we put wings on a sandwich,” George states simply. The juxtaposition is both surprising and completely reasonable: tangy wing sauce and creamy cheese-laced steak, a beloved

finger food sharing space with Philly’s preeminent sandwich, all on a seeded Italian roll that deliciously absorbs the melted cheesy goodness. Like all of America’s Pie’s offerings, the Dutch Destroyer is aesthetically pleasing, too. Details like the fresh parsley add that special touch that George says goes into all of their food. “Everything needs a pop. People work hard for their money. They want something good.” This sandwich takes “good” to another level: formerly known as the Sam Bradford, the sandwich was renamed as a tribute to Lukas “The Dutch Destroyer” Kusters, a young Eagles fan with a fondness for Carson Wentz. Lukas passed away in 2017, but not before he got to meet his beloved team and favorite player, inspiring Wentz to support the Live Like Lukas organization and its mission to help those suffering with childhood cancer. Next time you’re grappling with “sandwich or wings?” get to America’s Pie and let them feed you both. It’s all good. photo ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews story JESSE @jessepiersol

PIERSOL

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kirts of Town A destination worth the drive.

photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews story KANA GOLE @@kanan_adventuring

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T

he winding back roads of West Chester were all mine on a recent rainy Monday and made for an adventurous and picturesque drive towards my craft beer and food destination. I’m a beer enthusiast, a proponent for breweries both close to home and far away. Downtown West Chester has definitely packed in many options for craft beer, but consider taking a ten-minute drive (or better yet, an Uber/Lyft, we’re talking alcohol here) to Righteous Tap House for a great meal accompanied by a rare global or local brewery find.

but okay for families” or “a modern tavern for the weary traveler, but also a good community gathering space.” It’s like one of those old roadhouses that sits right off a main thoroughfare. The sprawling bar takes up an entire half of the long room, with its low wood ceilings and a few warm yellow lights. From the entrance, there are booths to the left and tables to the far right, by a side door that leads out to the patio. Thankfully, Michael and Jon took my “cute” word choice as a compliment. They’re just welcoming guys like that.

From town, the road to Righteous is a scenic one, passing Brandywine Crreek, the 250-year-old Marshallton village, and Highland Orchards. When I arrived, co-owners Michael Slachta and Jon Masishin, along with the head chef David Wassel, welcomed me.

The highlight of the Righteous interior design is the wall by the side door. On it, there is... let’s call it “an interpretation”... of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam painting. You know the one, in which God is reaching out his hand to Adam to pass on the “touch of life.” At Righteous, God is passing Adam a beer.

The first thing I said to them was, “This place is so cute!” Cringe. Probably not the vibe they were going for when the owners created Righteous three years ago. More like “rebellious,

These kinds of witty nods to divinity pepper the restaurant. There are framed photos of monks pouring beer; a stained glass window at a booth replicates a confessional door. Michael told me a bit

“a modern tavern for the weary traveler, but also a good community gathering space.” about the history of beer and how that inspired the place’s ambience. Long ago, beer was brewed by Cistercian monks to “help them manage long fasts,” so Michael and Jon took that image and decided on the name Righteous. “A heavenly selection... devilishly good” became their motto. They asked me when I arrived if I wanted anything to drink, and frankly, I didn’t want to seem too eager. How could I not, though, with so many options of brews on tap and in bottles behind the bar? “She’s ready for a beer! It’s on her face!” said Michael. Jon saw my confusion at all of the choices and set down a taste of the brilliant Belgian Delirium Tremens Pale Ale, their house beer. Jon’s a real connoisseur and works on finding good beers from across the world. But he also pays close attention to community breweries like Stolen Sun

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from Pottstown, Levante from West Chester, and Root Down from Phoenixville. In their selection of 25 rotating beers on tap, they currently have an intriguing mango habanero pale ale for anyone who’s missing summer, and some great seasonal porters and stouts for heavier, winter-friendly options. There’s also a plethora of options in bottles and cans, because Jon is always finding something new to add to their “99 Bottles of Beers” menu. You don’t just go to Righteous for the beer, though; you also go for a proper meal. Head chef David Wassel is a chefturned-businessman-turned chef again who knows his way around the restaurant’s 100% scratch kitchen. Everything, from the fries to the pasta, is made from scratch at Righteous, and they source their cheeses, bread, mushrooms and proteins locally. The team launched a new menu in December, as they do a few times a year depending on the seasonality of their ingredients. Jon and David have a sort of experimental approach to their menu revamps, bouncing ideas off each other

Beer geeks rejoice; it’s not often you find a bar where Delirium Tremens is the house draft. on what’s going to work in the kitchen. “You have to try the new thyme-andhoney butter,” David says to Jon, and then rolls off a list of meats that would pair with it. The plates are all comfort-size portions, and the same global influence of their beer selection applies to their food. They not only offer a tastes-like-home chicken, but flavors like the tempura battered fish tacos (2 for $11) and the fried shishito pepper appetizer ($11). A few plates have remained favorites over the years. Here’s a sample meal that David threw down. Get the signature Inquisition Burger ($14), a LaFreida beef patty, bacon jam, sharp cheddar, and a fried egg on top. Have that with a side of Resurrection Fries ($7.5), with gravy, cheese, and scallions. Of course, ask your server which beer (probably a pale ale or something light, says David) would go well with this.

But wait. Next to your plate, keep a bottle of the funky G.Love Hot Sauce, created by the Philadelphia alternative/ blues band G.Love and Special Sauce. The owners are proud that Philadelphia is their city. Righteous draws their design inspiration not only from history but also from Philly’s iconic Monk’s Cafe. The hot sauce choice and their take on the Italian roast pork sandwich, topped with some of that thyme-andhoney butter, are among their homages to the City of Brotherly Love. If this all seems like too much for you, just stick to their Confession Chicken ($16.5), accompanied by asparagus, mashed potatoes, and sausage gravy. Or perhaps the one-plate yet intricate crab pasta ($22), with black pepper fettucini, asparagus, tomatoes, basil-tarragon cream sauce, and parmesan. For vegetarians, they’ve got an excellent black bean veggie burger ($13), a mac ‘n’ cheese ($10.5), two veggie flatbreads ($13/$14), and they do a wonderful vegetarian back peppercorn fettuccine as well. For vegans, a few of these options can be made without dairy, and Righteous

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has salad options, too. And if you’re gluten-free, get that veggie burger, which has a corn tortilla bun.

“We want a real communityoriented feel to this place...”

In 2020, Jon and Michael aim to relaunch their popular buttermilk Chicken and Waffles Sunday Brunch. They will also intend to introduce private beer dinners this winter, which will have six to seven courses paired with a rare foreign beer.

The Righteous team tries to focus not only on bringing in the community, but on giving back to it. Look for Dine and Donate events on their Facebook and Instagram feeds, during which a percentage of an evening’s revenue is donated to local elementary schools and nonprofits, such as the SPCA.

Many options for beer, many options for food, but Righteous also has its own culture. Since it opened, its excellent acoustics and regular crowds have made it a major live music hub in the area. Find bands like Afrobear, The Whiskeyhickon Boys, and the Tommy Froelich Trio playing a set on Wednesday evenings. “We want a real community-oriented feel to this place,” says Jon, “These bands have dinner here with their families and then play a set. It’s great, and it draws in a regular crowd." A diverse group of local bands are invited to play on Sundays after football season ends at the Blues and Brews events, organized by the Tommy Froelich Trio.

Need To Know

I left Righteous with two new pours to obsess over: the Delirium and Lawson’s Fayston Maple Imperial Porter — be careful with the latter at a sneaky but deadly 10% ABV. But above all, I left with the notion that I could come back here in a couple of years and be welcomed like I never left. It’s evident that the group at Righteous works hard to make everyone who stops by “feel like regulars, even if they’re travelers.” Jon and Michael hope that the comfort-sized portions, rare beers, and live music make a visit to Righteous feel like a “destination experience,” even if home is just a few minutes away.

Happy Hours... Tuesday to Friday, 4-6pm Sunday, 8pm-close $3 Pennsylvania Drafts $3 Avery White Rascal $1 off Appetizers

What’s Happening... Tuesdays $2 tacos Music trivia from 7:30pm Wednesdays $3 sliders Live music starting at 7pm Thursday Half-priced wings from 6-10:30pm Saturdays Live music from 8:30pm-12am Sundays Brunch from 10:30am-2:30pm

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Form & Function Exploring the design concepts of our borough’s best kitchens and dining spaces Inside the historic West Chester firehouse is the new farm-to-table restaurant Slow Hand. Its singular exterior is complemented by a gorgeous interior, which is made all the more impressive by the fact that designer Cira J.S. Raab renovated the existing sports bar and turned it into this chic eatery in just one week. Cira worked with the four long-time friends, Josh and Cortney McCullough and Craig and Bridget Ramsey, who happen to be the owners and made this space one that you can converse with friends, listen to local musicians, and devour food that supports our regional produce and producers. What’s behind the name Slow Hand? The owners were inspired by the legendary country singer Conway Twitty’s song of the same name. The song is about taking your time and doing things

the right way — exactly what you can expect from the food, drinks, and service. A dreamy portrait of Twitty hangs as the focal point above the bar, a symbol of their mantra. Cira made a few simple changes that caused a drastic impact to the bar area. She kept the existing white subway tiles on the wall and took down the TVs, which helped to brighten the space. The glass shelving of the alcohol display Cira swapped out with wood for a warmer and cohesive look. She also retained the existing pendant lighting and lowered them to cast more light on your food and drink. The new, sleek green vinyl and brass barstools are the perfect place to sip a deliciously crafted cocktail. With the pub-height tables, booth, bar, and lounge seating, there is no shortage of options to settle in. The lounge seating is a perfect mix of masculine and feminine, there are groupings of comfortable sofas and chairs that fill the front area of the restaurant. Cira selected muted shades of pink, deep blues and greens with furniture that nods to the ’70s, but with modern textures and materials. This is where the live music plays, and during the warmer

months the lounge area doors open and the seating spills out to the sidewalk. You won’t want to miss out on the upstairs (yes, there’s an upstairs). The old arched and circular windows will remind you that you are in a historical building, and they make for yet another cool place to chit chat. Cira made sure to mimic the style from downstairs and add some personal touches, like fabulous photos that were taken by Josh that are displayed in an eclectic mix of frames. They hang next to a show-stopping gold mirror that was found while antique shopping by Cortney, making this space a labor of love. You can’t help but feel like home here with the soft candlelight, retro table lamps, and potted plants dotting the walls. If you are ready to be transported back to an era of sophistication and ease, then sit yourself down at Slow Hand. Cira says you can’t go wrong with their on-tap kombucha and delicious Nashville hot chicken. The food and stylish ambiance will not disappoint. photo CIRA J.S. @cirajsraab

RAAB

story ANDREA MASON @andreamasondesign

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The First-Ever 2020 Mazda CX-30

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If you can spot the five differences in this photo, email your answers to contests@thewcpress.com, and you’ve got a chance to win a Barnaby’s gift certificate. Congrats to our December winner, Ava Masters from Kooma.

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Profile for The WC Press

Taste West Chester - Winter 2020  

All the Good Food News in West Chester

Taste West Chester - Winter 2020  

All the Good Food News in West Chester