Letter from the Editor
Kate Chadwick introduces the issue
Ifeel like I talk about my late mom a lot in this column, but here we are. I’d be remiss in not mentioning her, since she was not only one of my favorite cooks, but also one of my favorite tea drinkers, and I had the pleasure of tracking down teas around town for this issue.
While she loved the smell of coffee, my mom never developed a taste for it. But we had Tetley tea in the house at. all. times. She started and ended her day with it.
Now my son drinks a morning Tetley tea, although he’s also a coffee aficionado. I’ll down half a pot of hazelnut coffee by 11am, but switch to herbal tea by afternoon—for my safety and the safety of those around me. My friends make fun of my “tea cabinet,” which looks like I’m awaiting Armageddon, stacked top-to-bottom with my favorite elixirs.
There’s Tetley, of course—decaf and regular— along with an extensive assortment by Celestial Seasonings, Stash, and Bigelow. Some faves are Tension Tamer (sometimes works, depending on just how tense I am) my favorite making-dinner tea, Honey Vanilla Chamomile, and, until I finished it recently, two beautiful Christmas teas by Bellocq Tea Atelier in Brooklyn, a luxurious gift from a friend who gets me.
America may “run on Dunkin” but tea is slowly and steadily gaining ground, particularly among millennials. I’ve found that even if it’s not listed on the menu in many restaurants, if I ask, “Do you have any herbal tea?” in response to a server’s “How about coffee or dessert?” inquiry, the answer is increasingly “We do, actually!” I’ll sip to that.
Speaking of sipping, take it outside, would ya? Coffee, tea, or Chablis, it’s the time of year when food and drink spills out into the streets (hopefully not literally), and we’re here for it. Check out our photo essay of the best places for dining al fresco in the borough.
While you’re out and about, make sure to visit the latest establishments featured in New in Town, Taste edition. Oh, and we’ve got you covered for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and date night, too—with or without kids—as we do in every issue. Pizza, too!
Basically, this is your guide to eating your way around the borough, all summer long. So, pour yourself some iced tea (more Americans drink iced tea than hot, FYI) and enjoy, whether you’re catching up with us in print or online.
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SAVOR A SLICE
There’s no such thing as bad pizza — some are just better than others
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
The most important meal of the day. @ Opa Taverna
Dining out with the young ones in tow. @ Gemelli Gelato
NEW IN TOWN
We check in with the owners of our borough's latest hot spots
Your guide to finding a spot of tea in WC
ON A ROLL
The best foods served between slices of bread. @ Colonial Village
A photo essay by West Chester Views
FORM & FUNCTION
The borough’s best kitchens and dining spaces. @ Ground Provisions
Sampling some of our town's best meals. @ Split Rail Tavern
Dinner for two with quality time and quality food. @Mae's
Find the five changes, win a gift card
“I am not a glutton — I am an explorer of food.”
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 () will earn its photographer a gift card to @saloon151.
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
Brothers Pizza & Pasta
Philly Cheesesteak Pizza
Argue all you want over what ingredients are and are not allowed on a true Philly cheesesteak, but one thing you can't argue about is if steak, hot peppers, fried onions, mozzarella and a ketchup is delicious on a slice of pizza. The answer is a resounding "Yes!"
Let's Roll: Pizza - Egg Rolls - Steaks
You might get the impression from the name that these guys are a run-of-the-mill late night spot, serving up classic drunk foods all in one place. But you'd be wrong. There's an attention to detail and quality ingredients at Let's Roll, like hand-sliced, deli-style pepperoni, that make their pizza just as good sober as when you've had a few too many.
Couch Tomato has so many menu options that it's sometimes easy to forget that they made their name with 'za in mind, but one bite of their plain pizza, with it's swirled pattern of cheese and sauce on a crispy crust makes for a loud and clear reminder.
Breakfast of Champions
The most important meal of the day can also be the most delicious way to start it. This Month: Opa Taverna
A visit to Opa gets me excited three days in advance and keeps me swooning for a full 24 hours. No real reason I hadn’t checked out their brunch yet; just the oppressive sports schedule of three kids in the suburbs. The fact that my “job” coincides so perfectly with my appetite is the icing on the cake, or should I say the Merenda on my Tsoureki (definitions pending).
My time with Sofia, the beautiful, ebullient, and welcoming manager at Opa proved just as much of a treat this visit as my last. The brilliant mind behind the cocktails, she started us off with a round of Bloody Marys. This drink is my kryptonite, so I can assuredly say I’ve tried too many versions to count. Every drink at Opa is house made from tip to tail, and these gorgeously crafted cocktails presented with flair are so fantastic and, much to my delight, with a flavor that matched the presentation. The Bloody Mary has a menu all its own, fully customizable down to the rim (go with the jalapeño salt). You can “upgrade” your cocktail by adding a skewer of Chicken Souvlaki; Old Bay shrimp; bacon-wrapped asparagus; or cheese and cherry tomato (my pick is the shrimp—seared off the griddle and perfectly spiced). A mini meal in its own right, it’s a great way to start off your brunch if you’re looking for a little hair of the dog or you’re just hungry enough. Tomato juice not for you? A mimosa menu—again, completely customizable, is in the works.
Now, if a robust meal that’s as free of carbs as you can get is in the cards, look no further than Yiayia’s Breakfast Plate; with two fried eggs, bacon, Opa’s famous loukaniko sausage, grilled tomato, sautéed mushrooms, and their eponymous fries, this plate will make you feel borderline uncomfortably full (a great dish to split). You could pair that with perhaps the lightest option, a perfectly portioned bowl of thick, tangy Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries and homemade granola.
If authenticity is what you’re after, go with the Strapatsada: eggs scrambled in a spiced tomato sauce with feta, heaped over their rustic, dense Horiatiko bread. A very generous portion, this dish seems daunting until you taste your first bite and just can’t stop. For a little more Greek flavor you could also try the Youvetsi fries. A nod to poutine (or if you’re from Jersey, Disco Fries), Opa’s famed short rib Youvetsi is heaped over their Greek fries and topped with a perfectly cooked fried egg. The meat itself is flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; warm spices that denote Greek cuisine to the fullest.
If you have kids in tow (or still eat like one), the menu has you covered with pancakes and a classic omelet. The “simpler palate meets upscale foodie” tastes best in their French toast; made from Tsoureki bread. This traditional Easter bread made with milk, eggs, and sugar (similar to challah or brioche), is flavored with orange zest
and Mastic resin, setting it apart from the expected. It’s plated with chocolate, crisply griddled but pillowy soft inside and served with Merenda (think Greek Nutella) and fresh berries. It was a showstopper and I had to swat my kids’ forks away long enough to take a picture. Lastly, I sampled the avocado toast. A hearty, seeded bread, toasted and topped with flavorful avocado, radishes, pomegranate seeds, strawberries, arugula and a poached egg. The chef knew how to balance flavors and every bite was perfection.
If breakfast is what you’re looking for in West Chester, your options abound. If, however, you’ve got to-die-for cocktails on the brain, served with a mouthwateringly delicious, curated menu sure to appeal to every age and appetite, look no further than Opa’s for brunch—serving up wins from 11-3 on Saturday and Sundays.
Some suggestions on the best destinations when dining out with the young ones in tow. This Month: Gemelli Artisanal Gelato & Dessert Cafe
Now that the weather has become summer-like in West Chester, every time we venture out, my oldest, Olivia, says the same thing: “Daddy, can we get ice cream?”
Having young children can turn the shortest of trips into an overwhelming adventure, but I’ve learned that the key is to plan ahead. What she doesn’t know is that we are definitely already going to be getting ice cream. Daddy loves a good scoop or two, but I’ve got to pretend the option is up in the air so I can use the ice cream as a bargaining chip in exchange for good behavior. Plus with so many great options for dessert in downtown West Chester, I’ve got quite the stack of chips.
I know gelato isn’t exactly ice cream, but Olivia doesn’t. And, I was born a Vecchio, so if there’s an Italian option, I’m gonna take it. While gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, the product we refer to stateside is a little different than ice cream: it’s actually lower in fat because it contains less cream and more milk, and is churned slower resulting in less air and a richer flavor. So, it’s a win-win.
Our go-to spot has been Gemelli
Artisanal Gelato and Dessert Cafe. The maestro at Gemelli, Vincenzo, was born and raised in Ferrara, Italy. Their team handcrafts everything they serve in-house. It’s made from scratch with a focus on local, seasonal, and organic ingredients.
The best part about going for gelato is the taste testing. Olivia’s too young to have developed a sense of shame, so she doesn’t mind asking for a few samples. With how cute she is about it, the staff are usually happy to indulge her. After tearing through a bunch of mini tasting spoons, she went with the Stracciatella, which is basically chocolate chip — not too adventurous after all that sampling, but always a solid choice. Personally, I tend to sample from whatever unique
rotating flavors are available, which vary by the season, week, or day — just another reason to keep coming back.
Did I mention that the texture of their gelato is so smooth and creamy, eating this is nothing like any kind of store bought gelato or soft serve? Well, that’s why I always get a pint to go, this time settling on the chocolate peanut butter to take home and enjoy at a later date.
The interior of Gemelli is inviting, with plenty of seating, including a small, secluded area in the back, and a private-ish spot enclosed in glass for a quieter experience if you're there to work or study... or to avoid our children.
But given the beautiful weather, we opted to move our crew to the outside
patio where we could soak up the sun and let Olivia enjoy her reward. After she took one bite our youngest, Zac, took an interest in what his sister was eating (as usual). Dad got a quick jolt of anxiety, since there have been many battles over food between these two, but Olivia grabbed a separate little spoon she had stashed in her pocket and said, “Here you go Zac, I knew you’d want to try. You can have some of mine.”
Within minutes of sitting down the gelato quickly disappeared into their little bellies, and some all over Zac’s face. It was a perfect reward for their good behavior, and my excellent parenting.
We check in with the owners of our borough's latest hot spots
NEW in town
Mayday Coffee & Shop
recently opened in the buildings that housed Jane Chalfant for decades and has become instantly popular, as much for the high quality of the brews as for the decor. It's the kind of place you want to hang out (and post to your Instagram).
Mayday Coffee & Shop
123 N. HIGH STREET
The first thing that greets customers upon entering Mayday Coffee isn’t the smell of coffee; it’s the colors. Pale neutrals, with an Instagram-ready mango colored neon sign that reads “maybe coffee is addicted to me”—everything is soft shades of cream, terracotta, birch, peach, light grays. Shelves with planters await filling with bouquets of flowers in the same soft color scheme as the shop. My mother—immediately enchanted by the bouquets—picks out a lavender, plum, lime green, and peach beauty for $45.
Austin Piona, Mayday’s 23-year-old owner, knows all too well what happens when customers come in for a beverage—they leave with an arrangement, too. He has dreamed of designing something like this since he was a kid, back when he would design in sims and video games, along with real life. “The style is my style,” he says. “I love pastels and natural woods and natural textures, with a California coastal vibe.”
Flowers weren’t even originally in the plan, but Mayday’s location had the space to do it in house. Austin has a well-established florist friend who gave him lots of training, which he supplemented with YouTube videos. “We didn’t really expect to sell them at this volume,” he says. “Customers will buy them here, even though they weren’t planning to go to a florist. But at Mayday, we have flowers right next to the register.” It’s a winning combination: Over Easter weekend alone, they sold over 100 bouquets.
Mayday has a larger mission than just coffee and gorgeous flowers. Born and raised in California, Austin moved to nearby Downingtown when he was 11. His high school years at Downingtown East were marred by numerous suicides, including his childhood best friend. When he moved back to the area after attending University of San Diego, he asked himself what was there to do in high school? “That’s why Mayday exists,” he explains. “want to give back to this area. I thought, ‘What better place than in a college town?’”
He’s certainly got the ingredients for success in the industry, having worked in
10 different coffee shops over a span of seven-and-a- half years, in roles ranging from cook to barista to assistant manager. “I thought of all I’ve ever seen,” he recalls, “and that’s where I got the design from.”
Austin says the layout of the shop flows very well and leads to loyalty from customers as well as employees. His experience informs how he treats his employees, too. “Flexible schedules, and we pay well. We don’t want people to just leave.”
He envisions more locations in the future, or perhaps a speakeasy, or a brunch spot, or duplicating Mayday in a place like Villanova. It’s a question of how much Austin can expand himself, because at the end of the day, he needs to train everyone.
At 5pm on a Friday, there are two tables of women sipping lattes and chatting over their laptops. At another table, a young man in a cap and blazer reads a book. There is a couch and soft chairs behind a low wall with circles cut into it, and two
Coffee & Community
Mayday owner Austion Piona's focus was at least as much about building a space for cultivating relationships as it was about selling coffee.
larger tables with four seats each line the front window. It is all designed to inspire connection.
“Sitting on a bench, or the bar, or at the big table, the layout is meant for customers to sit next to a stranger and build community,” says Austin. “So often restaurants are booth style, which is isolating, and not designed to create conversations and build community. Once people start talking, they realize they have a lot in common.”
“We should all talk about it,” he muses. “And not do it alone.”
34 S. HIGH STREET
“What makes City Buns so special is that they can be enjoyed in many different ways,” says Vicky Lambert. “They're perfect for breakfast, but they're also great as a late-night treat or a midday indulgence. And with all the unique and creative flavors we offer, you'll never get bored of them.”
Tiny and narrow, City Buns is nestled between West Chester Barber Shop and Mimi’s Tea Cottage. With its white brick walls, it has a bright, clean vibe, and the scents of the ginormous buns on display waft deliciously through the space.
City Buns began when Vicky’s husband Tom shared a “crazy idea” for a cinnamon bun shop that would offer uncommon and delicious flavors that have never been done before. “I was already a passionate baker,” she says, “and I love experimenting with different methods and ingredients, so I knew that we could create something truly special together.”
After scheming for weeks, Vicky made the big decision to quit her job working
in a chemistry lab so she could focus on this project. “It was a big leap of faith, but I knew in my heart that City Buns was something that we could make into a reality,” she told us. For the next year and a half, she dedicated herself to perfecting recipes, with Tom helping on the business side.
Although Vicky is entirely self-taught, she has brought on some fellow bakers and pastry artisans with a whole list of experience to work together to make City Buns the absolute best. “We have been working on improving the recipes over the past two months, making sure to consider every ounce of customer feedback we have received,” she says. “And let me tell you, [the recipes] are unbelievably good.”
The store began with four core flavors: Classic Cinnamon, Maple Pecan Sticky Bun, Pistachio Sticky Bun, and Lemon Blueberry Bun. New flavors on the horizon include Brioche Tarts, Nutella S’mores, Chocolate Lovers, Berry Cheesecake, Monkey Bread Cups, Mini Buns, as well as catering offerings. “We are in a phase of testing and taking in customer feedback as well as building our team to make sure we provide an awesome, special, and mem-
orable experience and to be able to serve more buns to our amazing customers,” says Vicky. “So, expect some changes in all the best ways, and some more upcoming surprises. We urge our customers to let us know what they think. We love our new products, but what matters to us the most is that our customers love our products even more.”
Every item that they serve is made fresh daily and sourced with local ingredients. Their brioche dough requires 16 hours of proofing time and must be made fresh each day to ensure the product has the best flavor and texture. For this reason, quantities are limited. Once they sell out, they can’t offer more buns until the following day, but they will guarantee buns for customers who order ahead.
“I'm so proud of what we've accomplished with City Buns,” Vicky says. “They're a true labor of love, and I think you'll taste that in every bite.”photos ERIK WEBER
story jesse piersoL
The Best Buns City Buns owner Vicky Lambert showing of their four core flavors: Cinnamon, Maple Pecan, Pistachio and Lemon Blueberry.
Your guide to finding a spot of tea in WC
Arecent Instagram post by the BBC News included the following quote: “I pretty much live on Earl Grey, with a little hint of vanilla.” Want to guess what tea lover uttered this? A British celeb? A member of the monarchy? A social media influencer? No—that was Lars Ulrich, Danish-born drummer of the iconic metal band, Metallica, discussing how they’ve left behind their hard-partying ways in favor of kinder, gentler beverages. (By the way, add some steamed milk to that tea he mentioned and you’re drinking a London Fog, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.)
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world besides water. Read that again. Here in America, however, it’s always played second fiddle to coffee. In a fascinating post on the website Teabloom, the theory is proffered that this can be traced back to the Boston Tea Party and the subsequent Revolutionary War, when John Adams referred to tea as “a traitor’s drink.” During that war a 10-year boycott of the beverage pushed America towards growing cof-
fee and away from its dependence on Britain for tea.
Fast forward a couple hundred years, and tea consumption in the US has increased dramatically—partly because of people turning to its soothing effects to help them cope with the pandemic. According to the Tea Association of the USA, on any given day over 159 million Americans are drinking tea, and it can be found in almost 80% of US households.
So, if Lars Ulrich found himself in West Chester, where could he find a great cup (or pot) of tea? Believe it or not, your favorite coffee shops—and a new tearoom. Here’s the breakdown.
Cathey’s Coffee Bar
“I believe coffee shops should serve tea because honestly, not everyone likes coffee—or sometimes tea just sounds like the right move for the day,” says Cathey’s Coffee manager Abbie Smith. “Coffee shops should be about creating an environment where everyone feels welcome, a space to enjoy life’s moments with whatever you choose to drink.”
Apparently, quite a few of Cathey’s visitors choose tea. “I would say close to 50% of our customers ask for tea, if you’re including chai lattes, which we offer in both vanilla and classic masala,” Abbie said. “And we always offer a chai special—they’re really fun and popular.”
If you’re not familiar with chai, a brief tutorial: it’s the Indian word for “tea,” and in that country is a black tea that is boiled with milk and sugar or honey. The masala version includes spices, typically hints of cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, and the “latte” aspect is from the frothy steamed milk used for a café latte. If you want an extra kick, add a shot of espresso and voila: a dirty chai latte.
“Matcha lattes are also part of the mix!” Abbie added. Matcha is a highgrade green tea that’s been ground into a powder which is whisked into hot water rather than steeped—and in the case of a latte,with steamed milk.
“We have both hot and cold tea options,” Abbie told us. “We offer a variety of hot loose leaf teas that change with the seasons, but we always have staples
like Earl Grey, black, green, English Breakfast and at least two herbals.” They use Ephrata-based Pureblend Tea.
With iced tea season upon us, you’re covered here, too, according to Abbie. “Our iced teas are always the same and all unsweetened: black, green, passion-berry,and blood orange—the last two being herbal options. And seasonally, we offer iced tea-lemonade specials that change weekly through the spring and summer.”
If you know Cathey’s Coffee, you know it shares space with Dia Doce Gourmet Cupcakes, owned by Cathey’s daughter-in-law, Thais da Silva Viggue. On our recent visit, we ordered a ginger lemon honey tea and an espresso, then asked for a recommendation on a cupcake to split after hearing another customer in front of us ask “What cupcake would go with this?” as the selection of the latter is dizzying. We went with carrot cake. Apparently, this is common practice. “We want everyone to have the best possible experience, and being able to explain what would pair well is
a big part of what we do—although it’s hard to go wrong when cupcakes are involved!”
And yes—coffee shop manager Abbie drinks tea, too. “I love our masala chai lattes with oat milk, the spices are so incredible. And when I’m not feeling 100%, I can’t get enough of our ginger lemon honey loose leaf tea!” We second that emotion.
Mimi’s Tea Cottage
If you want to take your tea consumption to the next level, you need a tearoom. By the time you read this, Karen Klein’s charming venue, Mimi’s Tea Cottage, will be open for business on High Street, serving teas, scones, and other baked treats that harken back to traditional afternoon tea.
When we spoke with her, it was still undergoing renovations from its former incarnation as Meatball U, but she’d already received numerous requests to book events like bridal and baby showers and birthday parties. Even in the state it was in, we could see the enchanting
Elegance on High Street
Mimi's Tea Cottage looks like something out of a aristocratic Victorian dream, but's nestled along High Street in downtown West Chester.
touches by local designer Chrissy Gizz of Creative Customsi—right down to the quintessential UK phone booth (this one is pink rather than red) just inside the front door. Reclaimed wood, floral touches, chandeliers, and bathroom sinks consisting of bowls dropped into an antique dresser and a Singer sewing machine complete the charm-to-spare vibe.
The front of the space is a gift shop, with porcelain teapots, sweet treats, and collections of teas that Karen is putting together. “I think I’ve tasted 37 teas so far,” she said. When we met, she was narrowing down her collection, with equal time for black, green, rooibos, and herbal selections. The main space is divided into two dining areas separated by a wall for (semi) privacy, with a total seating of 40.
Karen will be serving afternoon tea (as opposed to the more formal high tea) in the British fashion, with a tiered tray of tiny temptations. “We’ll be doing everything from the little tea sandwiches, which are savory, to all the treats, including scones.” Destination afternoon tea was a tradition started by her late mother when she and her sister were children and continues now with their own daughters. And when Karen retired from the corporate world and was looking for a project, this seemed like a natural fit, and West Chester “hands-down” her favorite locale.
And the name? “Mimi is what my grandchildren call me,” Karen said. “They are my loves.”
On our recent visit to Gryphon Café, co-owner Len Mojzes stopped by briefly to chat. The conversation turned to the pot of Blue Eyes tea on the table, and within minutes we were steeped (see what I did there?) in conversation. The man knows his tea, is enthusiastic about sharing that knowledge and changing things up to entice customers—both coffee drinkers and tea sippers—to come along for the ride. Gryphon also has one of the largest selection of teain-coffee-shops in town.
In the black teas category—which by the way contain about half the caffeine content of coffee—there are four at Gryphon: Early Grey, “graceful with its bergamot oil and citrus snap;” Gryphon Breakfast, which Len describes as “crisp, medium-bodied classic;” Sunbather Red, a rare Taiwanese hybrid; and Monks Blend, with vanilla, caramel, and Sri Lankan tea.
As for green teas, which have about half the caffeine content of black teas, there’s Jasmine Phoenix Pearl, scented with Jasmine blossoms; Strawberry Green, Sencha infused with strawberry essence; Wild-Bush Kamairicha, with notes of corn silk, butter, and alfalfa; Blackberry Sage Oolong, with herbal and berries complimenting the earthy oolong; Forever Spring, lightly oxidized, richly flavored oolong from Taiwan; Bonfire Summer, a roasted tea from Japan; and Moroccan Mint, a brisk blend of mint and green tea.
I started out mainly into coffee, but over the years have found myself slowly switching to tea, and now drink it around a quarter of the time.
Steeped to Order
Gryphon has a selection of loose leaf teas, like their Blue Eyes, a fruit and flower herbal with a beautiful color and stunning aroma.
Looking for herbal tea, with no caffeine content? Try Tranquilitea, a local, soothing blend of herbs and flowers; Lifting Lemon, a local tea with Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm, and Lemongrass; Blue Eyes, “our classic fruit and flower tea;” Vanilla Almond Rooibos, “creamy and nutty goodness;” and Peppermint, organically grown in Washington state.
Since it was right in front of us, Len remarked on the versatility of Blue Eyes, which incidentally is the most gorgeous shade of… pink. “Since it is an herbal, you can also leave it steeping for as long as you like, and you won't get any of that bitter taste that can happen with the others. It's always juicy.” It was served—along with a cup and saucer—in a tea press pot, where you soak the leaves in water until the desired taste, and then press them down to the bottom of the pot.
Len says they’ve slowly been adding fun, higher-grade teas “…in hopes we can find those tea lovers in town,” as coffee still outsells tea here by a fairly large margin. “We sell tea by the cup
-Len Mojzes, Gryphon Café
and in bulk as well. Our Wayne location does a lot more in tea sales, and has a wider selection than we do now. We have just started playing around with Nitro Tea. It’s the same basic concept as Nitro coffees but with tea. You can get a really nice, creamy flavor with the right ones. We’re hoping people try them this summer!”
Len says he is coming around to the tea scene himself. “I started out mainly into coffee, but over the years have found myself slowly switching to tea, and now drink it around a quarter of the time.”
Turks Head Café
Before we get into the excellent London Fog we sat sipping in the cozy outdoor seating area at Turks Head (next to a splendid good dog named Hooper), a hat tip to Andrew Lamont. After a couple of missed connections in getting some quotes for this story, he took our call even though he was getting married the next day. That’s dedication, but Lamont Coffee, which launched Turks Head Coffee Roasters in 2016, is a small, family-owned business, and that’s just how they are.
Andrew is a co-owner—along with brothers Tommy and Mike, and ”PR guy” Jerry Kane, of Turks Head Café, which occupies the former Fenn's Coffee on Church Street. The interior has been given a bright and appealing overhaul, with lots of light, lots of wood, and lots of your favorite beverages.
You’ll find all your coffee best-loved brews here—and maybe one of your new favorite teas. I did. “We feature Harney & Sons tea,” Andrew told us. “It was started by two brothers, and my dad [Joe Lamont] met them at a coffee show about 30 years ago. We’ve been carrying their teas ever since.”
Online at Lamont Coffee, you can find and order 37 varieties of Harney & Sons;
A Diverse Audience
in the shop, you’ll find about 16, ranging from a classic Paris black tea to a raspberry tea, from a hot cinnamon spice to a white vanilla grapefruit. We handed over an organic Earl Grey Supreme tea bag from the display shelf to the barista who made that lovely London Fog.
“I’d say the demand for tea is pretty huge here,” Andrew said. “Some people only drink tea—I’d say 30 to 40% of our customers drink tea.” This goes beyond customer pleasing, although that absolutely comes first. It’s just good business sense, he said. “It’s pretty hard to deny the high profit margin of tea.”
Although there’s seating inside, downstairs and upstairs, they’ll be focused more on the outside with the advent of summer. “More plants, more seating—and we definitely want to do iced tea in the summer. We’re also thinking about a Nitro tea using a Harney & Sons’ black tea mixture.”
Turks Head made their name as coffee roasters, but a large portion of their cafe customers prefer tea, with many opting for their London Fog.
I'd say the demand for tea is pretty huge.
-Andrew Lamont, Turks Head Café
And yes—if you used to frequent Fenn’s for the Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings as well as the coffee, the team at Turks Head Café is arranging for a comeback. “Definitely bringing the AA meetings back—we’re talking with the organizers now, finalizing days and dates. It’s just good for the community.”
Although he’s a co-owner, Andrew said his role has always been behind the scenes, taking care of the wholesale side, inventory, and deliveries. That’s changed a bit now with the coffee shop. “It’s really nice to interact with the people!”
Mayday Coffee & Shop
When Mayday Coffee & Shop blazed into town in March, the focus was on the coffee, the cool but warm space, the sense of community, and the flowers— oh those flowers But yes… West Chester’s newest coffee hot spot offers tea, too. We walked in on our first visit after many coffees elsewhere and were kinda jangling, so the soothing hot chamomile served in an earthenware mug we ordered was just the ticket.
That sense of community is the priority for owner Austin Piona. “Trying to be inclusive as much as possible, Mayday provides all these tea options for the non-coffee drinker,” he told us. “It also allows people to have a completely different drink during the same day.” [Reporter’s note: This. I’ve done this.]
“We offer six different types of loose leaf tea here,” Austin said. “We also offer a Chai Tea Latte, a Matcha Tea Latte, and Lavender Honey Black Tea Latte, which are not loose leaf teas.” Those six consist of two herbal teas, Alpine Berry and Chamomile; two green teas, Tropical Green and Tamayokucha; and two black teas, Early Grey and Assam Breakfast. “Two Leaves and a Bud is the company we source our teas from. They sell very sustainable tea that has received many organic certifications.”
Some of the “pros” of offering tea at a coffee shop are the same pros you’d see offered by diehards and converts in general. “Tea can have some very strong calming effects, plus some of our tea options offer a decent amount of caf-
All In The Details
Mayday knows that appearances aren't superfluous, and their chamomile tea is a perfect example of an idyllic cup.
feine for those who don't want coffee, but still want a 'pick-me-up',” Austin said. “Both the matcha tea latte and chai tea lattes are very popular, but now our most recent drink, Berry Tea Lemonade, is made with our Alpine Berry herbal tea.” Austin is a big fan of the latter, and of Alpine Berry iced tea. He’s not alone, estimating that about 30% of his customers order chai, matcha, and loose-leaf tea.
“Herbal tea doesn’t have caffeine and is also mostly water,” he said. “I drink tea more than coffee.”photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews story Kate chadwicK @KATECHADWICK616
On a Roll
ian hoagie, one of Colonial’s most popular offerings.
Walking into Colonial Village midday on a Tuesday imparts a sense of stumbling into a best-kept secret. Young and old folks alike—clearly regulars—move through the aisles, chattering and making jokes with everyone behind the counter.
“Build Your Own Lunch” seems to be the theme today. The man next to me in line orders a half pound of chicken salad to go with his clamshell container of spring mix, carefully lifting a single stout kosher pickle from the barrel in front of the deli counter. Another customer retrieves a dinner plate-sized kaiser roll from the bins to fill with his order of store-baked sliced turkey breast, grabbing a bag of Funyuns to round out the meal.
When it’s my turn, I ask for “the most delicious thing you have on a roll,” and there is no hesitation: It’s the Deluxe Ital-
The Deluxe Italian is a study in symmetrical beauty. Layers of prosciutto and imported genoa salami ensconce oregano-sprinkled tomato, the thinnest sliced onions, and shredded lettuce, the sides of the meat neatly tucked in all around. Below is another layer of meats, with provolone cheese lining the bottom of the roll.
The flavors are an exercise in balance and restraint. It is not unusual for some element of an Italian hoagie—strong onions or an overabundance of meat—to take over the whole sandwich. Not here. Delicate ribbons of onions contribute to the flavor without overwhelming it. The meats combine for their signature savory presence without dominating. The provolone is especially noteworthy—sweet and earthy with a wonderful aroma that wafts as the paper is unwrapped. It is sweet, a bit dry and crumbly, with an elusive tang.
I love an Italian hoagie, but sometimes the entire day needs to be planned around eating one. Enjoy it after attending that in-person meeting. Enjoy it after an intense workout. Enjoy it after tackling the task
that requires razor-sharp powers of concentration. The Deluxe Italian, however, has a mild presence and supreme edibility. I only eat half of a hoagie at a time, ever, and normally, I get three quarters of the way through that half and need to take a nap. With Colonial’s version, however, I ate the whole half and was sad it was gone and was also not prohibited from being productive the rest of the day.
Really, Italian-style rolls are reason enough alone to live in this area. Undergirding the Deluxe Italian is a 12-inch-long roll featuring score marks on the sides that brown up for a subtle pop of crunchiness to complement the light, yet savory interior. A thin drizzle of oil dresses the roll, guaranteeing that a half saved for later won’t get soggy.
For the perfect sweet finish to lunch or an afternoon coffee break, try the cherry pistachio biscotti from Haddonfield, New Jersey’s Del Buono’s Bakery. Lunch, perfected.
PATIO season a photo
Shutting down Gay Street and turning downtown into a walkable destination for incredible outdoor dining was one of the best things to come out of COVIDphotos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews
When D'Ascenzo's sprawls out into the street, it's so easy to imagine yourself at a Roman cafe while enjoying your artisanal gelato - buon appetito!
Seafood is a perfect pairing for a sunny afternoon. Throw in fresh-squeezed cocktails, and Greystone Oster bar will have you feeingl like you're in Stone Harbor without ever leaving the borough.
Sundried tomatoes have the capacity to turn a creamy penne dish into a summer staple, and while the environment is always lively inside Avalon, somehow it just tastes better when you're seated right in the middle of Gay Street.
There's a good reason they call 'em the dog days of summer. It's hard to imagine a more relaxing evening than being seated along West Chester's iconic red brick sidewalks, hanging at Kildare's with a cold pint and your best friend.
Pro Tip: as the summer wears on, the days grow longer and the sun grows hotter, you can always find shade on the patio at Mercato. Enjoy the outdoors while soaking up Moscow Mules instead of sunshine.
photos ERIK WEBER
Form & Function
Exploring the design concepts of our borough’s best kitchens and dining spaces. This Month: Ground Provisions
The husband-and-wife ownership team of Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau are talented chefs known for creating tasty and memorable plant-based dishes, and they've brought their latest concept to the outskirts of West Chester. Their restaurant in Philly, Vedge, has consistent rave reviewers, they're authors of four cookbooks, and they’re constantly raising the bar for creative and fresh plates with vegetables as the star of the show. Because they are proud natives of Philadelphia, and fell in love with their home in Chester County, they were excited to open a space in Dilworthtown that prioritized preserving history and embodied their love and admiration for our local landscape.
Ground Provisions is split into a restaurant and a market. The latter takes
inspiration from Kate and Rich’s fondness for farmers’ markets. You can find natural wines, coffee, and treats like reverse chocolate chip cookies, coffee cake, and freshly baked sourdough and baguettes made every morning. Make sure to try their delicious grab-and-go sandwiches and rotating prepared foods. You can sit and enjoy your meal on the front porch or take a picnic to go.
The restaurant side is an experience, featuring a five-course menu that changes throughout the year. Starting with a bread course and followed by various plates containing locally sourced veggies, grains, homemade pastas, it ends with a delectable dessert. A few favorites on the menu are the sourdough toast topped with onion schmaltz and carrot pastrami. Every meal is thoughtfully created with seasonal foods and locally sourced ingredients including their very own farm called Lost Glove Garden.
It’s impossible not to notice the care Kate and Rich took when preserving the history of their space. With exposed wood beams, wainscoting, and creamy walls with blue accents, the interior will transport you to a Colonial-era farm-
house. Its simplicity rightly places your attention on the food and conversation. The furniture and seating—as well as the art on the walls—are all sourced from local antique stores and reused from the former Dilworthtown buildings on site. There is an existing wood china hutch that they fell in love prominently featured in both spaces. It’s been creatively split, with the top hanging on the wall in the dining room and the bottom half serving as a merchandiser for products in the market. With so many windows, the natural light gives the place a bright, airy and open feel; in the evenings, chandeliers create an intimate ambiance for dining. As Kate says, “We want the vibe to be celebratory without being fussy. We want you to feel well-cared for, like longlost friends.”
Ground Provisions opened in January of this year and has quickly won the hearts of locals. Kate and Rich’s team includes a talented bread maker, pastry chef, and chef de cuisine to create an experience that’s unrivaled in the region.story andrea mason @andreamasondesign photo ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews
Sampling some of the borough’s best meals in West Chester’s premier dinner destinations. This Month: Split Rail Tavern
As someone who spent their early 20s partying in the bars that used to occupy this space, I’m always a little shocked when I walk through the doors of Split Rail Tavern. It’s as if I’m stepping through a magical wardrobe into a wood- and copper-clad wonderland that’s evolving and aging as I do, because Split Rail Tavern is as perfectly suited to the adult I’m grudgingly becoming as 15 North was to the hard partier I used to be.
When I got into my craft beer phase, who was there for me? Split Rail Tavern, with taps galore and a beer list full of beverages, from just down the street and all over the world, with names both familiar and impossible to pronounce. When I got into my whiskey phase, my
gin phase, my craft cocktail phase, Split Rail was there for me with a liquor list comprising drinks that made me realize how poorly I’d been ordering everywhere else. And now that I’m entering this... well, the internet is calling it my “sober curious” phase, Split Rail still has my back.
My dining partner this evening is Kate Chadwick, our managing editor and a person who espouses sober life on Instagram. So, with me being new to this whole “not getting drunk” thing, I let her take the lead, and she orders up an Athletic Brewing Company Golden Dawn, a non-alcoholic golden ale made with Vienna malt that tastes like Belgium and won’t have me feeling any regret come tomorrow. I’m still not fully sold on the it’s-a-beer-but-it-won’t-get-you-drunk thing, but this ale has me reconsidering.
It was a genuine challenge for me not to eat every ounce of the mezze platter in the brief moments while my dinner date was away from the table after excusing herself to go wash her hands.
Don’t let the shrimp fool you, hummus is the real star of this starter made for sharing.
We’re tucked into a table on the first floor, back behind the bar where it’s quieter. Kate graciously accepts the booth seat, as I snag the chair across from her. The light is dim enough to give us that illusive feel of privacy and hide the egregious zit above my left eyebrow, but generous enough that neither of us needs to flip on a flashlight to read the menu. Since the low-end age of the crowd on this random Thursday is about 30, the background chatter from the bar is a gentle rumbling that blends into a pleasant white noise filling the lulls as we chat, rather than the overwhelming roar that drowns the capacity for conversation at other hot spots.
My sober curiosity, while partly driven by the desire to avoid hangovers which are becoming multi-day affairs, is primar-
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ily tied to my vanity. Every year it gets a little bit harder to remain fit, and it’s a sad truth that being hot is basically a cheat code for real life. If cutting out booze and fixing my diet aids my attractiveness, I’m all about it. So, as I’m perusing the menu, I’m quietly counting calories. Kate is kind enough to let me choose, so we (me) opt to start healthy, with the mezze platter and the Split Rail salad.
The salad is excellent. It’s equal parts sweet and savory, rich and light, with the toasted walnuts balancing the vinaigrette and berries pairing with the bleu cheese. Every bite of spring mix is loaded with these accents, and it makes the act of eating a salad feel decadent.
Next up, the mezze platter, which — based on an article I read on the internet five years ago about how the Mediterranean diet’s optimal for longevity — must be healthy, despite being built around a creamy hummus atoll with a generously olive oil-filled lagoon. The
Split Rail Salad
Toasted walnuts, blueberries & bleu cheese crumbles turn spring greens into an indulgence.
rest of the board features Greek vegetable salad, with fresh crumbled feta, plus a bowl of tabouli and some bright and zesty tzatziki for dipping the perfectly toasted and spiced pitas. If you want to make it an entree, you can even throw on a shrimp or chicken skewer. It was a genuine challenge for me not to eat every ounce of the mezze platter in the brief moments while my dinner date was away from the table after excusing herself to go wash her hands.
One of my go-to moves when eating out is to order something I’m not going to make at home. Hitting the perfect sweet spot where “flavors I crave” meets “things I’m not even sure how to
source for home cooking” is duck. I love it, and yet it’s hit or miss — a dish so easily ruined by poor preparation that it’s either exquisite or inedible. So, despite the duck noodle soup screaming at me from the entree section of the menu, I ask our server to weigh in on whether it’s a good option. I received an unexpectedly honest answer: he doesn’t eat duck, so he couldn’t tell me either way. Fair enough, I think, but this meal is getting expensed, so why risk ruining my dinner by misfiring on my entree order, if I can double down and also order the pickle-brined fried chicken sandwich?
As it turns out, the backup entree was entirely unnecessary — Split Rail has officially served me the best duck I’ve ever tasted. Ever. It’s crispy, yet melts in my mouth. Its natural oils are brought forth without the dish feeling greasy. Served atop dense noodles with a little bit of bite, sitting in a simmering, red broth with what I’d consider just a little
kick and my mother would classify as spicy, topped with thin-sliced, sauteed mushrooms, and garnished with some sesame seeds and green onions, it’s easily a top-ten dish in this town.
Kate is a much more basic eater, and I mean “basic” in exactly the way you think I do. The idea of even sampling my duck was a hard “no” for her, so she retreated to the comfort of a cheeseburger, which, even if a little boring by my tastes, she espoused was perfectly executed. Having overcooked beef more times than I can count, I credit any kitchen that nails a diner’s requested
Split Rail has officially served me the best duck I’ve ever tasted. Ever. It’s crispy, yet melts in my mouth. Its natural oils are brought forth without the dish feeling greasy.
temperature. Oh, and the hand-cut fries — my god. Incredible plain, but if you order them with a little parmesan, they’re a standout in their own right.
Another consequence of not drinking is that I’ve been going to sleep earlier and earlier, so by the time I’m polishing off Kate’s remaining fries (the benefits of my health conscious ordering erased by an inability to say “no” to such good grub), it’s 9:15pm and my Fitbit is buzzing at me that it’s time to start getting ready for bed. We ask for the check and prepare to call it an evening.
As I open the door for Kate on our way out, a squad of college-aged guys thunders past, a riotous mass of boasts and bumps. It seems that as I’m stepping out the door of my magical wardrobe and back into the real world, the universe wants to remind me of how time passes
Best. Duck. Ever.
The fried chicken sandwich in the background is tender and juicy, but crispy duck confit atop a bed of noodles is a show stealer.
in the blink of an eye. I watch my former self trundle off with that group to whatever bar their crowd swarms these days and wonder what I’d trade to go back. But then I remember that I’m currently holding onto a takeout container filled with a fried chicken sandwich that I’m going to eat for breakfast, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
Dinner for two at some of our favorite spots for quality time and quality food.
This Month: Mae’s
Mae’s breakfast sandwich caused Josh Taggart’s cooking to take up residence in my heart. I’ve been back more times than I can count for that exact dish and a cup of Rival Bros. coffee, but when Mae’s was suggested for our date night feature, I was chagrined to realize I’d never been for dinner.
So, it should be no small surprise that it was with great delight that I embraced the opportunity to visit with Josh and taste several dishes he’s envisaged for his spring/summer menu. It was a privilege to be able to taste appetizers and entrees that were just bursting with what I can only describe as the hope of spring before the rest of this town.
Opening its doors in 2020 was a stroke of bad luck no one could foresee, but arguably if a restaurant can survive and thrive during the worst of times then, like a tree with deep roots, nothing can take it down.
Of course, by the time you’re reading this article, these dishes will be available to the public — all of them revolving around fresh, innovative, and delicious cuisine — but for the duration of our date night I felt very special indeed.
But, let’s go back a bit, because where we end up has everything to do with where we started. A young Josh, still fresh from culinary school, earns a spot learning from the best at Tony Clark’s. Fast paced, “farm to table” before it was a thing, and the height of haute cuisine shaped Josh’s cooking, all evident in his current endeavors. Fate, kismet, or providence took him next to Lacroix, where he fell for the beautiful pastry chef from West Chester who would become his wife.
The hustle of city kitchens and the bustle of city living is all well and good, but Josh wanted to lay his head down at night somewhere he could listen to the crickets sing. West Chester seemed the perfect spot for his burgeoning family; one would think opening a restaurant in a foodie town would be redundant, but what Josh soon realized was that if you’re putting out a good product in West Chester, there’s room for everyone (lucky for us).
Opening its doors in 2020 was a stroke of bad luck no one could foresee, but arguably if a restaurant can survive and thrive during the worst of times then, like a tree with deep roots, nothing can take it down. The support from nearby restaurant owners was a
Burrata with pea salad, crisp prosciutto,
and mustard oil
heartwarming surprise for Josh; if cutthroat was the city vibe, then borough life was proving the opposite, and Josh knew he’d made the right move. They did the best they could with takeout, which, from the start, was steadily popular (again, West Chester is a discerning group and when they find a good thing, they stick with it).
Slowly but surely life is getting back to normal, and Josh hopes that this upcoming summer will be the first, truly pandemic-free summer the restaurant
experiences. Open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday, head to the Resy app and pick your date (pun intended).
There are a few dates I would like to suggest for you. The first is perhaps the most typical and falls into two categories. If you want to go on a date with a person you like, in the heart of the borough and adjacent to dozens of “after-dinner drink” locations, for food that will blow your hair back, Mae’s is your spot.
One of the most charming details here is that Mae’s is BYOB and Josh thinks corkage fees are “silly.” I have to agree with him there, which makes me like this gem even more. So, grab a special bottle you’ve been saving or buy the $15 bottle that’s on sale for $12 (my typical move). The first category is “willing to spend,” and your bottle of wine denotes that.
You should most definitely start with the Burrata with pea salad, crisp prosciutto, and mustard oil. This was perhaps my favorite dish, and when I ate the leftovers at home, I spread each bite of
cheese over crusty, toasted sourdough and found myself in a food trance. The prosciutto was perfectly crisp, with no fat and just a bit of chew. The mustard oil lent an acidity that paired so well with the smooth, almost sweet cheese. The pea salad was impossibly fresh, boasting the flavors of spring like only those early, verdant vegetables can. A small portion, yet perfect to share, this one is a can’t miss.
with charred carrots, cavatelli pasta and seasonal mushrooms
One of the most charming details here is that Mae’s is BYOB and Josh thinks corkage fees are “silly.” I have to agree with him there, which makes me like this gem even more.
a golden-brown hue and set in a ramp nage and topped with fresh ramps. Yes, nage—that wasn’t a typo. Nage is a French term for a flavored poaching liquid that is then reduced and thickened with butter or cream. Think “green broth that I could drink with a straw.” The fish is crisp yet tender and the accoutrements taste like pure springtime. Your dining partner could choose between the roasted chicken with sautéed peas, melted leeks, mushrooms, pickled peppadew peppers and garlic sauce, or the seared hanger steak with charred carrots, cavatelli pasta and seasonal mushrooms.
Next, figure out with your date who wants fish and who is looking for meat. You can’t order the same thing, that’s against the rules. For fish, look no further than the salmon, seared to
Notice the consistent and creative use of carrots, peas, ramps, and mushrooms? These are vegetables locally available in the spring in Chester County; fresh is best and you’ll notice
how ardently Josh believes this as you survey his menu. Both dishes boasted tender, succulent, and perfectly prepared meats with an artistic, tactful array of vegetables that support but do not distract from the main. Generous portions that share well, the dishes are so thoughtfully prepared that you’ll find yourself satisfied, but not stuffed.
On this celebratory date, you should split a dessert, because the strawberry rhubarb cobbler and the mint chocolate semifreddo are designed to end your dining experience with a bit of sweetness and are not to be missed.
For another date idea, this time a more casual weeknight out with someone you’ve been seeing for a while. Grab that aforementioned $12 bottle of
Notice the consistent and creative use of carrots, peas, ramps, and mushrooms? These are vegetables locally available in the spring in Chester County; fresh is best and you’ll notice how ardently Josh believes this as you survey his menu.
wine, split a salad and choose between the sandwiches on Mae’s menu. I’m coming back for the burger, made with aged cheddar, pickled onions, and Mae’s famous bacon jam, but I’ll encourage my date to order the pressed Cuban or the turkey and brie panini, which also get my juices flowing. With a tip, you’ll be out for under $50.00, and wowed by high quality, expertly prepared dinner.
Then we’ve got the family-friendly option. Make a reservation for 4:30 or 5:00pm with your kids. You can bring a nice bottle of wine, but a six pack of Coronas with lime is also perfectly acceptable. The kid’s menu showcases exactly what every kid hopes to eat at a restaurant: chicken fingers and mac and cheese.
The parents can order something that is a far cry from “bar food” while their kids nosh happily, and they drink “for free”— arguably using the money they didn’t need for a sitter. This date is in my future.
Finally, a date for the foodie pair. Every other Thursday, Josh plans to host a
themed prefix dinner. The Bear night just might offer Mikey’s Spaghetti followed by Marcus’s perfect donut for dessert. The vegan menu offered in months past saw every table filled, and an Anthony Bourdain night is in the works. This is for adventurous eaters who will eagerly dig into anything Josh serves up, knowing it will be inventive, it will be fun, and it will be downright delicious.
Another thing to keep in mind: as of May 5th, the streets will shut down to once again welcome diners onto Gay Street, ready to mingle and taste some great food. Mae’s seats up to 50 al fresco, with upcoming plans for live acoustic music.
with sautéed peas, melted leeks, mushrooms, pickled peppadew peppers and garlic sauce
No matter the type of date you’re planning, know that Mae’s is a place where you can come to experience in-season food that’s artfully, imaginatively, and scrumptiously prepared (by a guy who might love West Chester as much as you do).photos & story BECCA BOYD @homebeccanomics
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