Brandywine Valley---Where to Eat, What to do?
I'll be staying in the Brandywine Valley (in the Longwood Gardens area) and I'd love some advice on some good dining you've had in the region. Looking for some good lunch and dinner places. In particular we enjoy American (eclectic and traditional), French, Italian, Cuban, Brazilian, Afternoon Tea, Continental, etc...
(no steakhouses, Indian, Chinese, or Mexican).
What places did you enjoy (or not enjoy), what was your dining experience like?
Also, if you've been there, I'd appreciate your feedback on some fun things to do in the general area. (I already know about Longwood Gardens, Winterthur and the Brandywine River Museum.)
Thanks for your help! Looking forward to your feedback.
Sounds good. I love mushrooms. Thanks everyone, again for all the lovely information!
Also, best towns in area that are good to stroll in, shop in, and eat at? A town that could occupy a good portion of the day?
VaLa is pretty interesting. Very kooky website. unfortunately they don't do a tour though. Is there another winery in addition someone would like to recommend?
In general I have been looking for recommended places-- restaurants, wineries, areas to browse in, that aren't more than 20 minutes from the Longwood Garden area. Ooh and a good ice cream place is always a cheerful addition to a trip!
Definitely go to VaLa... I cannot recommend it any more strongly! As far as wineries, most people will likely recommend Chaddsford. It is the largest winery in the area. My honest opinion is that it is overly crowded, full of tourists, and the quality of the wine ranges from poor to slightly above average. Kind of like a "chain restaurant" of the local wineries... designed for mass appeal.
Rather, I recommend you visit the Brandywine Wine trail, there are quite a few great small wineries with good atmosphere and very good wine. Kreutz Creek is nice and so is Twin Brook. Both are smaller and family run (not as good as Va La but still good). Go to pennsylvaniawine.com for more info on the local wineries. It is a great site and has links to each winery.
Agreed on all fronts -- VaLa is far and away the crown jewel of the local wineries and blows the others out of the water. And the little grill stand outside on the weekends makes some great sandwiches -- do a picnic lunch here, you won't regret it. I did the Brandywine Valley wine trail recently and have to say that Chaddsford was a huge disappointment. Insanely crowded and the wine was barely drinkable. Apparently they have some nice music events there that might be worth a go, but otherwise...
If you want to give stomach and wallet a break from big pricey meals, I'd recommend Hugo's Inn, an old-fashioned tavern about 200 yards south of Longwood Gardens on Route 1. Inexpensive (for the area) food, with and emphasis on mushrooms (great mushroom soup, pickled mushrooms, a wonderful mushroom "skillet", steaks with mushrooms - you name it). It's full of locals, both the horsey set and the hoi polloi. If you're with a large group, the service is incredibly surly, but if you're a family or couple, they're a lot nicer.
Definitely must visit Va La -- a fun, delicious experience for any chowhounder. Their website is a hoot, too:
Half Moon is a favorite of mine; also, be sure to save room for some mexican ice cream at Michoacana's down the road.
Buckley's Tavern (on 52) has good pub food, more original than most.
Pizza by Elizabeth's (also on 52) is good; exceptional desserts, IMHO.
Simon Pearce is picturesque and the food is good:
Toscana (Trolley Square in Wilmington) is pretty good and not too far of a drive:
Casablanca (rte. 13 in New Castle) is a fun spot for a group -- bellydancers on Saturdays, and the food (Morrocan) is much better than you would think at a place that could slide into the 'gimmicky' catagory very easily. Good value, too:
As far as non-food stuff goes, Hagley's might be worth a tour. Also, Gibraltar (on 52 in Wilmington) is a small but lovely hidden gem:
(Says hours are till 5, but I think they're open until 8 during the week.)
Enjoy your stay!
I would also suggest Simon Pearce Restaurant in West Chester, right on the Brandywine river.
When my wife and i visited that was the best meal of our trip. They also have a glass factory on-site which was neat to waste away an extra hour or so. It's a beautiful restaraunt. Maybe a bit of a drive, but worth it in my opinion
Welcome to the Brandywine Valley area!
This site may be helpful to you http://www.thebrandywine.com
I have heard great things about Catherine's (see site above) but would also reccomend High Street Cafe in nearby West Chester. www.highstreetcafe.com and the town is fun to browse before or after dinner. If you can, go see Winterthur, DuPont Estate, about 20 mins from Longwood..........
You must go to VaLa Vineyards in Avondale. Besides amazing italian varieties of wine, they offer a wine and "local food" tasting. For only $5, you get to sample some delicous wine and each wine is paired with local cheese, mushrooms, chocolates. The family that runs the vineyardis extremely nice, it is a beautiful setting. Also, on weekends in the summer, they have a BBQ stand outside with delicous sdandwiches of salmon, brisket, pulled pork, etc. Just buy a bottle wine, pixck up a few sandwiches and some cheeses, and sit on their outside deck and look out over the amazing view of the vineyards. Life does not get any better than that!
I am not aware of any sites that would display menus... I have, however, been to the Half Moon, which is also nice, though not upscale like The Orchard. They have all kinds of meats there, like kangaroo, I believe... You can ask to be seated upstairs, which shoudl be nice in the summer (outside).
Check out the Half Moon Restaurant www.halfmoonrestaurant.com and Sovana Bistro www.sovanabistro.com in Kennett Square. Both offer great seafood while the first offers a lot of gamey items and the second has Italian items and very good broccoli rabe. Longwood Gardens is great, Winterthur is good, and the Brandywine River Museum is just ok. But across the street is a little place called Hank's that has decent breakfasts.
I absolutely love the Orchard, a very high scale BYO. It is located very close to Longwood Gardens, the service is impeccable and the food amazing (I remember a great cod there). The 1st time I went, the chef actually came to discuss another side dish option with a customer, just because the guy did not like risotto. I remember the chef concluding with "I will be creative", I thought this was awesome!
503 Orchard Ave, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania 19348, Tel: (610) 388-1100