New Lancaster Restaurant - Effie Ophelia
A new BYOB opened in January on Prince street across from Senorita Burrito. Here's a link to the article that appeared in the Lancaster newspapers: http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/29242
Has anyone checked it out? Our landlord says it is very romantic, and the posted menu looks right up my alley (focus on seasonal). We tried to call for a reservation last Friday night, but apparently they don't take reservations, just call-ahead seating (???) And, when we tried the call ahead thing, we were told they were too busy, and that they would call us back (no return call). Unfortunately, it didn't fit our plans. We'll have to try another time.
Curious to hear if anyone has tried it.
Update: We made it there on Friday!
Sadly, spyturtle, not vegetarian-friendly.
Here's the scoop:
Reservations: still fairly annoyed at the way they handle "reservations." Basically, they call it "Call-ahead" seating. Here is how it worked for us. We called at approximately 7:00 for a desired 7:30 seating time. They told us they would give us a call back when a table would be opening up in approx half an hour. Half an hour passed, and no call, so we decided to call back. At this time, they told us something would be opening in approx 15 minutes. So, we quickly got ready and raced out the door. This is similar to what happened a week prior. They told us we would get a call back... and nothing. I hope they figure out a way to improve this process soon!
Ambiance: the walls are painted a deep shade of chestnut brown. They have dark wooden tables that are close to each other. Lots of candle light. At the back of the dining room is a bar (Seats three) overlooking the tiny "kitchen." This is where they sat us. This kitchen is where the chef/owner does the cooking. It seems that there is a prep kitchen further back in the building. Overall, very appealing to look at, but too noisy to be "romantic."
The food: The menu has approx 8 appetizers and 8 entrées, plus our waitress offered two specials. There are several vegetarian options within the appetizers. My husband got the goat cheese and root vegetable gratin - AWESOME. This was diced root vegetables, including beets and yams, with goat cheese lightly browned on top. The sweetness of the vegetables and the tartness of the cheese was out of this world. I ordered the sweet potato gnocchi. The gnocchi was perfectly dense (I don't like little light clouds of dough!), and had a grilled flavor. It was tossed in an intense sage cream sauce, that was a little too salty - until you paired it with the toasted pecans and arugala that came with the dish. Together, the taste was incredible, a terrific balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy.
For our entrées, my husband had pork served with red cabbage and fingerling potatoes. I have to say, this was the moistest pork I have ever had. Very nice! And the the cabbage had tasty big chunks of apple. It was a nice play on the traditional PA Dutch cooking of the region. I had coriander-rubbed mahi-mahi served with citrus and black strap molasses. This was the least impressive of the dishes... but, I have to wonder if it just a matter of how much you like molasses. The flavors just didn't jive for me. On the other hand, the fish was done perfectly - flaky and tender, very moist. For dessert, we shared a chocolate pot de creme. Very, very rich and creamy. Sadly, I was too full to enjoy it; my husband didn't complain a bit for having to eat my portion too!
Drinks: it is a BYOB - we enjoyed an '03 California Malbec with all of the courses. Coffee is french pressed, and they had a nice selection of teas to choose from.
So, overall - we are definitely going back. The way that Chef Howton courageously matches flavors makes it a unique dining experience in Lancaster. The hip interior is the closest thing we can get to a big city without driving over an hour. Hope you all enjoy the experience as much as we did!
I agree: Effie Ophelia looks wonderful. Lancaster City needs more restaurants like this: chef-driven concepts where the emphasis is on top-notch cooking, not liquor, and where the prices are in line with the modest salaries and cost of living that prevail here. My husband and I haven't been there yet but it's on the top of our list. A little bit of Paris right on Prince Street!